Quite a few years ago Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote a brilliant book called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. The book explained how to position your business in the competitive environment. Positioning statements can make a huge difference in the success of your brand by guiding your potential customers to think of you in a certain way.
Years ago when the Hertz car rental company was #1, the second place car rental company, Avis, used the positioning statement, “We Try Harder.” The idea was to make the consumer think that because Avis was #2 they will try harder with better service.
As illustrated in the attached cartoon, Foxtrot by Bill Amend, positioning statements can reposition your competitor without mentioning the competitor. By indicating that your product doesn’t contain something negative, you are insinuating that their product might contain the distasteful ingredient.
This process of repositioning the competitor is very common in politics. In the 50’s, during the McCarthy hearings on Communism, the panel would ask questions that positioned the person they were questioning. It’s hard to answer a question like, “How long have you been a Communist?” The question positions the interviewee as Communist even if he is not a Communist.
It is very important to carefully consider how you position your business, but it is equally important to consider how you might reposition your competitor. A slogan like, “The only tractor made in the U.S.”, not only positions your company, it also repositions all of your competitors. Positioning is one of the most important factors in development of your company’s brand.