De-positioning and positioning are both necessary for a holistic brand positioning strategy to work rather than being at opposite ends
Brand positioning is the “science and art of creating and deploying messages that create perceptions in the minds of your target markets.” This is based on the idea that your market’s overall impression of your company or brand is what creates and keeps that impression. And by that logic, de-positioning should be the opposite.
But that’s not the case.
Instead of being against each other, de-positioning and positioning are both necessary for a holistic brand positioning strategy to work. They work synergistically. If positioning is about how the market thinks and acts about your brand, products, or services, then de-positioning is about how the market thinks and acts about your competitors. To successfully position a brand, it’s important to think about how you may persuade consumers to switch their loyalty from one competitor to another.
De-positioning” is not bad. When a brand’s “good characteristic” is emphasised in a way that casts a “bad light” on the competitors, this is called de-positioning. To a far lesser extent than “negative campaigning.” Instead, you should emphasise a strength that sets you apart from the competition: a feature that satisfies a customer’s wants or needs or alleviates a problem they’re experiencing.
Proper brand positioning depends on the “relative competitive comparison” that happens in the minds of your target market at the exact moment they have to decide whether to buy your brand or one of your competitors. Even though it’s important to point out the benefits of your product or service, that won’t be enough if your target audience already has a favourite brand or a strong positive opinion that another brand would better meet their needs or solve their problems.
When it comes to brand positioning, we stress the need of making your “meaningful benefit” clear to the customer in question. Simply put, that’s the gate fee. However, it isn’t enough to have consumers switch to another brand. Adding some “differentiation” helps, but the “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition) notion typically receives more attention than it merits.
De-positioning is the last step needed to finish the formula. Your “provable significant benefit,” “differentiation,” and “de-positioning factor” all make up a well-crafted positioning platform.
To be clear, the goal of brand positioning is to persuade your target audience that your brand is the only option for meeting their needs, rather than merely encouraging favourable attitudes about your product. According to research, sowing seeds of doubt or fanning the flames of unhappiness are the seeds of success in de-positioning. To break through the inertia of brand preference and steal market share from your rivals, you must first create doubt in your target’s mind that your competitors can ‘perform the job, and/or create unhappiness with your target’s present preferred brand.
De-positioning is a strategic manoeuvre used in competition.
Conversion is the process of getting customers to choose your brand over others by changing the way they think and act.
De-positioning is most effective when it can change collective perceptions about an entire competitive category, rather than against a single competitor (though this is a reasonable approach in some cases). In other words, instead of saying, “our brand is superior to the other brand because we excel at what you require,” you should say, “our brand is the only one that can do what you require, and all those other brands cannot because we have, what they don’t .”
De-positioning, which is both subtle and very powerful, is the real secret sauce of brand positioning. Brand positioning can be defined as the simultaneous deployment of a brand message that pulls your target audience away from your competitors and toward your brand.
Apple is the undisputed king of brand positioning, and its de-positioning was flawless. Apple has shifted its attention to privacy, de-positioning its competitors who are unable to offer it after losing the war in voice assistants. Siri has been deemed the “ugly stepchild by industry executives in comparison to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Even Apple’s competitors use customer data to train their algorithms and make their voice assistants better at knowing everything. Yet, this is a huge source of frustration for the target audience.
Apple, which saw its dominance in the voice assistant market erode, realized that consumers are wary of surveillance capitalism on the rise and want more personal space. Apple can displace its rivals because it promotes itself as the “protector of privacy,” capitalizing on consumers’ aversion to openness.