“You may be going merrily about your business, doing a decent job, progressing steadily along the tracks. Your brand may be well regarded by consumers. Everything may be OK.
But then out of left field the competition does something radical that rewrites the rules; that reframes the market; that changes the way you’re viewed. Suddenly you no longer seem quite so relevant. You appear a little off the pace, a little out of sorts. Suddenly you look like yesterday’s brand.
BA was solidly respectable, thoroughly dependable. And then irreverent Virgin arrived on the scene and made it somewhat stuffy and old-fashioned. Levi’s was cool and contemporary. And then dissident Diesel appeared and made it safe and conventional. Orange made Vodafone feel corporate. Apple made Microsoft appear square. Sipsmith made Gordon’s look dreary. Fever-Tree made Schweppes taste sweet. Eat made Pret seem over-sauced. And so on and so forth.”
Positioning a brand can feel like an isolated exercise in an otherwise stable category.
But you are always doing more than positioning just one brand.
You are also repositioning a category.
This holds true if you use an ‘about’ approach or a ‘versus’ approach.
There’s a parallel to draw with politics here. The Overton Window describes the acceptable range of political views within a culture. When a new party finds traction at the fringe, they expand the window, and in the process shift the public’s perceptions of where the middle ground lies.
A new position changes all other positions.
“When you position yourself, you also reposition the competition.”