Brand Repositioning – 3 Common Mistakes To Avoid

In theory, brand repositioning or positioning reassessment initiatives are a key tool for creating growth. In practice, it is often a complete waste of time, money and effort.

Nearly every business has a graveyard of brand positioning failures. This is due to the change being so cautiously small or un-engaging. A brand positioning that doesn’t inspire people with some degree of credibility is like a blunt knife. Internal teams can easily get all fired up about a brand repositioning, but often, the consumer doesn’t even notice, or care. (Read our article on standout brand positionings for some examples of how to get it right.)

So here are 3 common brand repositioning mistakes to avoid;

1. Confusing brand strategy with brand positioning

cartoon man with scribbles above his headGreat brand positioning should delight some people and frighten others. So it’s important to be able to identify who you want to target and why they should care about your brand, as well as when and where they will come in to contact with it. Broadly speaking, this is brand strategy. This is an analytical, rational, insight-led process. It’s essentially the route map of your brand.

Brand positioning on the other hand is the creative response to such a strategy. It should be emotional and inspirational – it’s the journey you experience whilst taking the route. Brand strategy and brand positioning are not substitutable terms: they are complementary activities.

2. Not lining up your brand promise and brand positioning

diagram of left and right brainA good brand positioning should take into consideration both the emotional and the rational. In days gone by, marketers primarily focused solely on the rational, relying on their creative agencies to add a “dash” of emotion. More recently, the emphasis has become almost completely on the emotional sell. And, whilst here at The Strategy Distillery we agree, consumers usually decide to buy based on emotion, we see it time and time again that the rational underpinning can either seal or sabotage the “deal”. So make sure the right brain (emotional) and left brain (rational) are talking to each other. You have to line up your brand promise (or proposition) so that consumers can believe your brand positioning.

3. Repositioning your brand for today and not for tomorrow

next exit the future People worry a lot about the credibility of a positioning idea. There is little point investing time and money in repositioning your brand, simply to produce a summary of how it currently works. Why reposition a brand if it won’t result in meaningful change? At its very best, a good brand repositioning will take you to new places. This requires you to stretch credibility as far as it will possibly go. Understanding what people expect of your brand is only important to the extent that you can think creatively about how to play with, challenge or even overturn those expectations. In a nutshell, you need to be bold and brave and not just tinkering around the edges.


Facing the challenges of a brand repositioning? Find out how we can help.