What is de-positioning and how it can let your brand shine

July 27, 2023

By Stew Post
Editor, Globe Media Asia

Let’s face it. An important part of every marketing strategy is pointing out the ways that your product or service is better than the competition. But this doesn’t mean that you have to turn negative or attack other companies for their shortcomings. A better strategy is to highlight some of your product’s positive elements, using the juxtaposition against competitors to shine a light on areas where their products lack. 

Known as de-positioning, this is a great way to reach your target audiences and let them form their own conclusions about why they should go with your brand instead of the alternatives. At the centre of any good de-positioning campaign are two key elements: desires and pain-points. A desire, unsurprisingly, refers to a want or need that a consumer has that can be met by your product or service. A pain-point, on the other hand, is a problem or issue that a customer needs remedied, with your product or service providing a solution. 

There are a couple real-world examples that can demonstrate just how effective de-positioning can be. Let’s start with Apple. During the company’s “Get a Mac” campaign, Apple made being a “Mac” a personal identity, making competitors look tired and out of touch in comparison. In the first year of the campaign, Apple saw a 39% bump in sales. More recently, in the wake of controversy over Google and Amazon violating customer privacy to train voice assistant algorithms, Apple positioned itself as a “Guardian of Privacy.” They continue to leverage this position and promote a brand story about designing privacy into every Apple product and feature from the beginning of development.

But de-positioning isn’t just relegated to the world of tech. Take for example, Chobani, the wildly popular yoghurt brand. Company founder Hamdi Ulukaya credits the brand’s massive success to a single decision – selling the product in the dairy aisle, not the speciality food section. This simple, yet ingenious, strategy allowed the company to de-position other yoghurt brands that Ulukaya felt were “disgusting, sugary and watery.” But rather than any kind of overt attack on competitors’ quality, Ulukaya let his yoghurt speak for itself. 

By positioning Chobani as more than just another yoghurt brand, while simultaneously placing it alongside competitors, Ukulaya was able to outshine larger brands in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) field and find success. The brand beat the 70%-90% failure rate in the CPG industry and was able to eventually capture 20% of the U.S. yoghurt market. In the years since, Chobani has continued to expand its presence in the dairy aisle, grow its portfolio of high-quality products and compete in a crowded and competitive market. 

These are just two examples of the power of de-positioning as a marketing strategy and the importance of authenticity and simplicity in this tactic. This approach to branding is about creating a strong association between a desire or pain-point your customer is experiencing and your product’s ability to deliver a solution.  To this end, any effective de-positioning campaign must focus on embodying a singular idea within consumers’ minds that places your brand as the first and best solution. In short, de-positioning is about letting your product speak for itself and standing out from the crowd. 

For more information about de-positioning, branding strategies and the world of marketing, check out Brains Communication.