Repositioning: Marketing In An Era of Competition, Change, and Crisis

GM and AIG face a branding crisis that many brands face today. Pressured by Wall Street pressure for growth, they sacrificed once well-defined brands in a futile attempt to be all things for all people. The only way to get back on track is to reposition their brands says legendary author Jack Trout in his new book Repositioning (McGraw-Hill; November), a follow-up to his bestseller Positioning.

How should brands be repositioned to react to the financial crisis? If you reposition your brand as more affordable will it destroy its value? How do you know whether to stay with your base brand, launch a sub-brand or start a new brand? How can you match the smart repositioning strategy of Coach's new low-price Poppy line and avoid repositioning disasters like Tropicana's short-lived redesign?

To reposition your brand effectively Trout advises:

Hang a negative perception on your competition only if it sets up a benefit for you. Apple has hung "nerdy" on PCs. McDonald's has been trying to hang the "Snobby coffee" label on Starbucks as it promotes is lattes and cappuccinos.

Don’t focus on getting big. AIG collapsed from failing to reposition itself as more than just a big and general life insurance company. Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and GM face the same challenge.

Use a crisis as an opportunity. The challenge for the post-bankrupt GM is to figure out what each of its four remaining brands is about. "BMW is about drivability. Mercedes is about engineering," Right now GM stands for nothing.

Jack Trout is the acclaimed author of many marketing classics published in many languages, from his groundbreaking bestseller Positioning, which coined the term positioning and was named this year one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time. As president of Trout & Partners Ltd., an international marketing consultancy, he has worked with Hewlett-Packard, Southwest Airlines, Merck, Procter & Gamble, and Papa John’s Pizza, among numerous companies. He has consulted with the State Department on how to better sell America and in 2006 helped the Democrats regain leadership of the U.S. Congress. A highly sought after speaker on marketing trends and leading-edge marketing strategies, Trout has been interviewed by 60 Minutes, CNBC, CNN, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He lives and works in Connecticut.