Repositioning Your Brand

Repositioning is changing the frames of reference. It is changing a brand’s status in comparison to that of the competing brands. It is undercutting and undermining an existing concept or product, thus altering the market map and creating new opportunities for your brand. It is not for the faint-hearted and one should not be afraid of conflict or controversy while repositioning the product. Remember fortune favours the brave!


avis1-225x300The Case of Avis

Avis rent-a-car’s strategy ranks among the top repositioning strategies in the history of marketing. Study the copy thoroughly and you’ll gain insights into how to alter the market map and create new opportunities and give compelling reasons to try your brand. This is necessary when you are confronting a dominant leader in the category with whom you cannot compete head-on!

Launched in 1963, the repositioning strategy with the campaign – We Try Harder – of Avis became synonymous with Avis, superior customer service, and going the extra mile.

The ubiquitous We Try Harder button is not only worn by Avis employees, but is often adopted by volunteers of different charities to highlight the volunteers’s spirit!

What is more, even the heroes of the 2/503 Battalion of the US Army (also known as Sky Soldiers, who made the only parachute jump in the Vietnam war and later in Iraq) adopted the Avis Slogan – We Try Harder! It became a rallying cry for the Sky soldiers.

The Case of Tylenol

 Tylenol, the original brand of paracetamol in the US repositioned itself against the mighty Aspirin and won the battle. The Tylenol ads said, ” For the millions who cannot take Aspirin… If your stomach is easily upset or you have an ulcer … or you suffer from asthma, allergies, iron deficiency anaemia, it would make good sense to check with your doctor before you take Aspirin… Aspirin can irritate stomach lining, can cause hidden gastrointestinal bleeding…Fortunately there is Tylenol…”

Tylenol became a leading OTC (over-the-counter) analgesic anti-pyretic category and is a household name today.

The Case of  Incidal


Bayer’s Incidal (mebhydrolin), the anti-allergic brand followed a successful re-positioning strategy in India during 1980s. Incidal stood out distinctly amidst a plethora of anti-allergic brands with its product promise – the ‘day time antihistamine’ – backed by its ‘alert’ theme of communication strategy that changed the frame of reference of the category. Anti-histamines had a strong association in the minds of prescribing physicians as ‘effective but cause drowsiness.’ Therefore, they cannot be prescribed to patients who drive, operate machinery and by those who are on the move. Incidal with its day-time antihistamine promise changed the frame of reference, achieved a distinctly different and superior position and became a brand leader in record time. Later in the mid 1990s, Bayer withdrew the product to introduce a newer antihistamine molecule (cetirizine) with the same brand name.


Two Points to Remember While Repositioning


1. One of the most effective ways to get into a prospect’s mind is to first admit a negative and then turn it into a positive, because candor is very disarming to natural consumer skepticism. Every negative statement you make about yourself is accepted as truth and any positive statement on the other hand is looked at as dubious, especially in an advertisement.

2. The basic prerequisite for a repositioning strategy is a thorough examination and analysis of all existing customer perceptions about you and your competition. It is important that you look below the surface to find out what might be obvious about competition to you, and how you deliver and state the obvious to create a lasting impact of  your (re)positioning in the market.

A successful repositioning strategy can make all the difference!