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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Koan No. 12


Koan No 12 on Positioning

“Our differentiator is that we’re a generalist.” Anonymous client May 2004


The first anonymous quotation – but I’m afraid names have to be concealed to protect the guilty (and me!). This corker emerged last month when I was being briefed to do pitch research. A comment which moved me to tears (of laughter) but which in former times would have left me homicidal (or suicidal) as the inhouse planner having to sort this one out. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Is a generalist a valid way for a brand to position itself to its audiences? No no and no. The reason why brands position themselves at all is because to be useful to an audience they have to be different. Different from all the alternatives. You can be different for being the biggest, carrying a wider range, for never being out of stock, for refunding the difference if they find the same item at a cheaper price. But you can’t be different by being a generalist ie not being different. For better or for worse we have to find specialisms which people value and use to develop shortlists of brands and choose between them. And if you want to enjoy a comedy classic The Specialist – then click on the graphic to order your own copy from Amazon.



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