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Branding and Positioning: The Most Important Parts of Messaging

It was the fall of 1964 and it was an unseasonably hot day for northeast Ohio. My two brothers and I were in the backseat of my father’s battleship-size Plymouth Fury. The Fury was overheating — steam rising from the hood.

It was one of the few cars with air conditioning, but every time you used it, the car overheated.

We stopped at an auto repair shop on Youngstown’s East Side. Inside, a sign on the wall explained the labor costs: “Service Fee: $5 per hour. If you watch: $10. If you help: $20.”

Customers got the message: stay out of the garage, let them handle it and everyone will like the result. The repair shop owners positioned themselves as professionals, not backyard mechanics.

Fixing and Avoiding Problems

There are plenty of problems that can slow down sales or ruin the expectations of entrepreneurs. Targeting the wrong market, using the wrong media, and product functionality are a few of the many possibilities.

Branding or positioning is very often the problem. Get those tuned up and you can have a good start on success and avoid a lot of problems.

Here are some real-life examples.


A few years ago, Joe Shorokey, the bright and personable CEO of D & E Counseling, asked for some assistance. D & E was a non-profit specializing in helping children and adolescents.

D & E had a great track record, but the brand name didn’t reflect the high-level quality of the service offered. Shorokey wanted a brand name that inspired trust in parents and projected the professional image it deserved. He also wanted the brand to reflect their adherence to the highest standards of service and the highest level of care.

We used research of several types, including focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders. We kept coming back to Shorokey’s comments about “high standards” and “high level of care.”

The Spanish and Italian word for “high” is “alto.” Making an Americanized version of that word, we came up with “Alta.” Hence the Alta Care Group was born and launched with a new logo, website marketing campaign.

Positioning Example

Premium Infused Spirits, LLC. is an Ohio-based distiller of specialty liqueurs. They have two primary products — Lillo Lemon Liqueur and Lillo Coffee Liqueur.

Lillo is on the shelf of liquor agencies next to at least 3-4 competitors at all times. Because it is all-natural, the color of the liqueur is not as vibrant as the competitors that use artificial coloring.

Lillo is also the highest priced of all of the products in their category. The liquor store owners confirm that first-time customers often choose the competing brand when they look at the shelf, see a brighter colored bottle and a much lower price.

Our fix for Lillo is some new positioning, which is still being rolled out at the time of this article. Using point of sale materials on their bottles, we overcome the issues of price and color with positive benefits.

Lillo is a premium product. As such, labels will refer to the contents as Lillo Premium Limoncello or Lillo Premium Coffee Liqueur. Lillo has more fresh lemons, all-natural products, and higher alcohol content.

Best of all, Lillo is “3 Drinks In One: 1. A delicious sipping drink, 2. Your favorite mixed drink, and 3. An 80-proof party shot.”

Get The Message Out

Branding and positioning are the most important parts of your message. Like the sign in the repair shop, it can help customers understand who you are, what you offer, and the benefits of purchasing your product or service.

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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