Trout and Ries turned me on to Positioning with their book Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind. It’s very hard to disagree with Jack and Al. The logic is dead on. It addresses many marketing ills. But the thing about strategy is it is best when reverse engineered – a wonderful practice for book writers and theory writers. It’s easy-ish to look in the rearview mirror and ‘splain why success happened. Positioning does work for some forward thinkers, but it’s a practice and process. An activity. Find a position in the minds of customers.
I prefer to rally around Claim rather than Position. A brand Claim is a strategic statement of customer value married to brand feature or function. While Claims are malleable and organic, Positions are finite and immobile. If you Position a house by the river and the river moves, you’re toast. If you Claim fertile soil and rich yield, that’s future-friendly.
One can argue that Coke’s brand claim of “refreshment” is both claim and position. I would agree. So it’s not like they can’t work together. But mostly Positioning is process-focused. And Claim is product-focused. Therein lies the difference.