This mistake of complacency is one of the foundations of branding failure. Winning brands in the established sector have built marketing that assures their success in a steady competitive environment. The best television ads will upset the apple cart, forcing everyone in the sector to reposition themselves in order to combat a new enemy.
It is remarkably easy for category leaders to settle into an established branding war that fights battles on familiar terms. Each member of the winning class will trade barbs with each other, but the status quo advertising methods of war presides. Very few established brands voluntarily redefine their sector. Most are content to sit back and play out the same battles over decades.
When an upstart enters the frey and begins positioning a brand, it is important that the new product disrupts this equilibrium. Making similar claims as successful competitors will simply show that new product as an upstart trying to gain respect from its betters.
The upstart brand must ask itself, what is customer focus? Why are the category leaders able to dominate with the current brand position? If the upstart brand can question and cast doubt about the leaders dominance, then positioning a brand takes on a whole new stage.
The best competitors don’t openly attacked the brand leader, who is probably beloved. Instead, they go after the very premise of the leaders dominance. They show that the game the leader is playing has changed and it is a new day, with new expectations from the customers, and new attributes to a winning product.
What is customer relationship marketing? It is about planning a new game where the lead product is not the predestined winner of the marketing game. What is customer focus all about, it’s about redefining the category marketing conversation so it starts a new conversation about the product.
Brands like Cadillac get a standard of over-the-top lavish luxury. In order for them to be successful they must continue to play this game. Lexus has done the same thing. Audi’s smartest move was that they picked a brand position that Cadillac and Lexus could not boldly move into. If you’re going to be prestigious, stately, and successful, then it is not except to be sporty, rebellious, and a rule breaker.
Cadillac and Lexus cannot move into Audis branding wheelhouse without seriously wondering off of their main brand message. Audi was smart enough to pick a brand position on the fringes of the luxury market and it will be content to pick away at the category leader with its rebellious message.
Transcription of the Video: “Positioning a Brand: Breaking Into New Markets Using Disruption & Contempt”
Hi I’m Graeme Newell. The luxury car market has one of the highest barriers of entry around. But it’s not just the manufacturing cost that makes it difficult.
You’ve got to convince customers that your product is more than just good, you’ve got to show them it’s exclusive, and this requires an entirely new marketing mindset.
Luxury cars become popular because other people drive them. This makes breaking into the market really tough.
Volkswagen decided that it was time to crash the members-only party with its Audi brand. But how do you take market share from the old guard when they’re the ones that dictate what luxury is? Well Audi shook up the luxury car market with a big dose of contempt & sarcasm. They sought to redefine competitors as old luxury.
They showed other luxury car owners as pretentious, dull fossils. Audi was for vibrant achievers, bent on escaping their grandfather’s stuffy luxury. This was a revolution. New luxury broke free from the old rules. They mercilessly ridiculed the idea of sedentary luxury.
Dull people stick to the old ways. Young, vibrant rebels never succumb. And all those who yearn to be young, rich and dangerous can rest assured they’ve still got it going on.
The crown jewel of this ad campaign aired during the Superbowl – a spoof on the famous Godfather movies. They purposefully chose this iconic scene because it’s a symbol of a bygone era.
It was a hit. For two hours after this ad aired, “Audi R8 Price” was the number one search term on Google. Audi’s emotional driver of old luxury had struck a cord.
So what can we learn from Audi? When trying to break into an established market, it’s important that you don’t play by your competitor’s rules.
Audi was smart enough to jump in with a bold message that exploited a nagging doubt that was already in the luxury buyer’s mind. Great brands don’t just join a category, they redefine it. I’m Graeme Newell, and that’s Emotional Marketing.