In a previous article I explained in detail that brand positioning is a science as it deals with the biochemical infrastructure of the brain.
It was essential to accomplish this before deepening the reader's study of positioning with a more conceptual framework that I will provide in this article, starting with cornerstone marketing authority Al Ries.
In one of his masterpieces, Positioning, indeed, he defines brand positioning as follows
“Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.
That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.”
“You concentrate on the perceptions of the prospect.
Not the reality of the product.”
Along the same lines, we must explore a specific definition of the word perception. I will adopt the one given by Chris Janiszewski in his essay "Goal-Directed Perception" included in the Handbook of Consumer Psychology edited by Curtis P. Haugtvedt, Paul M. Herr, and Frank R. Kardes:
“The study of perception is guided by metaphors of the mind and the role perception plays within the context of the metaphor. For example, consider the metaphor that the mind is a machine or that the mind operates like a computer program. In this metaphor, perception is an act that allows the system to represent the environment as a series of symbolic concepts that can be input into higher order processes.” (p. 393)
What does this mean?
The human brain is a mechanical engine that operates on the basis of associative thoughts.
The quality of the associative thought is the basis of an action-oriented behaviour.
For example, if I have the perception that a strawberry pie isn’t that good in spite of its appealing appearance, I am not going to eat it unless obliged.
This is the process then:
PRODUCT > PERCEPTION OF THE PRODUCT > ACTION
Deductively speaking, what leads me toward performing a certain behaviour isn’t the product but the perception of that product.
This is the third implication of Tomasello’s theory of perception:
“Perception and behaviour are symbiotic in their representation. If the purpose of perception is to understand intent, and meaning is intentional, then it should not be surprising that any ongoing behaviour can influence perception (e.g., smiling while perceiving an event can influence perception of the event) or that perception can initiate behaviour.” (Ibidem, p. 399)
What is the function of a marketer after all?
It consists of creating a specific and unique favourable perception which automates a goal-directed behaviour.
A business that has become a brand has been able to transmute its offer into an inner dialogue like the ones below:
“Is the engine of my car broken? Jimmy is the best at fixing it. They have recommended him to me multiple times with no reservation at all.”
“Am I planning a date with my wonderful girlfriend next Saturday? Oh, that restaurant on the lake has been featured in the mainstream media multiple times for its amazing view and local traditional cuisine. I do not even need to Google for any other option. It’s already settled. No doubt that I am bringing her there. She will feel the most special queen on earth.”
What you should focus on is the expression “I do not even need to...” or “No doubt that...”
When you have been able to generate this kind of thinking, you have automated the way a niche of target consumers are undoubtedly going to satisfy a certain need.
When this happens you have a new prisoner.
Indeed, this process of purchasing automation is what I define as imprisonment.
I know, to imprison someone is illegal. Unless you just get their brain.
Michel Foucault was the first to examine this powerful mechanism well described in his bestselling book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.
“A real subjection is born mechanically from a fictitious relation [...] He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribed in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.”
As shown by many studies, people tend to overestimate their resistance to influence and free will while they continue to see the world with the same pair of glasses (metaphorically) that are widely accepted in their community or peer group.
A brand is involved in a relation where power is in place, and that power is not only unidirectional but follows a single dogma: making the subject the principle of his own subjection.
And making the subject the principle of his own subjection can be described in the following principle: Automated Internalised Discipline.
Daniel Wegner indeed is straightforward when it comes to this:
“Many behaviours feel like they are determined by conscious will, but are not. People have the illusion of the conscious control over behaviour because they make casual inferences by attending to the contingency between the act of doing and the conscious experience of doing. What people fail to realize is that there are situations in which they behave, but have no conscious experience of doing (e.g., automatic behaviours) and there are situations in which they have a conscious experience of doing, but are not actually in control of their behaviour.” (Ibidem, p. 407)
Thus, reflecting Fourier’s work,
“The key will not be having a conversation with the consumer, as some have suggested. Instead, it will be learning how to encourage the consumer to have the experiences that make the product an integral part of their lives.” (Ibidem, p. 411)
However, discipline, which is the ability to automate certain behaviour accordingly to a specific set of inputs, is a learning process: discipline isn’t an immediate act because by being a process it is extended in time and space.
Brand positioning is the name of that discipline in the business arena.
If you can’t generate an automated behaviour, you aren’t a brand.
How can you start generating an automated behaviour by educating (oops!) disciplining your audience?
The very first intellectual who started to understand the power of PR was Edward Bernays. In his book Crystallizing Public Opinion, first published in 1923, he answered this question as frankly as possible:
“Public opinion has entered life at many points as a decisive factor. Men and movements whose interests will be affected by the attitude of the public are taking pains to have themselves represented in the court of public opinion by the most skilful counsellors they can obtain. The business of the public relations counsel is somewhat like the business of the attorney – to advise his client and to litigate his causes for him.” (p. 53)
This gives me the chance to provide you with the definition of the real PR professional:
“A PR professional is a brand expert who can get you coverage where you need to be when you need to be there.”
However, this exposes a current problem that the industry is facing (with the classic specific exceptions):
TO BE NOTED:
TO BE NOTED AGAIN:
There are only two main reasons why PR still doesn’t have the place it deserves in the brand building process:
Of course, related to point number two, I am generalizing. As written above, I always speak with the classic specific exceptions in mind who do have the knowledge and expertise, but are undermined by enthusiastic professional PR scammers who do not know what they are doing (or talking about).
Do you want to reserve your
Or send us an
e-mail by clicking on the bottom below
Founder and Managing Director at POWER BRAND. PR that Sells for Startups and SMEs,
How to turn your content into a PR advocate
Why you should write a book from a PR perspective
How to use PR to disqualify your competition
How to get media coverage by giving the media what they want
Brand Positioning. Broadcast PR. Brand domination.