Food brands positioned properly can do no wrong. As long as you know how to do it.

Throughout my career, I’ve listened to far too many marketers throw around words like branding strategy and… positioning. Very few truly know what these things mean, but the most misunderstood is positioning.

When it is done right, a properly positioned brand can do no wrong. No particular vertical has benefitted more from positioning than the consumer package goods industry and more specifically, food.

Before I discuss one powerful food example, let’s discuss the actual definition of positioning as I was taught many moons ago. It’s very simple: it’s how you position your product. But many still don’t know what that means. It has to be clear-cut and not diluted. Allow me to give you two simple examples using soap:

Irish Spring is: Soap for MEN that has double deodorant protection (because men are apparently just smelly) that smells like a true man (and a pine tree).

Dove is: Soap for WOMEN that moisturizes your body clean for smoother skin.

Now, at one point long ago, they were both JUST SOAP. Most soaps have moisturizing oil but no one ever said so. Most soaps have the power to clean your smelliness, but no one ever said so. So, the positioning of these two brands proceeded to communicate those distinctions.

This brings me to the food case study for today’s post: Kellogg’s Special K. It can do no wrong, apparently. Back in the ’50s, Kellogg’s started flirting with the “healthy” positioning. They positioned it as being a powerful protein-packed food.

Food brandsThe protein angle may have been a bit before its time and needed a little something else. So, they positioned it just for women. Women who wanted to be thin, no less! They used to talk about pinching an inch and even said it was “for girls” in their copy. All of their marketing shows thin and sexy women dressed in red. In today’s culture where “fat-shaming” is as hot a topic as gun control, they still seem to do no harm.

Special K food brands

Special K Workout

Interestingly enough, after years of showing what the media deems “unrealistic looking women” in their marketing, they have responded with a small online campaign with the hashtag #fightfattalk. They say they believe that fat talk is a barrier to managing our weight and that women should stop doing it. How ‘bout that?

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