Two Kinds of Positioning Statements
There are two kinds of Positioning Statements: Hereditary and Assumptive.
Hereditary Positioning Statement
A Hereditary Positioning Statement comes from the heritage, or “birthright,” of a business, product or service.
Coca Cola, for example, has used the slogan “It’s The Real Thing” because Coke is the original soft drink; the implication that other brands are less authentic is a natural outgrowth of Coke’s heritage. No other soft drink could believably call itself “the real thing.” Therefore, this statement is hereditary positioning.
The name of the business, product or service can also serve as a springboard from which a hereditary line can be launched. Dr. Pepper, in creating “Just What The Doctor Ordered,” used this approach.
Another variation is to play upon the name of the business, using homonyms or homophones (words that look or sound the same) to create a Hereditary Positioning Statement. So long as the line is believable in claim, and relevant to the product, this approach is appropriate and valid.
An example is John Deere, which used the line “Nothing Runs Like A Deere.” No other competitor could have used that line—it ties too closely to the name, or birthright, of the company itself.
Assumptive Positioning Statement
Assumptive Positioning Statements are by far the most widely used form of positioning lines, mostly because most advertisers do not have “birthright” uniqueness with their business, product or service.
In Assumptive positioning, an advertiser identifies one specific benefit of its business, product or service that the advertiser wants to own. A Positioning Line that states this benefit assumes the position, and is therefore termed “Assumptive.”
An example of an Assumptive Positioning Statement is Mc Donald’s, “We Love To See You Smile.” Certainly any other fast food company could have used this line. However, Mc Donald’s used it first … and assumed the position. Likewise, American Airlines struck first with the slogan, “Something Special In The Air.” This generic statement could have been equally as effective for United Airlines or even Southwest, but American seized it first.
If you decide to create an assumptive positioning line, you’ll be saying something that just about any other business could—you’re just saying it first.