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Brand, Position and Story - How to Tell the Difference

Updated on October 4, 2013

Just what are we talking about here?

The question came up as we tried to grasp this concept. Just what is the difference between branding and the story? And where does the concept of positioning fit in the whole picture?

Books like Al Ries' The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding mix the concepts of brand, position and story, which is part of the issue when you try to parse out just what your story is and whether it fits with the worldview of your audience.

Getting a good grasp on the three is a key step in getting the marketing right for a product or business. (Or the business right for the marketing.) Let's explore how Seth Godin defined them for us and what they mean for you (and me!) in developing a business plan.

Original text of this lens by Susan Villas Lewis.

Seth Talks About Telling Stories - In a Google Author Talk in 2007

What's the most important part?

See results

Defining Brand

Brand, branding, mark.

Modern marketing talk, definitions and practice tends to confuse the word brand. In the classic sense, the original meaning, brand is the mark that shows you where something originated. The swoosh on the shoe tells you it's from Nike, the stuckout tongue tells you its from the Rolling Stones, the blue and white circle tells you it's from BMW.

These days, marketers tend to just think of that mark as their logo. It needs to embody the branding but they don't consistently use the language that that is their brand. But by classic definition, that's it just like the brand on a lost steer tells you which ranch it belongs to.

LogoLounge - Brands, brands and more brands for your enjoyment

Defining Position

Back to Al Ries, back in the day, he and Jack Trout posited the idea of positioning, which simply has to do with where you are positioned in someone's mind in relation to a competitor.

So Coke and Pepsi are really close in attributes so they occupy a certain segment of our mental map, but 7-Up is the uncola, so it claims a totally unrelated position, thus not really competing with Coke and Pepsi. Healthy granola cereals are still a choice and option for spending your cereal dollars, but Kashi has to concern itself with finding a separate position from Bear Naked rather than worrying about Trix so much.

Positioning - Finding your niche in someone's mind

Defining Story

So now we get to the story. Seth argues that what most marketers typically call their brand these days is actually their story - the narrative about the emotions people feel when using the product.

The story might be that the user feels smarter than the average bear because he knows about the product. It might be that they care more about their children because they bought your safe car. It might be that your product will makes them feel more attractive to the opposite sex.

Your turn to talk. Are you buying Seth's definitions here?

Got a thought to share?

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    • MAbdulsater profile image


      6 years ago

      Very well done indeed. You seem to have a natural flair for marketing and you understand the concepts you're talking about which is admirable. I can see you're well versed with the jargon, mainly due to the relevant books you have read. Touche, and very well done again on the great lens :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      All marketers are liar was a great book, but I am read out. I don't have the time to read any more books!

    • CoolFoto profile image


      9 years ago

      Very thought provoking lens. Hubby and I have had a stock photography business for the past 12 years. It will take a while to apply these concepts to Kuyper Photography.


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