A Regimen for Brand Positioning Training

A distinct, consistent brand position is instrumental in achieving differentiation from competitors and scoring with customers. Articulating brand position is vital to the success of a positioning strategy. The audience for which the brand should be relevant must recognize and value the point of difference. To that end, the more ways brand position can be communicated, the greater chance that it sticks with the target market.

One of the most effective brand positioning strategies implemented in recent years has been done by Subway. Its “good for you” positioning in the quick service restaurant category has resulted in market share gains and more importantly, ownership of that brand association in consumers’ minds. The linchpin in Subway’s positioning strategy has been Jared Fogle, a Subway customer whose story of how regularly eating at Subway was part of his dramatic weight loss shone a light on the advantages of eating at Subway compared to burger and pizza fast-food restaurants. Jared’s story as an everyday guy who has benefited greatly from Subway’s products resonates with consumers.

Subway is not content to stand on the basic claim of “better for you,” even though it has been successful. In recent years, Subway has used top-tier athletes as endorsers including swimmer Michael Phelps and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards. Now, Subway and Jared have embarked on a marathon effort to promote the nutritional benefits of Subway, as in an association with the ING New York City Marathon. Jared is training to run in the race on November 7, and Subway has partnered with the event as the “Official Training Restaurant.”

The impact of Subway’s sponsorship of the ING New York City Marathon should be positive, but a greater long-term benefit to the brand stands to be realized. The sponsorship status of “official training restaurant” is one that Subway has bought the New England Patriots and exploring opportunities with other sports properties. The greatest opportunity to promote the status of “official training restaurant” seems to lie with the one audience that does not charge sponsorship rights fees: the consumer. A campaign that touts Subway as the official training restaurant of the everyday athlete (like Jared Fogle) would be a natural extension of high profile sponsorships.

Subway’s association with the NYC Marathon and staking the claim of “official training restaurant” demonstrates that work is never complete when it comes to brand positioning. Even when a brand’s position is solid as is the case with Subway, explore opportunities to drive home your brand’s distinctiveness in new ways.

Marketing Daily – “Subway Positions Itself as Athletes’ Training Choice”

Should You Thank Your Competitors?

The connection between the dateline and headline is merely coincidental.

What reason could a business possibly have to thank its competitors? It is because competition can motivate a business to innovate and generally assume a more aggressive stance in the marketplace. A current example can be found in the quick service restaurant industry. Subway, the nation’s #2 restaurant chain, is about to make a nationwide entry into the breakfast business. Restaurant breakfast sales have been hurt by the recession, but that will not deter Subway from competing against McDonald’s and Burger King. The entrenched competitors have already taken steps to counter the weak economy by introducing lower priced menu items. Subway will compete primarily with breakfast sub sandwiches.

Will Subway’s venture succeed? Time will tell if consumers like Subway’s breakfast menu. Whether Subway succeeds is beside the point. When a competitor with 23,000 locations moves into a category that represents 25% of a firm’s U.S. sales, as is the case for McDonald’s, a business should take notice. Competition can provide a spark to develop new ideas, strategies, or products, benefiting customers in the process. And, it is possible for a business to learn not only from its efforts to innovate, but it can gain insight from the successes (and failures) of competition. That is no April Fools joke!

Marketing Daily – “Subway Joins Breakfast Battle of Titans”