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A lot of brands struggle to make inroads into the market place and gain significant mind share. They typically chalk it down to product/service features vs benefits scenario.

But the missing element from this equation is that most brands never actively try and create a category that can be pioneers in and therefore own it.

When I tell my clients that they should create a new category rather than try and be better or faster or cheaper in the current category, most often then balk at me. “What?”, they say. “Create a new category?? That is impossible!”.

Yes, it is impossible if you look at it from a traditional perspective. But marketing has changed.

Consumer perspective has changed.

The way people get their information and make buying decisions has changed. Forget, for a moment, your product or service features and benefits.

Instead, try and imagine what you can say about your product or service that puts in different category to the rest of the competition.

A great example is Marlboro cigarette brand which was relaunched in 1953 as a “masculine cigarette” brand and had great success. They did not say it was a new category.

However they created a visual anchor – the Marlboro Cowboy – to firmly establish themselves as the cigarette for men.

It is all about seeking one angle and associating your brand with it. It is about narrow focus that I wrote about some time ago. Look at your current category and see how you can position yourself as separate category.

Another example is Absolute and Grey Goose vodka brands. They took the ordinary vodka category and made it into a super premium one and in the process dominated the entire category.

An example where not creating a new category leading to disaster is that of the Tesco Fresh and Easy stores in the US. Tesco is a hugely successful and leading supermarket chain in the UK and Europe.

But it crashed and burned in the US with its chain of Fresh and Easy stores and had to close down almost 200 stores! The fault lay in Tesco not creating a new category but rather entering the market as a “fresher” and “easier” version of the existing supermarkets.

Take the case of Apple entering the mobile phone market. Instead doing what the others are doing and coming up with a phone that would have an operating system that mimicked a desktop version (like Windows phone initially did and so miserably failed), Steve Jobs created a whole new category of smartphones with touch interfaces etc.

Yeah, yeah. I hear what you are saying. You don’t have the billions that Apple has to create new categories. The fact is that you don’t need billions to create a new category. You just need some smart thinking and strategy.

You just need some smart thinking and strategy.

If your brand produces affordable and fashionable urban wear, take a deep look into what makes up your market.

  • Who is it that you are targeting.
  • Who is buying your products?
  • How are you trying to differentiate your brand?
  • Could it be that your clothes are meant for the busy professional who likes to wear stylish clothes on the weekend?
  • If that is the case, then do not be afraid to identify that and give it a name and a visual anchor.

Incorporate that into your brand strategy and make sure your messaging and visuals are all about that anchor.If required, change your brand identity to match the new focus.

Spend time, effort and resources in honing the messaging to ensure that you become a pioneer for that niche/category.

At SpellBrand we routinely help our clients gain major mindshare and marketshare by helping them with a robust strategy that often results in creating a new category.

We then help them create the branding and messaging to communicate the new category so that the results are more effective.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.