Al Ries – The Godfather of Positioning

Al Ries – The Godfather of Positioning


Al Ries, the godfather of positioning, passed away last October at the age of 95. I’d like to thoroughly acknowledge him for his works and accomplishments. A lot of my knowledge in marketing was started and enhanced thanks to his great works. His book, “Positioning—The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, is incredible and as applicable as the day it was written. I highly recommend reading this book.

Mr. Al Ries, along with Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, and Peter Drucker, was selected as one of the “Top 10 Global Business Gurus” as the representative of Positioning Theory by a prestigious American media outlet. He was also inducted into the “Marketing Hall of Fame” in 2016 by the American Marketing Association (AMA), who praised his pioneering Positioning Theory for its’ broad and far-reaching impact on the global business community.

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The mind thinks in comparisons. We always compare the Part 1 of a movie with the Part 2, we compare that restaurant we just went to, with the other one we tried before.

We view a brand that we know with one we don’t know. We have something that is unfamiliar in our minds, so we compare it to the familiar. Brilliant!!

You can position something below, above or beside something else. For example, you have just launched a cleaning company and you position yourself with “Our company is just as clean as Mr. Clean” (positioning with something that is familiar) or, you can be bold and take the top positioning with “Our company is cleaner than Mr. Clean” (positioning above a product); or, you can position below the top competitor like Avis did with, “We’re Number 2. We try harder.”

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Al Ries has this to say about Tesla, and branding in general, in the 9 months prior to his passing:

“Prospects don’t file brands in alphabetical order. Or in timely order. They file brand names in categories. And they often list them by reputation or sales. Here is a typical example of how one prospect might file some automobile brand names.

Most prospects file Tesla in “electric cars,” especially first-time electric-vehicle buyers, who don’t remember any electric-vehicle brands except Tesla.

But where do they file Chevrolet?

General Motors made a serious error by not giving its’ Chevrolet electric vehicle a different brand name. The same mistake being made by almost every major automobile company in the world.

A new category demands a new brand name.”

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At DIT Web Solutions we can survey people for what will make an audience buy more of your products and services.

We can then do Positioning Surveys to position your product in the marketplace.

This kind of market research and findings from the surveys can be used to improve all your promotion and marketing efforts such as branding, Social Media campaigns, website messages, and more.

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I wrote an article on Coca-Cola last year and I sent it to Al Ries, he replied:

“Great article. Thanks for sending me a copy.  The research shows that Pepsi tastes better than Coke. But most consumers think the opposite. Why? Because the brand name affects the perception of taste.

“Take two bottles of wine with exactly the same contents. Mark one bottle $10 and the other bottle $20. Then do taste tests. Most consumers will think the $20 bottle tastes better.”

“All the best.


Thank you Al, from the bottom of my Greek heart, for all you have given us in marketing.


Louie Pateropoulos

Book your free Strategy Chat with Senior Partner,
Louie Pateropoulos.

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