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Unforgettable to Unremarkable: A Recipe to Forge Mediocre Brands

By Daniel Pandza - Interlub Group
Community Innovation Catalyst


By Daniel Pandza | Community Innovation Catalyst - Mon, 05/08/2023 - 09:00

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In the world of iconic brands and the visionaries who built them, few have left a legacy as enduring as the late Dietrich Mateschitz, founder and former CEO of Red Bull. With his uncanny ability to think outside the can, Mateschitz transformed a little-known energy drink into a global phenomenon — a brand synonymous with pushing boundaries and defying the limits of human potential.

But hey, who needs game-changing success when you can be, like most brands, a mediocre failure? Just follow this advice:

  1. Choose crowded product categories.

The first and most important decision leading to mediocre brand positioning is choosing a well-established product category with strong, established brands that enjoy high rates of customer loyalty. This is vital because loyalty is associated with brand strength. The stronger your competitors' brands are positioned in the minds of your target audience, the higher the barriers for your brand, making it costly for competitors like you to overcome.

Big-Cola entered the soft drink category and achieved a stellar $1 billion USD in annual revenues (Statista Research Department, 2022) by positioning its brand as an "affordable alternative to traditional sodas, with a focus on low price.” 

Red Bull, on the other hand, could have also been seen as just another cola drink. They missed this opportunity by inventing a new type of energy drink subcategory. By positioning itself as a functional beverage, focusing on energy and mental focus, Red Bull unfortunately made the powerful Coca-Cola brand somewhat irrelevant, carving out a space to become a $7 billion dollar brand  (Pereira, 2023 ).

  1. Limit innovation and differentiation.

The second most important decision leading to mediocre brand positioning is limiting your innovation investment. Aim for introducing minor innovations that will help you stay below the radar or ensure, at least, that your new features will not be appreciated by your target customers. The less noticeable your differentiation, the higher the likelihood your brand will remain mediocre.

Big-Cola made sure that the taste of its products is very similar to established brands. However, with the package size they went big, introducing 2-liter bottles and the price went down to be noticed by price-sensitive buyers who will stay loyal to the brand as long as it's the cheapest brand on the shelf.

Red Bull, on the other hand, focused on a small but clearly defined tribe, radically changed the flavor, introduced a new slim silver can that signals that less content has more power than the typical soft drink, crafted a memorable tagline (Red Bull Gives You Wings), launched the iconic "Red Bull Flugtag" (Red Bull Flight Day), their own media channels (Red Bull TV, RedBull.com, etc.) and even their own Formula 1 Racing team (Red Bull Racing) that not only reaches millions of customers around the world, but also assures brand preference when consumers choose the new category.

  1. Do not promote the new category

If you, mistakenly, I hope, introduced a new product category or subcategory through substantial or transformational innovation, you can still manage to limit your brand relevance and achieve mediocrity. How? Just make sure that your definition of your category is fuzzy enough to maintain a healthy level of uncertainty and ambiguity. This will, according to David A. Aaker (2011), definitely lead to the changing compositions of relevant brands, depending on the circumstances, the application, the brand's availability and price, the competitor's price, and so on (Aaker, 2011).

Red Bull not only carefully managed its brand but also the positive perception of the new subcategory. Their initial challenge was on clarifying the relevance and increasing the visibility of the new energy drink category in the mind of potential consumers, identifying the aspirational associations of the category, and designing marketing programs to realize them (Aaker, 2011).

Mediocrity is a choice, and as we've seen, it's vital lackluster brands. By following in the footsteps of Big-Cola & Co., you too can blend into the sea of uninspired products and brands that fill our shelves and screens. The choice is yours: embrace mediocrity and play it safe or dare to unleash the power of your brand by challenging the status quo and rewriting the rules. However, remember that fortune favors the bold, and your brand's potential lies in your hands.

About the Author:

Daniel Pandza serves as the Chief Brand Officer at Interlub Group, also known as The Uncommon Lubricant Company. He has been privileged to collaborate with skilled professionals who have not only positioned Interlub and Interglass as innovative and forward-thinking brands but also driven the company to become a category leader in numerous subcategories. These include productivity-boosting lubricants, sustainable lubricants, and high-temperature resistant lubricants, all of which have unleashed the potential of maintenance teams in the global container glass, steel, and mining industries.


Author´s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pandza/ 

Interlub´s website: https://interlub.com

Photo by:   Daniel Pandza

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