• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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Brand positioning during the holiday season: Why it fails

A basic branding term is “brand position,” which most believe is the identity or description of who you are and what you do.

If you’ve read this blog and other pages on our site, you know that defintion is not brand positioning if you are to create preference. In order to do that, your brand position has to be a direct reflection of the target audience so that audience covets being a part of your brand. (Nike’s “Just Do It” is a reflection of us who want to be winners, Apple’s “Think Different” is a reflection of us who want to look upon as smarter than the rest, etc.) A brand position is about them, not you.

But putting that aside – and it pains me to do so, because it’s the nut of what makes brand positioning so valuable – it stuns me how many brands, companies and industries ignore even the basic tenets of brand.

Think of this: Positioning, for it to represent a true choice, has to be positioned against your competition. If we’re all in agreement with that, then why do so many players within a particular category all claim the same thing?


Brands across all spectrums claim to have a position, but in fact they do not. Because by its very definition, a position means you must have space between yourself and the other players. In baseball, not everyone defines themselves as a shortstop, yet that’s exactly how many brands operate.

I’ve seen this kind of lazy positioning too often to think it’s an anomaly. Insurance companies all claim they have the best price. Retailers do the same. The cell phone manufacturers claim a lifestyle. Beers all claim great taste. Auto manufacturers claim safety and a driving experience. And on and on.

This madness is why Stealing Share exists, because so many get even the most fundamental parts of brand wrong. Personally, I call it laziness.

I bring this up because, as the holiday advertising inundates us, take a step back and see who actually takes a brand position that’s different and better than its competition. Then watch as brands wonder why their market position didn’t change a bit during the season.

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