It’s never been easier to set up a business today. Any yet it’s never been harder to differentiate your business in a marketplace, squeezed tighter than a shopping bag on black Friday. With the wave of the digital revolution, came floods of new companies eagerly capitalising on the eradication of major start up barriers to entry. Create a website and instantly you don’t just have a small business but a global one. If only it were that easy.

A new brand nowadays is like a young gazelle bravely attempting to cross crocodile infested waters. The business world is ruthless. Many aggressive predators lurk ready to feast on any fresh meat entering their waters. Rarely do these mavericks reach the other side. But there is hope. With determination, good luck and ridiculous work ethic a minority will succeed. While the rest will be eaten alive.

I’m not attempting to create a morose picture of the future that not only deters effort but also kills dreams. Nor am I playing Bad Santa clutching coal and firelighters, anxious to sadistically set alight that special business idea you had, which you told yourself would one day be your ticket out of here. Instead, I offer a secret that if acted upon could imbue new brands and market entrants, with the confidence and the strategic vision to succeed.

The secret is a great positional strategy that extrapolates the brand from all competition in the marketplace. Accordingly, to understand great positioning let’s look at 5 brands that successfully entered dangerously crowded waters, and not only survived but thrived.

Orchard Thieves

Sector: Cider Market

A relatively new entrant in a market dominated by Bulmers, Orchard Thieves have already been hugely successful. Millennials treasure variety and different options. Orchard Thieves sought to create a fresh and different cider experience for these novelty junkies. The product tastes sweeter than Bulmers and is softer on the palette.

Notably Orchard Thieves challenged Bulmers in both the retail and publican market with its wide distribution and comparable availability. The retail packaging is striking with a red stone bricked wall wrapped around their 8 pack cans range while the product itself carries a clean picture of an apple on the can. In pubs the drink is served in a long neck pint glass which makes the drink and drinker seem special standing out from the crowd.

It was launched as a hip new product with its slogan “Be Bold” with a fox as the brand symbol. This positions the brand as quirky, exciting and a bit of a “bad boy” in the marketplace. Ultimately, this positional strategy has made them one of the fastest growing cider brands today.

Virgin Atlantic

Sector: Aviation

When Virgin airlines started, many didn’t see any opportunity for a new airline. Except for Richard Branson that is. He saw the aviation industry as having become boring and not very customer friendly. Virgin didn’t want to be an ordinary airline they wanted to perpetually “Fly in the face of ordinary”. A fun way to travel while providing value in people’s lives, was the Virgin mission. An airline with a big personality and not be afraid to express it.

Coupled with this was the aim of creating a culture, where their employee’s happiness is key to achieving customer satisfaction goals. Chiefly, this customer focus extended to treating customers like guests encouraging customer advocacy.

Heinz Seriously Good Mayonnaise

Sector: Sauces and condiments

Earlier in 2016, Heinz rebranded their mayonnaise launching Heinz Seriously Good into the marketplace. Backed by an aggressive marketing and instore promotional campaign, the aim was to challenge Helmann’s more competitively than its predecessor. “Add a little magic” to our meal we were told, cheekily suggesting Heinz mayonnaise could bring any meal to life.

The packaging was radically changed from a plastic sqeeze tube to a medium sized wide jar. In addition, the jar is particularly distinctive creating a perception of elegance and quality. This firmly positions the product for the medium to upper class market. The name Seriously Good also primes the customer, literally describing the anticipated taste of the product pre-purchase. So far, it has performed much better than expected.

Ben & Jerrys

Sector: Ice Cream

Ben and Jerrys didn’t just want to be another ice cream. They are a proud American brand founded from humble beginnings and want the world to know. Social and Environmental issues are at the heart of their core values and it is this customer and humanity focus that enhances their uniqueness.

Markedly, the product focus is on creating a high quality offering to the customer with only the best ingredients (always free trade) sourced. It is positioned for the high end market which is reflected in their pricing strategy. The nature and undertone of the whole company is very youthful, friendly and caring which builds trust with the customer. All their advertising and packaging embodies their positioning strategy as a weird, funky and relatable business.

Monster Energy

Sector: Energy Drinks

The energy sector was an industry ruled by one major player for a very long time – Red Bull. Many other companies like Coca Cola attempted entry only to see their brands fail to take off. However they were left to look on ruefully and wistfully as Monster Energy didn’t just enter but exploded onto the energy drink sector.

Monster Energy is different and determined to show it. The product is in a larger 500ml can, standing out and over Red Bull, increasing shelf and brand visibility. The name “Monster” also denotes the power, strength and stamina associated with an energy drink. Sponsorship and involvement in extreme sports is one of their core aims, as it encompasses their appeal as a drink symbolising risk taking and high energy. And what is their company vehicle? Well it’s a powerful v8 black pick up truck. A brand not afraid to express what they stand for.

Positioning your brand

By now I hope I have conveyed the vital role positioning plays in succeeding in a competitive environment. You must position your brand properly and make it completely unique in its marketplace. Do not replicate any other successful brand but instead look at your company’s core values or what you envision them to be. When you know what they are and what your brand will stand for, then don’t whisper it, but scream it from the rooftops!!