How to Position a Brand for Breakthrough Success

The former COO of Red Bull gives his insights on how to make a product truly stand out, whether it's a new or revamped offering.

learn more about Gary Smith

By Gary Smith

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Uniquely positioning and repositioning a brand in today's marketplace is vital for achieving success. Many brands, such as Old Spice and Target, have been relaunched to better resonate with consumers. While rebranding has risks, it also has rewards.

After spending many years in the beverage industry working for Pepsi and then as the COO for Red Bull (one of the first companies to launch an energy drink), I became an entrepreneur and purchased Big Red Inc., the maker of a red soda by the same name. Last year Big Red acquired and rebranded Hydrive Energy Water, changing its packaging and targeting customers we thought had been neglected by other brands: middle-of-the-road consumers who shy away from a hard-core energy drink but who may be interested in an energy boost.

Related: How to Build a Brand That Attracts Die-Hard Followers

Here is some branding advice for entrepreneurs that I've picked up along the way:

1. Don't go too niche. For optimal success, don't brand your product as too niche an offering because then it will appeal to only a few consumers. A product's branding should be focused on something a mass audience can relate to.

2. Is the Idea scalable? If your company is considering absorbing, merging or acquiring a new brand, having a sales force already in place is crucial for a smooth transition. Plus, this will serve to minimize expenses. If your existing sales force can be mobilized to call on the same customers and channels for multiple products, significant resources won't be tied up in hiring and training a new team. In some cases, a money-losing brand with considerable sales-overhead costs can be converted into a profitable one overnight.

3. Don't fix what's not broken. One of the most common mistakes in branding is to reinvent the wheel. Hire key people with institutional knowledge to keep your brand on target. If consumers are positively disposed to a certain aspect of your product's brand, keep it. Don't spend time trying to fix something just for the sake of change.

Related: How a Rebrand Helped Spice Up This Cal-Mex Chain

4. Reposition a product when appropriate. This is possible without completely reinventing your brand. Repositioning or pivoting it can help create a clear differentiation of your product in comparision to its competitors. Leveraging existing relationships or potential partners can also work to legitimize a brand as it expands its reach. Finding relevant partners or events to partner with can enable a brand to borrow from the other property's existing equities. That way, the repositioned brand doesn't have to start from scratch in communicating a new meaning to consumers. This is a cost-effective and efficient way to quickly ramp up a fresh position.

5. Make sure the product sells. Just because your product is on store shelves doesn't mean you have succeeded in developing a quality brand. Successful businesses understand and adapt their strategies to meet customers' needs. Invest in consumer research to determine what works and what does not for your brand. Fix important aspects such as product labels or packaging to clearly inform consumers about what your brand stands for. Increased distribution will not save a brand.

Related: This Is How a Brand Loses Its Luster

Gary Smith

Gary Smith is the chairman and chief executive officer of Big Red and led the acquisition and integration of Nesbitt’s, NuGrape, Thomas Kemper hand-crafted sodas and Hydrive Energy Water. Previously he served as the chief operating officer and executive vice president of sales and distribution for Red Bull North America.

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