Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Rate this book
The first book to deal with the problems of communicating to a skeptical, media-blitzed public, Positioning describes a revolutionary approach to creating a "position" in a prospective customer's mind-one that reflects a company's own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of its competitors. Writing in their trademark witty, fast-paced style, advertising gurus Ries and Trout explain how to:

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1980

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Philip Kotler

444 books1,127 followers
Professor Kotler's book, Marketing Management, is the world's most widely used graduate level textbook in marketing. His other textbooks include Principles of Marketing and management: An Introduction and they are also widely used around the world.
Kotler developed new concepts in marketing including atmospherics, demarketing, megamarketing, turbomarketing and synchromarketing. He believes that marketing theory needs to go beyond price theory and incorporate the dynamics of innovation, distribution and promotion systems into analyzing, explaining and predicting economic outcomes.
Kotler has worked for many large companies in the areas of marketing strategy, planning and organization, and international marketing.
He presents seminars in major international cities and countries around the world on the latest marketing developments to companies and other organizations.
"He is the father of Marketing Management".

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
6,749 (39%)
4 stars
5,605 (33%)
3 stars
3,184 (18%)
2 stars
879 (5%)
1 star
482 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 513 reviews
Profile Image for Milla Nezlina.
5 reviews5 followers
June 4, 2011
The whole book can be boiled down to 2 key ideas:
- The brand that gets in the mind of the consumer first wins. Who makes the best soda? Coke! The best small cars? VW with its Beetle! The best round chips? Pringles! Tip: Find a narrow niche and hold it tight!
- Line extension is bad (Xerox producing computers in bad, Chevrolet making small cars is bad, even Pantene producing body foam is bad). Tip to companies: Never stray from the business where you are the leader!

I read the updated edition of the book that was originally published in the ate 70's. It is fun to read the comments of the authors like: "30 years ago we thought that Time was an awful name for the news magazine, but now we think that it is better than the generic name Newsweek." - it shows that everything is relative in the world of advertising.
Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
386 reviews113k followers
May 19, 2022
Its old, but its a classic. I was told it's part of the curriculum for Harvard Business school. If you are creating a product or a brand, this is a MUST READ.

Biggest takeaway: you want to create a new category and dominate it. So don't be the 7th biggest social network, be the #1 book recommendation site.

People can only remember the top 3 things in any given category. It's a fun exercise actually, start to think of products and try to name as many brands as you can. Oftentimes you can only get to a few!
Profile Image for C.
1,090 reviews1,050 followers
September 10, 2021
This book tells how to establish a position for your products and company in the minds of prospects. The authors say that the essence of positioning is to make your brand name stand for the generic (e.g., Kleenex).

I like the advice to start with the position you already have (what you’re already known for), and work to improve from there.

It’s mostly applicable to large companies with large advertising budgets, but most principles can apply to smaller businesses. It’s mostly applicable to products, not services, but most lessons can apply to services.

I read it because it was recommended by a local restaurateur. I’ve also seen it on lists of marketing books.

Below are my notes.

“Charging high prices is not the way to get rich. Being the first to (1) establish the high price position (2) with a valid product story (3) in a category where consumers are receptive to a high-priced brand is the secret of success.”

“The place to establish the high price is in the ads, not in the store. The price (high or low) is as much a feature of the product as anything else.”

“There should be no surprises in the store. Your ads don’t have to quote exact prices, although sometimes that’s a good thing to do. What they should do, however, is to clearly position your brand in a particular price category.”

The Power of the Name
A name should begin the positioning process by telling the product’s major benefit. For example, Head & Shoulders Shampoo, or DieHard batteries. But the name shouldn’t be so close to the product itself to become generic. It should be strong, generic-like, and descriptive.

In names, stick with common descriptive words (e.g., Spray ‘n Wash) and avoid coined words (e.g., Qyx).

Prevent customer confusion by putting the product/service you’re known for in your company name. For example, change Continental Corp. to Continental Insurance.

“A name is a rubber band. It will stretch, but not beyond a certain point. Furthermore, the more you stretch a name, the weaker it becomes.”

The Free-Ride Trap
“One name can’t stand for two distinctly different products. When one goes up, the other goes down.” Use different names for different products.

The Line-Extension Trap
The more products hung on a brand name, the less meaning the name has to the average consumer.

Offering a step-down product (lower end version) hurts the prestige of the original.

Positioning Your Business
“Your company’s name ought to stand for something within your industry.”

Don’t try to position based on having better people (staff). Buyers won’t believe it.

“The solution to a positioning problem is usually found in the prospect’s mind, not in the product.”

“Find a way into the mind by hooking your product, service, or concept to what’s already there.”

“If you can start with a strongly held perception, you’ll be that much ahead in your efforts to establish your own position.”

“Start with what the prospect is already willing to give you.” Emphasize your perceived advantages. “Instead of asking what you are, you ask what position you already own in the mind of the prospect”

You find your position by studying your competition, not yourself.

Smaller businesses should position against large competitors, because the large competitors are in the minds of prospects. In ads, exploit their weaknesses.

“A positioning exercise is a search for the obvious. Those are the easiest concepts to communicate because they make the most sense to the recipient of a message. Unfortunately, obvious concepts are also the most difficult to recognize and to sell.”

“The big winners in business and in life are those people who have found open positions near the center of the spectrum. Not at the edge.” For example, “You must be slightly conservative in a field of liberals or slightly liberal in a field of conservatives.”

“Prospects don’t buy, they choose … among brands … The merit, or lack of merit, of your brand is not nearly as important as your position among the possible choices.

“Often to create a viable position, you must reposition another brand or even an entire category of product. As Tylenol did to aspirin, for example.”
Profile Image for Chris Herdt.
197 reviews31 followers
February 3, 2008
This book feels like it was composed via cell phone text messages. Many of the paragraphs are a single sentence.

The main idea is that you cannot make in-roads in an existing market by attacking the top dog. The top dog, the market leader, will beat you every time. Instead, the authors argue that you have to position your product/company/person in the mind of the consumer, in relation to the market leader. And forcing your idealized position on the mind of the consumer won't work, so your position often starts with the existing public perception of your product/service/idea.

The example used numerous times throughout the book is Avis. Avis was not going to convince the public that they were the #1 auto rental agency--everyone knew that Hertz was #1. Hence the campaign: "Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder."

The authors are extremely cocksure, in sometimes amusing ways (my edition is from 1986). For example, they ridicule Arm & Hammer's attempts to sell baking soda personal hygiene products with a Phyllis Diller joke. Who is laughing now, Ries and Trout?

I read this for my marketing class, but it is an interesting book, and a quick read.
Profile Image for Jenny.
377 reviews14 followers
April 15, 2014
This is a good book in need of an update. I read it for a grad school class and while it was interesting in parts, it was very much undergraduate level (Marketing 101) information. The biggest issue I had with it is that every example is out of date. He mentions companies that have now closed down and talks about the great things that they are doing - for example, he talks about how Newsweek is a much better magazine name than Time and will surely be more successful because of it. Since we all know that did not end up being true, it makes you wary of his advice throughout the book. There's another part where he mentions that George Bush is a handsome man and I thought "OK, sure, W isn't too bad, I guess?" and then you realize he means George Bush Senior and the whole book seems like a relic from another time. If publishers would update it with new information on social media and some more modern examples, I could see this getting new life as a must read for students.
Profile Image for Ali Arabzadeh.
165 reviews54 followers
March 14, 2020
این حجم از بصیرت‌های انتزاعی در کتابی کاربردی درباره‌ی بازاریابی و برندینگ حقیقتاً کم‌سابقه و چشم‌گیر است. کتاب، به ویژه در چند فصل ابتدایی، مملو از ایده‌های صریح و کوبنده درباره‌ی جایگاه‌یابی و بازاریابی است و نویسندگان کوچک‌ترین تعارفی در بیان و صدور احکامی که به نظرشان می‌رسد ندارند.
ال ریس یک ایده‌ی مرکزی را با قدرت تمام در کتاب دنبال می‌کند و از آن کوتاه هم نمی‌آید. احتمالا این حد از تمرکز و سرسختی روی ایده‌ای که دارد همه‌جا جواب نمی‌دهد. جالب است که در بعضی موارد به اشتباهاش هم اعتراف می‌کند.
البته این ویژگی هرچه کتاب به پایانش نزدیک‌تر می‌شود کم‌رنگ می‌شود. دست ‌کم به دو دلیل، یکی این‌که کتاب به دام تکرار چند بار‌ه‌ی خودش می‌افتد و سعی می‌کند، بعضاً با وصله پینه، ایده‌اش را در صنایع و درباره‌ی برندهای مختلف کارآمد نشان بدهد که خب همیشه موفق نیست و دلیل دوم این‌که از عمر کتاب نزدیک به 20 سال می‌گذرد و این باعث شده است که فصل‌های پایانی خیلی کهنه به نظر بیاید چیزی که مطلقا در هنگام مطالعه‌ی فصل‌های ابتدایی به نظر نمی‌رسد.
در مجموع کتاب برای همه‌ی بازاریاب‌ها و مدیران برندینگ ضروری است و احتمالا در طرح و تثبیت ایده‌ی جایگاه‌یابی اهمیت تاریخی دارد.
ترجمه‌ی کتاب پراشتباه، کم‌جان و فارسی‌اش بسیار ناهموار است. در بعضی موارد جز با مراجعه به متن اصلی نمی‌فهمید که نویسنده چه می‌گوید و بعضی وقت‌ها با مراجعه به متن اصلی از کاردستی مترجم شگفت‌زده می‌شوید. کتاب‌سازی سیته هم به اندازه‌ی ترجمه بد و خنگ است. کاش این کتاب را آریانا چاپ می‌کرد.
Profile Image for Eric Lin.
128 reviews63 followers
May 9, 2013
I don't read books about marketing. Ever. It was pretty interesting though, since the trends he describes can definitely be observed in action.

However, Ries raised a lot of red flags with how certain he sounded about his assessments. He says things like, "a better name for product X? *name he just came up with*". Sometimes, he makes these statements without much supporting evidence. Anyway, it wasn't a huge part of the book, but he sounded so sure about everything, and that really off-putting for me. A certain degree of uncertainty and humility about his assessments would have been more realistic, but I realize that Al Ries is getting paid, in large part, for his conviction.

Also think this book needs an update, given how much the world has changed since this book was written. It's probably true that the same forces are at work in today's market, but a lot of his examples were lost on me.

Still, an interesting read, that gave me a completely new perspective on the value of good advertising in the marketplace.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Golovatyi.
412 reviews32 followers
July 2, 2018
Крутейшая книга по позиционированию продукта. Очень жалею, раньше ее не прочитал.
Profile Image for Ahmad Badghaish.
612 reviews169 followers
September 22, 2018
One of the classics in marketing. I believe it’s a concept that should be known by every marketer.
Profile Image for George Olaru.
9 reviews18 followers
June 2, 2019
A useful (and general) overview of the importance of positioning and how much it carries on being first in the prospect's mind. Like in any other solution-seeking process, the advice to start with what you already have (and what you're already known for), is often neglected.
Profile Image for Geørge.
58 reviews
June 5, 2020
Absolutelly must read! ამაზე კარგი წიგნი ჯერჯერობით არ წამიკითხავს სტრატეგიული კომუნიკაციის შესასწავლად და ზოგადად როგორ ჩამოყალიბდა თანამედროვე მარკეტინგი. მიუხედავად იმისა, რომ შეიძლება მოძველებული ქეისებით არის მოყოლილი ამბავი, მნიშვნელოვანია პოზიციონირების, როგორც მოვლენის გაჩენა ჩვენს ყოველდღიურობაში.

To succeed in our over-communicated society, a company must create a position in the prospect's mind, a position that takes into consideration not only a company's own strengths and weaknesses but those of its competitors as well.

წიგნის ავტორების დამსახურებაა, რომ მარკეტოლოგებისთვის ახალი მნიშვნელობა შეიძინა ბრენდის ჩამოყალიბებამ და განვითარებამ. სააგენტოების გარდა, მნიშვნელოვანია in house გამოცდილება, რომელიც ზუსტი დავალების, კონკრეტული ამოცანების გამოსაყვანად შეიძლება გამოიყენოთ. ამ წესების გათავისება გეხმარება როგორც ბრენდის სწორად წაყვანაში, ასევე დავალებების კონკრეტულად გაცემასა და სწორი KPI-ების გამოყვანაში.

Advertising is entering an era where strategy is king. In the positioning era, it's not enough to invent or discover something. It may not even be necessary. You must, however, be first to get into the prospect's mind.

ოთხი ვარსკვლავი მხოლოდ და მხოლოდ იმიტომ, რომ რამდენიმე ადგილას კონკრეტული მაგალითების ახსნა ზედაპირული და ბუნდოვანია. სიღრმისეულად გაგებისთვის დამატებითი მასალების წაკითხვა მომიხდა.
Profile Image for Saeed.
173 reviews53 followers
May 14, 2019
If you want to choose a name for your children as the new parents or you want to be more productive and reduce fatal mistakes in your career, this book is for you. It's about the power of branding in social life. I read this book because of Seth Godin's books recommendation on marketing and I must say that Al Ries is a great person that teaching you the essence of Positioning. What a great book! I really enjoyed it. After this book, I want to read all the author's works. Now I read this book plus "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk" which is also a 5-stars book too. My next one is "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service Into a World-Class Brand".

*Highly recommend for someone who wants to achieve prestige and become a high-status person.
Profile Image for Nathan Maharaj.
60 reviews80 followers
November 20, 2019
The opening chapters are very blowhardy: I nearly threw down the book in disgust. But when the authors finally get going they're golden (if fairly dated). Their insights on how brands convey meaning, especially how they fail to carry all the meaning companies intend them to when they create line extensions, all of that stuff is great and makes me want to re-read this in a few years (or maybe grab the audiobook) to see how the knowledge has settled. Absolutely essential reading for anybody trying to figure out what to name their product, or what to do about the next product they want to launch while keeping an existing product in market.
Profile Image for Shannon.
42 reviews21 followers
December 3, 2013
I read this book to help enhance the growth of my start-up ladies leisurewear brand, Broads. While this book had me engage in a lot of critical thinking about typical product placement and where I would like to see my line in five, ten, and even twenty years from now, I felt as if Positioning was a bit dated and put too much of an emphasis on companies with bold names. I was hoping to learn more about creating a solid position in a marketplace that is difficult to 'break' into.
Profile Image for Drew Canole.
1,186 reviews1 follower
November 16, 2017
Another 200 page business/marketing book that would have been better published as a pamphlet. There are some great ideas here though, so I can see why its held its classic status.
19 reviews
June 10, 2020
Some of the case studies were a bit antiquated, but still helpful nonetheless. Included lots of gems that resonated enough to inspire separate note-taking. Got me all the more pumped to start a new job next week, yeehaww 🤠 !
Profile Image for GDM Nagarjuna.
22 reviews17 followers
August 4, 2020
With the disclaimer that there are no golden rules that work out all the time in marketing, the authors do an incredible job in sharing their thoughts and experience on positioning, be it your product, service or a company.
Profile Image for Dhruv Shah.
1 review2 followers
July 27, 2020
(Background: I am an MBA Marketing student from India)
A few essential concepts in a 200+ pages book that is dated and only relevant for big companies. Almost every single example mentioned in the book is of big American companies from the 60s or 70s. As a person born and raised in India, I have to say I was not familiar with the majority of the examples. If you're the same, you might not fully understand every concept explained in the book.

I picked up this book after reading many good reviews on multiple websites (Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, etc.). Some of which put this book into top 5 marketing books of all time. So I was very excited before starting this book. However, I started the book, and I kept waiting for the exciting part to come, but it didn't. There were some essential concepts here and there and some iconic marketing campaigns which I wasn't aware of. However, as I mentioned before, it's a dated book with examples of American products from the 60s and 70s. Even the 20th-anniversary edition with authors' comments is 20 years old. Needless to say, marketing has changed a lot since those days and many ideas mentioned in the book just don't work anymore.
This brings me to the second biggest problem that I found in the book: the lessons and ideas in the book seemed as if they are derived from a limited set of very successful or failed products. And I firmly believe that they can not be generalised to other industries, geographies and time periods. This is evident in comments made by authors in the 20th-anniversary edition, where they have admitted of being horribly wrong about multiple predictions made in 1980 about big brands. And after 20 years of that edition, many more ideas and predictions have proved to be incorrect. So overall, I would not place this book in the must-reads for Marketing considering its relevance and the fact that it only deals with a fraction of the entire marketing process.
Profile Image for Chung Chin.
107 reviews6 followers
October 24, 2014
I agree with other reviewers who commented that the book is in a need of an update - urgently.

I also didn't particularly enjoy the book because of:
1. The style of writing.
The staccato-styled writing is very distracting for me. Of course, I understand that this is a personal grouch.
2. Repetition on the importance of being first and a very good name.
What happens to those that are not first to market? While there's a section that explains how to position as a follower, I feel that the book is EXTREMELY biased such that the author thinks the importance of being first to market cannot be trumped. I agree that being first to market has its advantages, but there's really one slot for number one. So, now what happens to the rest? I don't think the author did a very good job explaining how to position as a follower. It reads more like a "Well, I'm sure someone will ask this question. Let's see if I can get done with it with a few sentences." And then the author harps about the importance of having a good name, but doesn't go into details on how to name a good name.

So I won't be highly recommending the book to anyone. If anyone disagree, I'm really open to see what kind of lessons they have learned and successfully implemented for their business. Until then, this remains a big chunk of wasted time for me.
Profile Image for Adam DuVander.
21 reviews7 followers
June 4, 2018
A classic whose concepts are covered more succinctly in the authors’ follow up Immutable Laws of Marketing. There are more detailed examples here, but it suffers from even more dated company and trend references (drugs and airlines that haven’t existed since the 70s, a positioning plan for a Western Union service, and hailing cable TV as the next great frontier).

I want to applaud the concepts, which I think are timeless. But I keep getting tripped up by the ancient references.
Profile Image for TarasProkopyuk.
686 reviews94 followers
May 10, 2015
Эта как и другие книги Траута и Райса очень основательно проработана. Авторы молодцы и прописали в книге множество золотых правил и предупредили от всевозможных ошибок.

Хотя в некоторых моментах я лично не согласен и готов поспорить с авторами, но всё-таки в целом считаю эту книгу довольно хорошей.
Profile Image for Curtismchale.
191 reviews16 followers
December 30, 2018
Meh if you're a big brand and need to think long and hard about how your single product in a swath of products fits in a market then sure this is a decent book to read. For small business and solo consultants there are much more useful books out there where you'll get some actionable advice.
Profile Image for Sky.
1 review6 followers
December 27, 2011
Mind Buggling experience as I battle with this book :)
Profile Image for Tom McInnes.
178 reviews8 followers
January 24, 2019
This is, like so many books of its type, a very good pamphlet with about 170 pages of unnecessary examples.
7 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2022
The book is already a little outdated, but most principles still hold. Its main premise is that we live in an overcommunicated society (and, mind you, this was written in 1980), so to make an offering stand out, you should carve out a clear position that clearly differentiates from other players in your potential customers' minds. I've selected a few takeaways to share:

• First-movers have an easier time defining a segment and being associated with it. It bears remembrance.
• We have a product ladder for each type of product category (up to 7 products usually – i.e for soda I think respectively of Coke, then Pepsi, then Guaraná, then Fanta).
• Oftentimes it is better to tell the prospect what the product is not rather than what it is (makes it easier to create a place for it in their minds).

How to act when you are number 2 in a product ladder?
• Never advertise your aspirations. Never act like the main player.
• Being the number 2 is valuable: people like the underdog and you can position yourself in comparison to the #1 player.
• Alternatively, carve out a niche market inside this broader market (but caution: it really has to be a market inside prospects’ minds).
• Introduce a follower product fast when the segment’s product ladder is still fluid (even before the product is really improved).

• Positioning is how you place your offering inside the mind of a prospect.
• In an overcommunicated society, your position should be very clear and explore a specific space that others don’t. As a response to overcommunication, consumers will oversimplify messages, so we should help them do that.
• Never go head-to-head with an established leader of a category.

When you’re #1:
• It makes sense to advertise your product category (and never say “we’re #1” – you’re either insecure or why doesn’t the prospect know you’re #1?).
• If you invented the offering, say so – this will occupy a special place in the prospect’s mind.
• The product comes before the organization.
• Cover moves from new entrants fast! Usually by having a multibrand strategy.

• Territorize the competitive landscape and find out what your prospects value (i.e. Russian vodka, Pringles tube, etc).
• Repositioning is different than comparative ads (not effective).

• Almost, but not quite generic (i.e. Band-aid). We must take chances. (i.e. in dried coffee, Maxim was first, but Tasters’ Choice is way better and became the market leader)
• Beware of line extensions. (i.e. Pepsi Light, Pepsi Black, Pepsi etc etc – how does the bartender know which Pepsi you’re ordering? Or do the shopping-list test: if I order X, will the specific X for sure be delivered?).
• Avoid using acronyms – even if it derives from a very famous name, eventually younger people won’t know what it stands for and in the long-term you will fade away.
Profile Image for Jorė.
182 reviews12 followers
January 19, 2019
I'm not sure it's even four stars. I've really struggled through the bigger half of the book, but maybe its just me bored of reading advertising/marketing stories and preferring anything else.
For those who want a short version, there's an old interview "The mind is the ultimate battlefield" with Al Ries - it perfectly served me since the university days and gave a good enough understanding of what the big idea is.
There are certain values of the long read:
- historical overview of marketing landscape 40 years ago - there's always some charm in those stories. Oh the days when Western Union was innovating in the telegram's field or Xerox was hoping to take more than only the copy machines market. Lovely
- good mind exercise at trying to come up with current examples to prove or disapprove the points. Disapproving is, sure, more fun thing to do.
- another good exercise is rethinking what still works and makes sense - or how it can be made to work.

From the intriguing parts, there's a chapter on personal positioning. Who could tell these days that "chap, there are six horses you can ride to success - but pick a good one, because it's not the rider, but the fastest horse who wins" Beat that.
And all the worries what the huge information overload our world suffered 40 y ago. I feel them.

So ok, it's worth 4 stars.
Profile Image for Martti.
577 reviews
February 6, 2019
The brand that gets in the mind of the consumer first wins.

Line extension is bad (Xerox expanding into computers with the same product name "Xerox" is not recommended). “One name can’t stand for two distinctly different products. When one goes up, the other goes down.” The more products hung on a brand name, the less meaning the name has to the average consumer.

How to establish a position for your products and company in the minds of prospects. The authors say that the essence of positioning is to make your brand name stand for the generic (e.g., Kleenex).

The main idea is that you cannot make in-roads in an existing market by attacking the top dog. The top dog, the market leader, will beat you every time. Instead, the authors argue that you have to position your product/company/person in the mind of the consumer, in relation to the market leader.

I would summarize this book as a view into corporate marketroids headspace.
Profile Image for Maris.
85 reviews2 followers
December 29, 2021
Rules on how to make yourself heard in a market that's already crowded with too many products. I was surprised that there was so much emphasis on how important it is to have the right name for your product, company, and yourself for that matter. That's where you play with minds. The book of course follows the ideas and logic of 80/20 - winning companies in their areas have the best names AND take the biggest profits. But the market is also dynamic and if you position yourself correctly and name your product well, you can become a leader of a market part, especially if there otherwise lacks defined competition. Starbucks took the coffee market by making it a luxury brand in US where coffee was a cup of dark liquid in a styro cup with some packet of sad creamer with it. Sounds like Starbucks would have had a very hard time launching in Italy ;)
Profile Image for Ana-Maria Bujor.
833 reviews53 followers
August 3, 2020
I am actually working now on launching a new product. This book was very useful in helping me put my thoughts together. While stating the obvious, this book manages to make you feel like you've discovered America once again. Loved the examples and the reasoning behind all of it.
Sure, some things are a bit outdated, in the end Pringles did end up being successful and the book is repetitive at times. But these are small hindrances. If you want to communicate something to people, including if you are trying to "sell" yourself, this book can be quite useful. I see where it gets its praises from.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 513 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.