Commentary

Branded: 'Different'

When Cory Treffiletti tells me to "Listen up, because this is important!" I do because he is a pretty smart guy and runs a super-smart company (even if I am not really sure what Marketing Capital is). What he wanted me to listen to was his notion that  "There are only four positioning statements available for any brand in the world, and all brands in the world can fit into one of these four positioning statements. They are: first, biggest, best or different."

Talk about cutting to the chase. Think of the books I don't have to buy and classes I don't have to take on branding if I just keep Cory's Famous Brand Hypothesis in mind. The real test, of course, is to apply it to a brand and see how it stress-tests. So why not the George H. Simpson brand?

First - Naturally, the first thing everyone does to find out anything is to Google it. If you Google me, you will find that I kick ass for about five or six pages deep, mostly because my name has been distributed over the Web on other people's press releases for 30-some years. While it is gratifying to achieve the top natural search ranking in Google without spending a nickel in SEO, it does hurt my feelings that nobody thinks what I do is important enough to insert a few paid ads around my name to try and siphon off some of my karma. I wasn't ever first in my class, first in line, or even firstborn in my family. I might, however, be the first to write about Cory's Famous Brand Hypothesis.

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Biggest - At nearly 6'4" and 240 lbs, I am probably among the biggest PR people in the online ad space, but it seems not to intimidate reporters into covering my clients for fear of their lives or well-being. Perhaps that's because I haven't beaten the hell out of one of any of them yet, although it certainly crosses my mind on occasion. Being the biggest otherwise is pretty much a pain -- especially in airline and theater seats. And if we all drive to the game, I'm not riding in the backseat. On the subway in New York, if you are as tall as me, you see the top of a lot of heads -- and trust me, that's often not a pretty sight. Maybe this is an envy thing, since Cory was probably one of the last kids selected in pick-up games.

Best - Oh boy, that's a hard one, since there are lots of opinions about who is the best at anything. Seems if you want to be the best athlete in your sport, all you have to do is turn down offers from New York teams. When I give my kids money, I am the "best" dad ever, but then a couple days go by and I revert back to "annoying" status with them. I try to be the best writer I can, but if spelling is factored into my work, I will be a perpetual bridesmaid. If you say I am the best PR guy in this space, it hurts Mark Naples' feelings -- which is something I try never to do, since he is a sensitive soul from the City of Brotherly Love.

Different - Now, this is a segment of Cory's Famous Brand Hypothesis I can grab onto. Ask any of my clients and they will shake their heads, perhaps throw up their hands, and say, "Oh, he's different all right." What other PR guy writes a column that runs a very real chance of not only pissing off the reporters that determine how successful he can be, but also an occasional client when he calls out some of the stupider stuff that happens in the online industry. I routinely piss off eco freaks, religious fundamentalists, CEOs of major corporations, some guy out in the Midwest with too much time on his hands, my editors here at MediaPost, not to mention my family -- whose foibles are often on display here for all the world to read.

And with your permission, my "brand" will keep being different by coming down from the hills after the battle is over and shooting the wounded.

Meanwhile, have a happy holiday.

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