Positioning is basically just a "I am better than others" tactic, which should make it clear to the customer why their own brand is more valuable than all the others in order to convince the customer to buy. But what if there was a better way? One in which you wouldn't have to be able to assert yourself and compare yourself with all your competitors? Framing is one such possibility that comes with it. How does that work?
By simply becoming THE example for a particular category or subcategory!
But first, what does positioning actually mean? In short: the positioning of a brand is based on the short-term communication goals the brand has and harmonizes the vision with the market. It reflects the reality of what the brand can actually achieve and provides the necessary differentiation from competing brands - in other words, the reason why the customer should choose this brand.
The problem of positioning is due to the definition itself. The brand positions itself next to others and can therefore be measured and compared with others. This is only one of many who try to outdo the market leader in the respective category. And here is the crucial point: the market leader in the category! How was it able to establish itself as the market leader? Is it more innovative? Does it have a larger marketing budget? Better employees? The best product? Or rather the best customer service?
Categories basically represent frames that tell the company and its products how they are allowed to move in them - verticals with the respective subcategories. In the normal sense, these frames are fixed entities that are not broken through. If something has four wheels, it is a car. Fact.
But what happens if you don't understand the frames as something completely stable, but let them be pulled and changed as if they were Lego bricks made of clay? Well, then you could think of a completely different variant of the competition. Out of "My brand is better than yours", into the possibility that leaves your own company completely uncompetitive, because it is simply the only relevant brand in the respective sub-category. You change the feeling, the discussion and the whole perception of the category by the customer.
It's not about finding your fixed place in a subcategory, but simply about creating your own. Just as a MacBook is not anchored in the category "laptops", but has created the subcategory "laptops with a focus on design" for itself. For a long time, the Toyota Prius was the absolute market leader for hybrid vehicles. Tesla stands for electric vehicles, like the iPhone for smartphones or Netflix for video streaming. Each competitor in these categories must therefore first stand alongside the market leaders and be measured against them. This is a situation that a brand would not want to get into.
Unlike simple brand positioning, framing does not necessarily result in the brand being presented as better or more relevant than the competition in the same subcategory. The brand IS the subcategory, and therefore the only relevant brand for the customer anyway. It is therefore not a question of measuring oneself against the competition and positioning between them, but of making them completely irrelevant. That is the power of framing.
It is utopian to think that the customer wants to deal with the (new) brand at the beginning of the buying process. To deal with the individual features and benefits. The customer usually has no motivation and definitely no time for that. In most cases, the customer first decides on a category - a new e-bike for the mountains, a new jukebox with outstanding design, a compact notebook for the university. So as a company you change the communication from "My brand is better than yours" to "My brand is the only relevant one in this category". So you change the customer's purchase decision to be the first decision in the buying cycle. To dominate this step of the first decision by the customer can already decide about winning. The customer cannot ignore the brand because he chooses the category that is much bigger than the brand.
Basically there are two possibilities to build such a frame. Either you create a completely new subcategory, similar to the structure of a brand, or you extend an existing subcategory. By adding absolute "must have" features to the product and making it clear to customers that these features are absolutely necessary, you create a new definition of the subcategory so that competing products are suddenly weakened.
So the competition has to retrofit, suddenly compare itself with the new innovation leader, which is the example of the whole subcategory and best represents it. The brand is thus automatically perceived by the customer as the most visible and credible brand.
Once this status has been achieved, the subcategory is under control and can be continuously developed further. Your own brand is therefore the innovation driver and sets the direction, while your competitors are on the defensive and can only adapt.
By constantly expanding the subcategory and remaining innovative, the brand itself is perceived as dynamic and much more interesting. As an example for the subcategory, it remains more relevant and therefore much more valuable.
Such frames are usually only perceived very unconsciously and it is often not clear that they exist at all, but that's what makes them so powerful. Once they're built and established, they're very hard to change and permanent. The competitors will of course take advantage of that and classify themselves in the new subcategory, but that's exactly when you win! From here on you are the example for the subcategory, where everyone has to be judged.
Framing is therefore an incredibly powerful tool to push your company and your own brand upwards, instead of just making yourself comparable through marketing. Because quite honestly, the "My brand is better than yours" seems rather ridiculous. Or would a leading brand have to claim something like that?
In this sense, stay relevant - stay creative!