Become a Leader in Your Category by Creating a New One

Become a Leader in Your Category by Creating a New One

Take control of the conversation about your brand by defining a category you can own.

In the classic book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Al Ries and Jack Trout, Law 7 is “the law of the ladder.” The basic idea is that you need a different marketing strategy if you’re #2 on the ladder than you do if you’re #1 or #3. Most importantly, if you’re not in the top three, you need to go looking for another ladder.

If you’re not one of the leaders in the category you’re currently competing for, don’t despair. Instead, look for ways you create an entirely new reference point—one that you can own or play a leading role in.

Chrysler defines new transportation category

Chrysler offers one of the most famous examples of this strategy. When their car business stagnated, they took a close look at market demographics. Their research revealed that their customers were looking for something that carried more passengers, but wasn’t a full-sized van or truck. In response, the company created something entirely new: the minivan.

This new innovation established an entirely new category of transportation that didn’t exist before. Chrysler owned it for many years, until competitors came out with competing innovations of their own, including the SUV and other niche vehicles.

Paragraphs positions client product as gold standard

A comparable example in the healthcare space came about when Siemens asked Paragraphs to help them name, position and market a medical device that eventually launched as the “Biograph,” a game-changing product that combined the functions of CT and PET scanners. Before the Biograph, these had been separate imaging technologies in distinct imaging modalities.  By creating a new category of “hybrid scanners,” Paragraphs also helped Siemens to create a whole new measuring stick for the industry—with the Biograph positioned as the gold standard.

From that time on, anything their competition attempted to produce had to answer the question “How does it compare with the Biograph?” More than a decade later the Biograph has withstood the test of time and remains a flagship brand in medical imaging.

If you’re already in a leadership position in your category, evaluate where the next category or ladder might be created. As these examples show, thinking strategically about your category when you name, create, or refresh a brand can shift the entire conversation…putting your brand into a more advantageous position and creating a whole new set of customer expectations that your competitor may find difficult to match.

Next week: Watch for the release of our next parathink briefing, detailing the elements of brand names that encourage sales in healthcare, coming soon! In the meantime, check out the first briefing in the series: Meeting 21st Century Challenges to Global Healthcare Brands. Click here to get your free copy.

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