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Ad-Free Brand Positioning Basics

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This chapter covers the basic building blocks of brand positioning and outlines some principles that will help you set up your own brand positioning project for success.
This chapter is from the book

My Introduction to Brand Positioning

One day during my time at Red Hat, when we were struggling through a particularly complex brand challenge, I came back to my desk to find a copy of the Harvard Business Review opened to an article about brand strategy with a handwritten note attached from CEO Matthew Szulik: "Perhaps you should consider finding someone like this to help you," the note said.

For the next day or two, I searched online, looking for brand strategy firms I might be able to enlist to help us work through our branding issue. I ran across all the normal agencies. I made a list. But none of them felt quite right, and I wasn't sure I could afford to hire one even if they were right.

Then it hit me—what if, instead of finding someone like the author of the Harvard Business Review article, I actually just contacted the author himself?

I did a bit of research and found that the primary author of the article, a Dartmouth professor named Kevin Keller, had also written a brand management textbook. So I found his email address and sent him a note to see if he'd be interested in talking about Red Hat.

To my surprise, Dr. Keller responded, and we were off and running. Bringing in Kevin Keller was one of the best business decisions I made during my time at Red Hat. Over the next few years, Dr. Keller became a key advisor on Red Hat's brand strategy, and he helped us work through many complex issues, including a few in uncharted territory.

I tell this story here because I use many of Dr. Keller's brand positioning terms throughout this book. In addition, this book contains advice, stories, and examples I learned from Dr. Keller during my time working with him at Red Hat. In the following section, I use Dr. Keller's terminology as I introduce the four key building blocks of brand positioning.

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