How to Create “Aha!” Positioning for Your Brand with Andy Cunningham

November 20, 2017

“The biggest problem we marketers face today is trying to be all things to all people.” Andy Cunningham would know. She’s spent her career positioning brands. As the jacket of her book says: “Trust Andy. Steve Jobs did.” That’s right. Andy played a key role in the launch of the original Macintosh. We discussed all of this on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

About Andy Cunningham

Andy Cunningham is the founder and president of Cunningham Collective, a marketing, brand and communication strategy firm dedicated to bringing innovation to market. She is also the author of Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition (McGraw-Hill), and the host of the popular podcast Marketing Over Ice.

An entrepreneur at the forefront of marketing, branding, positioning and communicating “The Next Big Thing,” Andy has played a key role in the launch of a number of new technology categories and products (including the Apple Macintosh) over the past 35 years.

Today she advises startups, serves on several corporate boards, is a Henry Crown Fellow and a trustee at the Aspen Institute. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Sausalito on an old wooden boat with her husband Rand Siegfried.

Episode Highlights

It’s easy to forget: “The first six months of the Mac were another dismal failure.” Andy reminded us of an early pivot of the now venerable brand that initially set out to replace the PC at work. “We realized it wasn’t the computer for the rest of us. It was for the best of us.” This led Andy and the team to focus on the creatives who “eventually brought the Mac to work through the back door.”

“You have to find your tribe.” This now-accepted idea was pretty revolutionary at the time. But a lot has changed about how we build brands today.

“Everything today is a dialogue, not a broadcast.” It’s about having a conversation with your customers and community. Speaking of the letter C …

The Six Cs of Positioning. Andy’s new book Get to Aha! builds on the classic work of Al Ries and Jack Trout with a new framework for positioning brands today:

  • Core
  • Category
  • Community
  • Competition
  • Context
  • Criteria

What brand has made Andy smile recently? “Cheddar — it’s like CNBC for millennials.” They’re engaging and they know their tribe.

To learn more, check out the website for her book Get to Aha! and her firm Cunnigham Collective. You can also follow her on Twitter.

As We Wrap …

Before we go, I want to flip the microphone around to our community …
Recently Steve Hutt gave us a shout on Twitter for our episode featuring Amber Armstrong of IBM Watson. Thanks for listening, Steve!

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.