Al Ries – the father of positioning, passed away at home peacefully at the age of 95. The books and lectures by Al and his daughter Laura Ries continue to be my source of inspiration.
I remember the first time I read the book Positioning – the battle for the Mind. The book describes an approach to creating a “position” in the consumer’s mind reflecting the brand’s strengths and weaknesses and those of its competitors. I was blown away by the simplicity.
I immediately purchased all the other books Al Ries wrote – they are all masterpieces and written in a distinct humorous way. Al also wrote great articles for AdAge. Reading was not enough; I watched most of his recorded speeches thanks to YouTube. While the core thinking of Al – positioning for the mind using categories- always comes through, I never got bored by his analysis.
Needless to say: Al Ries became my source of inspiration, and in 2020, I finally decided to thank him personally. I told him a personal story about Nokia – the company I worked for when first encountered the books of Al Ries.
To my great surprise and happiness, Al responded to me (fanboy moment!)
Dear Michiel: Thanks for your kind words and the Nokia story. We keep promoting the same thing. A new category, like the smartphone, demands a new brand name like the iPhone. Look at the electric vehicle business which Tesla dominates. Yet every major automobile company in the world did the same thing as Nokia when the iPhone was launched. They introduced electric vehicles with their existing brand names. All the best. Al
I end this post the same way I ended my message to Al:
Thank you Al for all your insights, lessons, and clear & crisp analysis.