On KOTA and the Art of Brand Positioning
The art of brand positioning, that is, defining what a brand stands for, is imperative for its overall success. Jill Avery and Sunil Gupta suggest that the most important element of the practice is not the “intent” of the brand manager, but the “end result” for the consumer, how consumers actually “catalog, classify and remember a brand.” The overall resonance of a brand, then, seems to be contingent on how effectively a brand is able to define itself as being valuable to a customer. This is a quality imbued in the brand positioning strategy of KOTA Longboards, which effectively equates their brand with not only a specific product but an entire lifestyle.
KOTA accomplishes this early on, in the text of page three of its brand book to be specific. The “brand challenge” KOTA states, is to inspire “all of us to forge our own destiny, to be confident, accountable, rugged and authentic – to act courageously.” The brand book then outlines seven core values that it aspires to, including: Heritage, Quality, Premium, Authenticity, Connection, Emotion, Lifestyle.
These different values are important in establishing what Avery and Gupta refer to as carving out a “unique selling proposition,” a claim that outlines specific reasons for why consumers should purchase a product. However, the two writers make a point to highlight that a USP cannot simply revolve around a logical argument. Ever since the 1960s, marketers and branders have been moving away from this type of approach. They have acknowledged more and more that human beings are not solely governed by logic and reason, and that emotion and perceived identity plays an equal or greater role in purchasing decisions.
It is through this lens that KOTA appears to be operating, and quite effectively. The brand book clearly articulates the types of values the brand exudes. These are reinforced through the various facets of the brand, like the overall design of its product, its charitable efforts with veteran nonprofits, and the very identity of its air force veteran founder, Mike Maloney. This unified approach – tying together values and lifestyles – sets up a brand for success with its target demographics.