One of the first steps in a brand positioning project is to measure the brand's equity including its ability to deliver on a variety of category attributes, benefits and values. Sometimes the brand equity study uncovers flaws in basic product and service delivery. For instance, for a retail brand, one might find that the store locations are inconvenient, the hours of operation are inconvenient, the customers cannot find places to park, the bathrooms are filthy, the customers do not feel safe, items are often out of stock, the products are inferior, the prices are too high, the sales associates are rude, the lines are too long or the retailer does not accept certain common forms of payment. While the people running the brand may be looking for that signature thing that will make people choose their brand over other brands, my advise to them is, "Yes, I will help you find your brand's unique value proposition, but first you must focus on getting the basics right."
Sometimes, basic blocking and tackling is required before one can move on to the more advanced plays. While category fundamentals will not lead to differentiation, if they are not addressed properly, differentiation's impact will be greatly diminished.