The First Successful Repositioning In History

repositining history

What do you do when the existing perception of your brand in the minds of your customers is unfavourable or faulty?

Do you try to change your brand’s promise and personality?

Do you try to alter its identity to suit their needs, wants, and desires better?

Well, this is what repositioning is all about.

The process isn’t new. Almost all the brands like Colgate, Nintendo, McDonald’s, Google, etc. have repositioned themselves over time.

Colgate started off by selling starch, soap, and candles. It repositioned itself as a toothpaste company after 70 years of business.

Wrigley, the famous chewing gum company, started off by selling soap and baking powder as well.

And Nokia was started as a paper mill.

But it all started long back – at times when brands were royal names and their assets were kingdoms. And the first product brand to be repositioned was not something that you’ve imagined –


The Story Of Potatoes

Unbelievably, the story of repositioning evolved from King Friedrich II the 18th-century ruler of Prussia. Prussia then was a bread-eating state with a dedicated and hearty ruler. But soon this bread-eating state could not afford bread. The prices of bread went soaring high, and Prussians saw starving as a better option than buying the expensive bread.

Within no time, Friedrich II found his kingdom on the brink of famine.

Now, to save his kingdom, he had to come up with an economical yet healthy alternative to bread. He examined all crops, their prices, nutritional value, harvest periods, etc.

The potato’s portfolio topped the exam. Potatoes were cheap, full of starch, and quick to harvest.

But why weren’t Prussians growing potatoes already?

Well, they were, but for the fresh and beautiful flowers it bore, not for the muddy and dirty crop.

Image Source – Reddit

The Failed Positioning

King Friedrich II saw something more valuable beneath these flowers.

He saw the agricultural and nutritional potential of the potatoes to help control the famine breakout. So he immediately ordered all peasants and farmers to cultivate potatoes.

He positioned the potatoes as – cheaper than bread, easy to grow, full of starch and fat to save one from starvation.

But the peasants paid no heed to his order. They said that the potatoes looked dirty and had no taste.

“The things [potatoes] have neither smell nor taste, not even the dogs will eat them, so what use are they to us?”

They called potatoes ugly, spotty, muddy and had no time to waste on it. King Friedrich II’s positioning was a huge fail.

The Pivot

He immediately devised a repositioning strategy to encourage the citizens to grow and consume potatoes. This was the culmination point of the first-ever successful repositioning strategy known in history.

He began by building his royal potato field. He set up a piece of land and cultivated potatoes in it. Next, he placed royal soldiers to surround and guard the field. He instructed the royal soldiers to guard the field negligently and take frequent naps at night.

Image Source – NewYorkTimes

As Prussians would pass by the field, they wondered what’s happening. They thought that only something very valuable would require such heavy vigilance by royal guards. This built mystery and curiosity.

Now the townspeople wanted to grab hold of the mystery item. They were so intrigued that they ventured out at night to get their hands on it.

But the King had forecasted this, which is why he had previously ordered the guards to be negligent and take long hours napping. This helped the townspeople get into the fields and steal potato tubers, and soon the whole plant.

And this was Friederich’s plan all along. By making the use of reverse psychology, mystery marketing, and scarcity marketing, he repositioned the way people perceived potatoes as a crop. Soon potatoes from the King’s field started disappearing, and the cultivation of potato started among the countrymen’s fields.

Consequently, Prussia escaped the famine as well as made the “ugly, muddy potatoes” the staple crop of the state.

King Friedrich II’s repositioning strategy was so concrete that even today if you were to visit King Friederich’s grave in Sanssouci today, you’d find potatoes laid over his grave.

Image source – Reddit

Pretty powerful for a repositioning strategy created in the 18th century with no channels like phones, internet, and research, right? Let’s dive deeper into the repositioning tactics used by King Friederich:

Reverse Psychology

Image Source – BrightSide

King Friederich II used reverse psychology to generate curiosity.

He asked people to grow potatoes, but they didn’t agree. So he began cultivating potatoes himself and guarded the filed to forbid peasants from entering.

By encouraging them not to enter the field, they naturally did enter the field and take his plan forward.

He used reverse psychology and convinced people toward something by doing the opposite, that is, restricting their entry.

Mystery Marketing

When Friederich II cultivated his potato field, he positioned royal guards around it so that no one could see or enter the field. This aroused questions like:

  • What is behind the guards?
  • What is being guarded by soldiers?
  • Why is a simple field being guarded by soldiers?
  • Is there something special and valuable being guarded?

Such a thought process is exactly what instilled mystery and curiosity amongst the townspeople.

Friedrich II made sure that people had just enough information – by letting people pass beside the guarded field.

But he stopped them from getting more information – by placing guards around the field.

Too much mystery would have killed the curiosity. Therefore, he made sure that the people could also get into the field at night because of negligent guards. This way he gave enough information, stopped the flow of information, and let a small channel be available to gain more information. More and more people availed of the small channel, and in the end, potato emerged as a staple crop of the area.

Scarcity Marketing

King Friederich II used scarcity marketing by displaying potatoes as scarce and valuable. He cultivated potatoes in a seemingly secretive fashion. When people were not given access to his field because of guards, the product (here, Potatoes) became more exclusive. And everyone likes exclusive products as scarcity marketing is known to work on the simple principle – ‘people value what’s scarce’.

As a result, people wanted to know more about the exclusive crop – Potatoes. They stole it. They cultivated it. And boom! – Soon everyone was eating the ugly crop.

Wrapping Up

Today potatoes have been labelled as a staple German food being used for pancakes to salads, dumplings, and what not! For this, the Germans ought to thank King Friederich II’s repositioning strategies.

Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on the first successful reposition in history in the comments section.


First hire. He wants a mega-title on his business card.

I have finally made my first “real” hire.

A young sales rep, 23-24yo, motivated, ambitious. He currently works for the largest multinational in my vertical as a business development (a sales rep with no reportees).

He will help me part-time, while keeping his 9-5.

He looks like a humble fella, yet self confident.

But he asked me if he can get the title of VP Global Sales.

I don’t know how to react. I don’t want to kill his enthusiasm because it’s going to help him work harder and stay motivated.

On the other side, it’s a 2 people startup really, he is pretty young and inexperienced, and giving him such title I’m afraid that might affect my startup credibility.

Also, what if I hire someone with greater experience on top of him some time in the future?

What would you do?

submitted by /u/maschera84
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Reflecting on my first 2 years bootstrapping!

Hi there,

In July 2018 I quit my job and tried to build a profitable SAAS with a lifelong friend of mine.

The first time we failed, hard: $ 600 MRR after 1 year.

We tried again and had a bit more luck: $ 75k ARR within 12m.

In this thread I laid down everything I wish I knew when I began.

submitted by /u/pijora
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

First deadbeat dot-brand ripped from the root ICANN has terminated a dot-brand gTLD contract for non-payment of fees for the first time. The unlucky recipient of the termination notice is aigo, a privately held Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer. ICANN first hit the company with a breach of contract notice in March 2018, noting its non-payment and a litany of other infrac…

Over 30 First Name .me domains got scooped up in June – Let’s take a look

 The Domains: I have always thought that one of the best applications for using the .me was as a personal brand with your first name .me. In June several first names expired and now we are starting to see where they are ending up. sold for $ 450 and Kate Buckley won that auction. Kate is using […] The post Over 30 First Name .me domai…

FIRST SEMI-ANNUAL COMPREHENSIVE WIPO REPORT – Part I The vast majority of UDRP cases are heard by WIPO Panelists.  As my regular readers know, every 6 months I have given a run-down of the Panelists who have been most favorable to domain investors.  However, this time, I have performed a comprehensive review of every decision published by WIPO from January 1 to June […]

Funding my first business at 17.


I'm Callum, 17 and from the UK. I'm looking to start my first business selling hangover supplements. I've setup a bank account dedicated to this startup and put £1400 in there. I'm experienced in UI/UX design and quite 'tech savvy' so I'm able to create the website, logos etc myself. I've spoke to a few manufacturers and I'm looking at around £1500 to get the first batch of capsules made. I'm sure I could find some family members who are willing to fund me some money so I can pay for this. Say I'm able to sell all of the inventory, where do I go from there and how could I get funding & investors to expand this business?

Kind regards,

submitted by /u/callumwood999
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Advices for first startup

Hello, I am a student from Azerbaijan but currently living in Italy due to my studies. And I have and idea for startup. It will be an app-based project/platform for people in Azerbaijan. I am trying to collect team, but as I am not funded right now, my team does not consist of very proffessionals. However I was able to collect them and we are going to start these days. But as an entrepreneur I do not know many things. What should I do (I mean general rules and exact steps which every entrepreneur should know), what do you suggest me as it is my first business try. Thank you all in advance

submitted by /u/alcoholic_jackass
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

First team member – how much to offer?

I've been working on developing my startup platform, and after restarting a few times due to running into UX/UI problems, I decided I needed a designer. I interviewed a few candidates, and found one that believes in the mission, is someone that I can get along with, and also has a passion for design as well as a diverse background in finance and business as well. We are both young and very early in our careers, and this product has yet to be launched (due to the roadblocks I've been facing).

I am not funded, and the candidates knew this was an equity only position when applying. I am now trying to figure out what to offer this individual. He has a diverse background and I can see him assuming other responsibilities.

Is 25%, with 5% vested after 1 month, and then 2.5% vesting every month after that fair? And since he is getting nothing for the first month, I figure I would throw in $ 500 for the first month (I know it's not much, I'm not prepared to pay too much) just so there's at least something for the first 30 days? Does this sound OK? The last thing I want to do is set the wrong tone from the start. Perhaps 35-49% is more reasonable?

submitted by /u/gflovesautomatic
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!