20 Quotes on Category Building to Sharpen your Messaging Strategy

The concept of category building enables organizations to differentiate themselves and redefine market landscapes, while opening creative and thoughtful conversations internally.

Startup founders, business executives, and marketing gurus face an important question at some point in their careers: Are you trying to define (and own) a new or existing market category? The answer to this question will inevitably transform the way you communicate with external and internal stakeholders.

To dive deeper into the purpose of category building, 20 quotes are listed below from some of the leading minds in business and marketing.

For the sake of sharpening your company’s messaging and business strategy, the goal is to help people think differently about the approaches to category building and if it is right for you.


  1. “Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.”Al Ries and Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
  2. “When do I say yes to CEOs who contact me about creating a category name? When I get the feeling they’re less obsessed with the name, and more focused on bringing it to life. That is, when they‘re ready to do the real work of crafting, and then telling — through every action their company takes — a new story about their customer’s world.” Andy Raskin, Strategic Narrative.
  3. “Want to build a category? Get ready for a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t just throw a category term into a market and expect it to stick. The reality is that you have to dig in and commit through continuous, consistent messaging, as well as focus ongoing effort on the PR, industry analyst and content marketing fronts.” – Guy Murrel, Catapult PR-IR.
  4. “…on this journey to category creation, research is your friend. If you are the leader in a completely new category with no customer case studies to showcase, it’s hard to rely on data that isn’t specifically curated to your target audience or key stakeholders.” – Sarah Goodman, Finn Partners.
  5. “The decision to join an existing category, or to launch a new brand category is not an easy decision. Evaluating your product maturity, the product roadmap, and overall market maturity is critical.”Tracy Lloyd, Emotive Brand.
  6. “The company story is the company strategy.” – Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz.
  7. “The reason why ‘Inbound Marketing’ worked so well for Hubspot is it represented a methodology. It’s not just a term created for the sake of it. It’s an idea wrapped around a bunch of easy-to-understand behaviors that help marketers adopt a new set of strategies. Not only can they rely on inbound marketing to do their jobs better, but they could also identify with it.”Mike Adams, Grain.
  8. “Do you spend aggressively to create the category or conserve capital, knowing education will take time? Parsimony is prudence. New categories form at unpredictable rates because each market has distinct nuances. But is frugality a winning strategy in any of those spaces? In this fundraising environment, I’ll argue probably not.” – Tomasz Tunguz, Venture Capitalist at Theory.
  9. “Creating educational content is not just important from the perspective of thought leadership, but it is also necessary for category building. If you are bringing an innovative product or service to the market, it is likely that most of your potential clients will be totally unaware of it.”Anindita Gupta, Agency Reporter.
  10. “[On working with PR agencies] The notion of collaboration is relatively well understood, yet, some people still don’t embrace it. Countless times, we’ve been on the receiving end of this equation. A company hires us to help them achieve a major initiative, such as helping them craft an industry category or provide ongoing PR services to build awareness or thought leadership. But, the more your agency knows, has context and understanding around what the company is trying to achieve, the better job it will do. Collaboration is the underpinning to getting the most out of what you are investing in your agency.”Terri Douglas, Catapult PR-IR
  11. “The bar to bring a product to market is getting lower and lower. So sort of leading with product IP as the differentiator for the business is a challenge. And so any company in new markets or maybe operating in crowded spaces and are seeking to break out, really could benefit from building brand IP.” – Anthony Kennada, Category Creation.
  12. “A well-formed market category surrounds a need/problem and defines it with remarkable (and comforting) lucidity. That clarity inherently drives demand. When something or someone defines our problem better than we have seen it defined before, or uncovers an existing problem that we never fully saw or understood, our natural inclination is to want to solve that problem — and our assumption is that the one who best defined the problem must hold the best solution. That assumption is an incredibly powerful market force.” – John Farkas, Golden Spiral.
  13. “Remember the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats”? Find friendly competition who can help you build your category. Most startups don’t have tons of resources to pour into these marketing efforts for category creation. Look for other early-stage companies that are launching within your emerging category. Partner together, and then race to build best-in-class products and services for your industry.” – Sangram Vajre, Terminus. 
  14. “I always think in some ways, the better framing is you want to be the last mover. You want to be the last company in a category.”Peter Thiel, Founders Fund.
  15. “What do they [customers] know about your company? How do they associate your products and services and your brand personality? What terms do you own in their mind? Do they think you’re the cheapest? Do they think you’re the best? Hopefully something more unique than that, but you really want to own whatever that category is in their mind. That’s a measure of how much brand awareness you’ve actually built up in your category.”Thad Ankenman, TANK New Media. 
  16. “Thought leadership lays the groundwork for owning your category, which should be a goal of every B2B tech startup. But it’s critical to keep thought leadership logically separated from your prospect-oriented activities.” Jordan Elkind, Blue Seedling.
  17. “Strategic technical storytelling, category building, and having strong teams are the three essential pillars for hyper-growth.”Gary Sevounts, Socure. 
  18. “It’s no secret that category building has become a popular positioning and marketing strategy during the past few years. Companies that lead categories have an envious position. They clearly stand out, are more attractive to customers, are loved by media and analyst influencers, and, at the highest level, have the highest market valuation. There are three reasons why your company should take the plunge into category development and building: It forces you to aim higher, it helps define your company’s North Star, and it’s an alignment function for your organization.”Guy Murrel, Catapult PR-IR.
  19. “It’s not just about categorizing the things you sell or do. As it turns out, categories are most helpful when you’re trying to come up with a business idea; you want to get clear on the problem you’re solving before anything else. Otherwise, you’ll be wandering in the dark with a product that no one wants.” Dave Fink, Postie.
  20. “Choose a desire relevant to their [customer’s] survival…nobody will listen to you if your message isn’t clear, no matter how expensive your marketing material may be.” Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand. 


For more reading on three realistic reasons to focus on category building, visit: https://www.catapultpr-ir.com/three-realistic-reasons-to-focus-on-category-building/

Or, are you actively thinking about your company’s narrative and want an independent perspective? Strategic messaging experts will assess your company against your top category competitors for free. Take 60 seconds now to get started >>>


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