You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from August, 2012 (5 total). You can also view all blog posts.

Apple's Court Win Feels Good

Apple’s court win over Samsung feels good. Finally, a firm in the consumer electronics sector has stood up to those that copy substantial, transformational innovations that have resonated in the marketplace. That means that others will have the motivation to engage in “big” innovation, and the innovators will have a chance to benefit from their extraordinary advances and time to improve and leverage those advances. It just feels right.

The only way to grow is to innovate and create “must haves” that define a new category or subcategory (as documented in my book, Brand Relevance). All of that “my brand is better than your brand” marketing rarely creates real growth. The problem is that big, impactful innovations are often copied, so building barriers is necessary for success.

The ultimate…

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August 29, 2012  •  Permalink

How Burger King Is Attacking Their Relevance Problem

For over a decade, Burger King has experienced mismanagement of relevance challenge by a series of “new” owners. Menus were not suitable for large, important segments such as women, families and the health conscious. At one point it was all about the young male and their burgers, but even this group was attracted to new fries/burgers/shakes concepts with attractive personalities and/or local connections. The experience was inconsistent and at times disappointing. The advertising and the “King” symbol was ineffective and even strange even to the young male. For many in the broad market that needed to be served, Burger King was simply irrelevant.

As recounted by Jordan Melnick in QSR, CEO Steve Wilborg, who was hired in 2010, may have finally gotten it right. In April of 2012 Burger King announced a four-prong initiative to make the brand relevant to more than the young male burger crowd. In particular,…

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August 22, 2012  •  Permalink

Democrats are Losing the Framing Battle - Again

Another election, another framing battle. And once again, the Republican party seems to have the edge. Tax relief, death taxes, pro-life, small government, tax and spend. Why don’t Democrats come up with these kinds of memorable, emotive frames?

Take this election cycle’s biggest controversy: health care reform. Republicans sidelined their rivals by framing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act around “mandates” and “taxes,” and by calling it “Obamacare.” Who could possibly support “mandates” or “taxes?” And “Obamacare” certainly doesn’t provide associations with any positive elements of the act. This leaves Democrats once again playing defense. How could they let it happen again? They’re just not the best marketers.

Being able to frame the discussion by imposing a perspective that’s driven by a label is key to winning — whether it’s a divisive political argument or a tough brand battle. The linguist, George Lakoff (

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August 15, 2012  •  Permalink

Why the Chick-fil-A Brand Won't Suffer

The CEO of Chick-fil-A reportedly said on a syndicated radio show, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” The quote and other statements about gay marriage resulted in a firestorm of criticism including statements from several major city mayors saying that his firm and its opinions were not welcome. However, the belief that this controversy will hurt the company and its brand is, in my view, misguided.

The generally accepted hypothesis is that a brand should avoid controversy, because it will alienate a portion of its customer base. So the best course is to remain agnostic with respect to any controversial issues, at least visibly. Following this logic, the Chick-fil-A position was therefore at the intersection of a smaller brand mistake and a larger brand blunder with lasting implications.

This hypothesis is probably true for brands such as Coca-Cola…

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August 8, 2012  •  Permalink

Want "Big" Innovation? Centralize Innovation Budgets

Big innovation happens too rarely. This is the kind that creates real, enduring “must haves” that define new categories or subcategories and is the only path to real growth. One major reason is that the budgets are controlled by the large business units that are focused on their profitable businesses that use incremental innovation to improve the offering and/or reduce costs. Returns to such investments are predictable, and there are organizational and personal biases against risky alternatives even when the upside can more than compensate for the risk involved.

Organizations can attempt to counter those biases by creating an entrepreneurial culture, with centralized innovation budgets that take power away from the existing big business units. The entity controlling those budgets will have to encourage ideas and idea champions to surface, select those that seem most promising, and then support progress toward commercialization. The goal is to overcome the bias toward incremental…

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August 1, 2012  •  Permalink