You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from November, 2011 (4 total). You can also view all blog posts.

John Smale—P&G’s Branding CEO

John Smale who died last Saturday had a major impact on branding strategy as the CEO of P&G during the 80s when he championed the advent of category management to address brand silo issues. The vaulted brand management system of P&G, given credit for the professionalization of branding, created problems with multiple brands within a category that competed with each other with overlapping positions. Worse, the allocation of technology and resources did not follow a coherent strategy. The solution, which was a major organizational change, was to have a category manager with the authority to coordinate the brands and make allocation decisions. This was indeed a major advance in the management of brands.

Smale had other notable achievements. He convinced the American Dental Association to put its seal on Crest toothpaste, thereby creating a new subcategory and dramatically changing the competitive landscape in the dentifrice category. As Chairman of GM in the 90s he is credited with leading…

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November 22, 2011  •  Permalink

The Game Changer: The Source of Real Growth

The only way to achieve real growth is to engage in what I call brand relevance competition, using innovation to create new categories or subcategories for which competitors are irrelevant and build barriers to keep them out of the game. The alternative - fighting the brand preference battle with “my brand is better than your brands” strategy based on incremental innovation and expensive marketing - virtually never changes the marketplace. There is too much inertia. Customers simply lack the motivation to change habitual brand purchases even in the face of brilliant market programs that ask them to do just that.

In virtually every industry the only meaningful change in market share patterns occurs when one brand succeeds in changing the game by establishing a new category or subcategory. Enterprise Rent-A-car, for example, created a subcategory that focused on those needing to replace a car being repaired that did not need or want an airport-based car. Another game changer was…

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November 17, 2011  •  Permalink

Brand Relevance, or Category Innovation

I am off to Japan to introduce the Japanese translation of my book Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant. The Japanese version has a different title — Category Innovation. It’s actually a far better title, because it highlights the message of the book.

The only way to grow, with rare exceptions, is to engage in category innovation, to create a new category (or subcategory) and then manage the perceptions toward, the purchases of and loyalty toward that category. To that end, the brand should become the exemplar or representative of the category, but the focus should be on the category not on the brand. It should be “my category is better than your category” rather than “my brand is better than your brand.”

Winning is when the category is defined by “must haves” that the competitor lacks. As a result, competitors will not have the visibility and credibility…

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November 10, 2011  •  Permalink

Steve Jobs: The Ultimate Brand Relevance Champion

Under Steve Jobs, Apple developed innovations five times in a single decade that created sets of “must haves” defining new categories and subcategories. It’s the only way, with rare exceptions, to achieve growth.

There was iPod, iTunes, the Apple stores, iPhone and iPad. Incredible achievements! In my view, Jobs is the champion brand relevance competitor. I have opined elsewhere that he is, in my view, the top CEO of the last decade.

Jobs had seven skills that made these innovations possible. He had exceptional:

Insight: In each case, he relied on his gut judgment that his innovations would succeed in the marketplace. He famously did not believe in asking customers for guidance.

Timing: He went to market when the technology, the market and his firm were all ready. Competitors had prematurely released each of these innovations years earlier in some form.

Flair for design: His uncanny design sense helped make each of these…

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November 2, 2011  •  Permalink