You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from November 7, 2012 through January 23, 2013. You can also view the most recent posts.
P&G’s “Thank You Mom” Olympic marketing program was a brilliant effort to draw on a universal human value to create a program with energy, relevance and emotion that spanned brands and countries. Plus, it’s ongoing with a life beyond one Olympic Games.
In my book Spanning Silos I noted that brand and country silos have advantages. They are close to market and product technologies, they promote accountability, and they encourage decisive decisions. But they simply don’t work in today’s environment. One reason is that brand messaging, especially as it is spread through global digital communities, is hard to confine to local markets. As a result, a brand that has different local positions can become confused. A second reason is that the necessary scale of advertising, promotions, and…
January 23, 2013 • Permalink
A charismatic brand is one that delivers self-expressive benefits to a committed, involved customer base that is enthusiastic about the brand experience. Think Apple, Harley-Davidson, REI or Tiffany & Co. It’s not an easy goal for a brand to achieve. But I see two brands making that leap: Zipcar and Tesla. Neither has been shy about their goal to change the world and define a new user experience.
Zipcar became the market leader, exemplar and spokesperson for the shared car concept. Any time of day or night, members can simply reserve cars online or by phone, choosing the model that will match their mood and task. When they arrive at the car pick up destination, the microchips in their Zipcard membership cards will signal the cars to unlock. They then drive and pay for the cars for hours or days. All this is aided by the Zipcar iPhone application. Parking, fuel and comprehensive insurance are part…
January 16, 2013 • Permalink
The brand experience, the essence of a relationship, is created by brand touchpoints. A brand touchpoint occurs any time a person in the marketplace interacts with the brand. To improve the brand experience, a firm needs to identify priority touchpoints and implement a program to improve those that are not on-brand.
Five steps are involved:
1) Identify all existing touchpoints, as well as those that should exist. Touchpoints can be under the control of the firm such through the communication programs, the public relations efforts, the customer contact points such as service and accounting staffs, sponsorships, or customer-focused programs such as the Tide Stain Detective. Touchpoints can also be external and controlled by retailers, run by third parties like the Consumers Report, or operated by a leading recipe website.
2) Provide an internal evaluation of all the touchpoints…
January 9, 2013 • Permalink
I wrote approximately 50 blog posts in 2012, but there are five that stand out in my mind as being especially provocative or informative. Herewith, my top picks from 2012, with a few runners-up thrown into the mix as well:
My post entitled CEOs Are Born, Not Made really hit a nerve. It was stimulated by Bob Lutz’s book that blamed GM’s problems on “bean counter” CEOs rather that “car guys.” I argued that unless you have inherent CEO talent, being a “car guy” will not help. You need to be born with CEO talent, and no amount of training or background experience will help. Many disagreed. Three other posts had CEO themes: one explained why Steve Jobs and Bobby Knight (the fabled basketball coach) were so successful despite being jerks,…
January 2, 2013 • Permalink
Brand executives can learn a lot from political professionals who exhibit creative brand building programs and then subject them to huge field tests. Consider the Obama campaign’s early decision to spend a good part of their budget on defining Romney. This money was expended before the conventions and some of it well before Romney wrapped up the nomination. There are a lot of reasons that Obama won the election, but many observers have hypothesized that this decision was key to the final result. The strategy was gutsy both because it took money away from the from the fall campaign and because it was uncertain that it would work.
The premise was that Romney was basing his campaign in part on the fact that the economy was in trouble, as it was, and that because of Romney’s experience at Bain he understood the private sector’s role in job creation and had experience as a problem solver. The Obama campaign’s…
December 19, 2012 • Permalink
Killing Giants is a provocative book written by Stephen Denny in which he outlines 10 strategies that have worked when small firms took on the giants in their industry - firms with marketing scale, distribution clout, buying power and strong brands. In looking at these strategies, it appeared to me that nearly all had a relevance interpretation. They were reframing a category or creating a new subcategory based on a “must have” that did not exist before, or they were affecting the visibility battle that is part of gaining relevance. Consider the following strategies:
Fight the giant where its size no longer matters. Boston Beer’s Samuel Adams brand (“not a beginner’s beer”) defined high-quality craft beer, a new subcategory in which Budweiser and the others were not relevant players.
Bring innovations to the market faster than the bureaucratic big guys. Intuit used quantitative and qualitative customer insight information…
December 12, 2012 • Permalink
Lincoln, has an incredible heritage, nearly a century old, as a premium brand. It had a long run with prestige owners and classic designs. But no longer. For several decades, Lincoln has been perceived as a boring car for very old people who are into cushy rides and waxing nostalgic.
The brand is now attempting a break-out reinvigoration to again become a top premium brand that will appeal to young buyers. The target is the BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Cadillac buyer. To take a tarnished, upscale brand that is buried in the graveyard (yes, Lincoln has brands with high recognition, but they are rarely considered a viable option) and convince buyers that it is again relevant to the premium market is the most challenging brand task imaginable. It will be fascinating to watch.
The effort rests in large part on the recently launched MKZ midsize sedan. The car looks right, with an appealing fluid design described as “smooth and soft,” an interior that is at least competitive, and…
December 5, 2012 • Permalink
Tom Aaker, a friend and relative, is a CEO with an exemplary professional style very different from that of Steve Jobs whose style I recently wrote about, and a personal lifestyle that rivals that of Richard Branson of Virgin or Larry Ellison of Oracle. The combination has worked as he has advanced at Standard Chartered, a British banking company operating mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. After successful CEO tenures in Zambia and Qatar, he moved to Indonesia three years ago, which is one of the firm’s largest operations with over 4,000 employees.
His professional style was recently captured in an interview by Sudibyo Wiradji in the Jakarta…
November 28, 2012 • Permalink
When identifying the top print advertisements and best headlines in the last century of advertising, one written in 1926 by a young copywriter named John Caples, only one year on the job, is always part of the conversation. The ad is known by its headline, “They laughed when I sat down at the piano — but when I started to play!” His assignment was to entice people to buy piano lessons by correspondence from the U.S. School of Music. As inspiration he was given a pile of advertisements that worked, another pile that didn’t,…
November 21, 2012 • Permalink
Almost all brands need energy in order to gain visibility and support key associations, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. I wrote later that one way to gain energy is with an ownable, internal branded energizer.
However, creating and owning an internal branded energizer that resonates with the target segments and energizes and enhances the target brand is difficult and expensive. It can take years to get traction at a time where action is needed in months. Indeed, it may not be feasible at all in a marketplace in which competitors have strong brands and active energizers of their own.
An alternative is the “external branded energizer, a brand that is owned by another organization. In essence, you find a brand already established with energy and attach the target brand to it. By energy, I mean some combination of exciting/interesting, involving/engaging, innovative/dynamic, and/or purpose-driven/passionate.
There is an infinite supply of brands outside your organization…
November 7, 2012 • Permalink