You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from April 3, 2013 through June 5, 2013. You can also view the most recent posts.

Creating New Subcategories is the Path to Real Growth: More Data

In my book, Brand Relevance I argue that the only path to real growth, with rare exceptions, is to engage in transformational or substantial innovation that creates “must haves” that define new subcategories (or categories). In virtually any product arena that you examine over a long period of time, from water to banking to computers, any growth spurt, (again, with rare exceptions) can be associated with such an innovation. For example, in the Japanese beer market the market share trajectories changed only four times in over 40 years. In three of those instances new subcategories were formed, and in the fourth two subcategories were repositioned.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Eddie Yoon

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June 5, 2013  •  Permalink

Is Your Marketing Team Tough Enough? Lessons from Basketball

Top athletic teams create exceptional levels of performance of people and teams. They aspire to move beyond competence to excellence. Their concepts and methods provide lessons to those that would build excellence in marketing teams. In that spirit, I was attracted to the new book entitled Toughness: Developing True Strength on and off the Court by Jay Bilas. Jay was a top level basketball player for four years under fabled Coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, played professional ball in Italy and is now an ESPN basketball analyst. He explores the value of toughness in a basketball player and team, a quality much admired in the sports world. His observations contain some familiar and some less-familiar admonitions, but his “toughness” perspective provides insights into how to achieve

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May 29, 2013  •  Permalink

Pampers Reframes Disposable Diapers In China

P&G’s Pampers completely reframed the diaper category in China, and in doing so created enormous growth for the category and for the brand. It is a good example of how focusing on category competition is a better route to growth than trying to win the “my brand is better than your brand” battle. The story is fascinating and informative, not only with respect to framing a category but to entering a new country with a different culture.

Pampers entered the China market in 1998 with a strategy of making a cheaper version of their Western product. The result was indeed cheap, and also was of inferior quality. The product was perceived as plastic and irritating, and it didn’t go anywhere. In 2006 a revised product, called the Pampers Cloth Like & Dry, was soft, effective and half the cost of U.S. versions. But still, sales lagged. The problem was that Chinese consumers were not motivated by

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May 22, 2013  •  Permalink

Red Bull: The Ultimate Brand Builder

A pioneer in energy drinks three decades ago, Red Bull is now the world sales leader with estimated 2012 fiscal sales of over $3 billion, profits over $400 million, and a 43% leading US dollar market. To establish a new category in the face of Coke and Pepsi and then hold it for decades is very impressive.

Four quick observations about Red Bull’s unique approach to brand building:

  • Red Bull’s brand building is largely based on associating its brand with an amazingly wide range of people, teams and events.
  • Red Bull believes in owning teams and events rather than being one of several sponsors.
  • Because of this ownership model, they can and have turned this buzz machine into a profit center.
  • Their on-brand activities reflect two very different personalities that live side by side.

The scope of Red Bull activities is overwhelming.

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May 15, 2013  •  Permalink

Higher Purpose Branding: 14 Brands Are Doing It Right

Since I began this blog, about 10% of my posts have highlighted a brand whose branding and marketing programs have been, in my eyes, impressive. These dozen or so cases, most of which have demonstrable business success as well, all have something in common. They all have a higher purpose. Some have several. They offer a basis for a customer relationship that goes beyond functional benefits to generate self-expressive, emotional or social benefits. They all rise above the “my-brand-is-better-than-your-brand” competition and the noise that goes with it.

Consider the higher purpose of the following brands that were all the subject of a blog post:

Dove: Achieving real beauty, building self-esteem

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May 8, 2013  •  Permalink

Dove: The Most Impressive Brand Builder in the Last 15 Years?

What are the most impressive brand building efforts in last 15 years? In constructing such a list, it would be hard to leave out Dove. A $200 million soap brand in the early 1990s has grown into a brand that has been estimated to be nearly $4 billion dollars today. They play in an intensively competitive arena with large, smart and established competitors. And in my view, the Dove brand building effort played a big role in their success story.

Have you seen the latest from the Dove ongoing “Campaign for Real Beauty” that originated in Brazil and was done by Ogilvy & Mather in 2004? A forensic sketch artist draws several women, first based only on their descriptions of themselves (he does not actually see them) and then based on the descriptions of a stranger who has observed the women. The subject, seeing the resulting

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May 1, 2013  •  Permalink

Three Threats to Brand Relevance: Strategies That Work

My newest book, Three Threats to Brand Relevance is out this week in e-book form. It’s a shorter form book, and can be viewed as a supplement to my book released last year, Brand Relevance.

Brand Relevance explains that the only way to grow is to develop “must haves” through big innovation that will render competitors irrelevant. It is the path to winning. This new book shows the path to avoid losing. As markets become dynamic, there is a real risk that your brand will become irrelevant. The book explains the three threats to look out for and how to avoid them or deal with them.

The first risk is that you might be marketing an offering that an important and growing segment is no

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April 24, 2013  •  Permalink

What Should Your Brand Personality Be?

My last blog post, “Three Models of How a Brand Personality Impacts,” discussed three ways in which a brand personality can impact customers and the marketplace. And its reception, measured by views and comments, indicated that brand personality is a highly sought after and intriguing concept. Many recognized brand personality as a key brand vision lever for brands that are facing dynamic markets and a fragmented media presence. A brand personality can be a crucially important driver of self-expressive benefits, brand-customer relationships and the communication of functional benefits.

If a brand strategist wants to explore the potential of creating or enhancing a brand personality, then they have to address one basic question. What should my brand personality

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April 17, 2013  •  Permalink

Three Models of How a Brand Personality Impacts

What is the worst thing you can say about a person? That they have no personality. Who wants to spend time with someone who is so boring that they are described as having no personality? It’s better to be a jerk; at least you will be interesting. Having a personality is equally helpful to brands.

Not all brands have a personality, or at least don’t have a strong, distinctive personality. Those that do have a significant advantage in terms of standing out from the crowd, having a message and supporting a relationship with customers. Personality is an important dimension of brand equity because, like human personality, it is both differentiating and enduring. Once established it will provide benefits (or harm) over a long time horizon. Creating or supporting a personality should be part of the brand vision discussion.

The power of brand personality can be seen by conceptualizing three

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April 10, 2013  •  Permalink

Look Who Sold Five Million Recipe Books in Japan: The Higher Purpose Pays Off

A small Japanese company that makes bathroom scales has under 100 million dollars in sales generated by less than 300 people. But they put out a recipe book in 2010 that has sold around five million copies and created a new growth platform. Their story, which depicts how a higher purpose can work, is instructive.

Tanita makes and markets accurate, durable, user-friendly professional and personal scales for measuring health related characteristics such as weight, body fat and body water. Based in part on some patented, breakthrough measurement technology developed in 1992 and branded as “bioelectrical impedance analysis,” Tanita has 50 percent market share in Japan, where it is a household brand for scales, and it is a leader in the global market as well.

With healthy living as a heritage value, Tanita developed a company cafeteria that featured a healthy yet tasty menu at a time in which

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April 3, 2013  •  Permalink