You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from April 24, 2013 through June 26, 2013. You can also view the most recent posts.

Velcro: How A Category Exemplar Successfully Rebranded

Velcro, from Velcro Industries, is a fascinating brand. It’s a wonderful example of a single product (hook-and-loop-fasteners) brand that created a new category and maintained control and exemplar status over that category for nearly a half century. It illustrates how even a strong brand can get tired and need a rebranding effort.

The Velcro founder story is a powerful part to the brand. It has human interest and also serves to explain the value proposition of their product. A Swiss electrical engineer, George de Mestral came home in 1941 from a hunting trip curious why burrs kept sticking to his clothes and to his dog’s fur. Under a microscope he found that they contained hundreds of “hooks.” That led to an inspiration to recreate the attachment properties of the burrs in cloth. It took nearly 20 years before he had something that was commercial, and several companies turned their back

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June 26, 2013  •  Permalink

Seven Brand-Customer Relationships that Create Loyalty

A key to building segments with high loyalty is to create brand relationships that have traction and meaning. To understand relationships, it’s useful to recall the classic work of Susan Fournier going way back to her dissertation in the mid-90s in which she used human relationship as a metaphor for brand relationships. She examined the work of psychologists who studied the nature of relationships and the characteristics of ideal relationships. Drawing in part on this body of work plus her own consumer research, she identified seven types of relationships that are important to understand and had intriguing insights into how brand-customer relationships should be conceived, measured and managed.

These dimensions provide lessons on

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June 19, 2013  •  Permalink

How to Become an Innovative Organization

Becoming an innovative firm capable of engaging in substantial and transformational innovation that will create new categories or subcategories requires an enabling organization. An innovative organization is difficult to create because it really requires three characteristics that are inconsistent with one another. The organization needs simultaneously to be “selectively opportunistic,” to have “dynamic strategic commitment” and to have an organization-wide resource allocation system.

Selective Opportunism

The organization practicing selective opportunism actively but selectively seeks to identify opportunities through insight or technology development, and then takes advantage of them. The idea is that the environment is so dynamic and uncertain that the prudent and profitable route is to detect and capture opportunities when they present themselves. Strategic

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June 12, 2013  •  Permalink

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