You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from February 13, 2013 through April 17, 2013. You can also view the most recent posts.

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

Why Brand Leaders in Japan are Winning

BrandJapan is an annual appraisal of the brand equity of one thousand Japanese brands from the view of consumers (BtoC) and business managers (BtoB). Each year I provide a commentary on the results. The 2013 data just became available, and it again provides insights into what drives winning brands in Japan.

In the consumer database (BtoC), the big news is that Apple, who had advanced from 11 to number one in 2012 is not only still number one but has created a significant gap over Google, which remains at number two. The iPod and iPad brands have fallen from the top 20 but are still top forty brands, and iPhone has moved to number 18 meaning that Apple has four of the top 40 brands. Furthermore, Apple’s lead on the innovation factor over Google is now huge (132 vs. 108). The seven Apple stores and the elegant success of the iPhone helped the Apple brand achieve a leadership position.


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March 27, 2013  •  Permalink

Can Delta Own Sleep with its Branded Differentiator?

The only path to brand and business success is to develop and own an offering feature or service that is judged to be a “must have” by a significant customer group. Competitors lose by being irrelevant. Delta Airlines, who operate in an arena in which differentiation is difficult, is attempting to do just that.

Delta is trying to create and own a new subcategory, namely, airlines that offer superior sleeping experiences for upper-class passengers. They identified sleep as the most important in-flight experience, which means that is an important consideration for a worthwhile customer group. Then they developed a comprehensive program to deliver. In includes a white noise channel on the in-flight radio, full flat-bed seats and a special “Westin Heavenly” comforter and

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March 20, 2013  •  Permalink

Brand Building in the Mobile World: Find the Right App

The newest and fastest growing brand building communication channel is no doubt mobile marketing. And the initial instinct is to buy ads reach the mobile user. But that’s a problem, since ads are becoming more and more challenging to notice, especially considering the limitation of smaller screen sizes. The solution? Sponsor an app or become embedded and involved in the app’s functionality.

Mobile users typically download many apps, but use only 15 or so regularly. So how do you get into the top 15? You have to have an app that users are motivated to download and use. In an article Sunil Gupta wrote for HBR, he describes five app strategies that can get your brand in the sweet 15 and either cement an existing customer relationship or create a new one.

His strategies correspond with basic

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March 13, 2013  •  Permalink

Why CMOs Fail, and Why They Don’t Have To

The average tenure of a new CMO, according to one study, is less than 24 months. And in a recent study, 60% of respondents thought that this failure was not due to the CMO’s failures but to the fact that the company was not as open to change as they thought. CMOs are hired to drive a change agenda, but just can’t get enough support.

My take is a bit more nuanced. Most organizations do inhibit change and thwart CMO objectives. But how, and why? I believe the power of the product and sometimes the country or functional silo units are the primary impediments. Nearly every organization is decentralized with silo units that have budget and strategy power. One rationale is that such power provides accountability and close-to-the-market decision making. To

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March 6, 2013  •  Permalink

Should Your Brand Unsell its Product?

If a firm believes that one of its products is bad for its customers or bad for the environment, what should it do? If the product is contributing to youth obesity, to alcoholism, or to energy waste, is there a responsibility to “unsell” that product in order to get people to use it less?

A firm can make product or program decisions that will be a win-win. The Marks & Spencer “Shwopping” program gives customers a voucher for every M&S item they bring in to recycle, enhancing both sales and image. Both diet sodas and reduced fat ice creams are examples of products that don’t hurt taste, but have provided their brands with a healthy business while addressing a societal problem. McDonald’s “healthy” menu items have shown a profitable direction for the brand. But what about decisions that risk damaging the brand or business? Are such risks ever warranted?

Assume that a snack and

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February 27, 2013  •  Permalink

Points of Parity

Most brand strategists focus on developing points of difference that will give consumers good reasons to prefer their brand. The key to winning is assumed to be differentiation.

However, if there is a key “must have” dimension on which your brand is perceived to inadequately deliver, your brand will not be considered. You will not be a player, which means you have no chance of winning - no matter how compelling your point of differentiation is. It will not compensate for a fatal liability.

The solution? Change that liability into a point of parity (POP). In other words, change that liability so that on that dimension the brand is “good enough” to no longer exclude it from the conversation. The point of parity concept provides another perspective on how to make or keep a brand relevant. In this post, I’ll discus two different points of parity you should consider experimenting with.

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February 20, 2013  •  Permalink

Panera Bread: A Brand Winner

Panera Bread dominates the bakery/café category. It owns over 60% of the market share, with sales over three billion dollars obtained from over 1,500 units. And just in the last five years Panera Bread has increased its earnings per share by over 24% each year. In 2010, Fortune magazine named it as one of the 100 fastest-growing companies. Operating under the names Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Company and Paradise Bakery & Café, its excellence performance has been recognized in several other ways. For example, it had the highest level of customer loyalty among quick-casual restaurants according to a 2012 TNS Interesearch survey and was named Casual Dining Brand of the Year in a 2012 Harris EquiTrend Poll.

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February 13, 2013  •  Permalink