You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from September 19, 2012 through November 28, 2012. You can also view the most recent posts.

A CEO Style to Admire

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

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November 28, 2012  •  Permalink

“They laughed when I sat down at the piano — but when I started to play!”

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,…

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November 21, 2012  •  Permalink

How to Find External Brand Energizers

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…

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November 7, 2012  •  Permalink

Create an Ownable Branded Energizer

Most brands need more energy to provide the visibility needed to be considered and also to support perceptions and attitudes (See post Oct. 26 http://ow.ly/eTTEa). How do you energize a brand especially when the brand has no newsworthy innovations on hand or when there is little interest not only in the brand but in the product category as well. It can be a tough assignment. The solution might be to create an ownable, internal branded energizer which is not part of the offering per se, which has energy and use that “branded energizer” to energize the target brand or subbrand.

An ownable branded energizer is a branded product, promotion, sponsorship, symbol, program, or other entity that by association significantly enhances and energizes a target brand and is developed and owned by the organization.

Some examples. The Avon Walk for breast Cancer provides energy to the cosmetics firm that could not be obtained through the offering. The Oscar Myer Weinermoble the…

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October 31, 2012  •  Permalink

Your Brand Needs Energy!

Unless your brand is one of the exceptions, it needs energy!

A brand that has insufficient energy has two potential liabilities. First, it will lack visibility and it will no longer be amongst those that come to mind when considering a purchase. It will be lost in the noise of the environment and no longer be relevant. Second, and perhaps worse, it will see declines in key image items such as perceived quality and trust and, in addition, have its ability to drive differentiation and loyalty degraded. There is disturbing evidence to back up these assertions.

The Y&R Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) database includes more than 38,000 brands measured on over 75 metrics for over more than 40 countries, from 1993 to the present. The Brand Bubble by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar reports findings from the BAV database that show brand equities (measured by trustworthiness, esteem, perceived quality and awareness) have been falling sharply over the years. For example, over the span of 12…

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October 25, 2012  •  Permalink

Crayola: How One Brand Revitalized a Vison

Crayola is a legacy brand that has universal awareness that one associates with making colorful drawings as a child. The 64-count box of crayons represents for many the emotional symbol of what was great about childhood. The century old firm had challenges brought on in part by the advent of electronic competitors for a time, from television to gaming and in part by simple demographics. Crayola was in need of a refresh of their vision, offerings, and culture.

In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Brand Strategy, Crayola CMO Victoria Lozano speaks about how this was accomplished. The process started with the assembly of a team of influential people with conceptual skills that represented different functions and levels within the company, plus an additional few people from outside the firm. With outside consultants facilitating, they spent 20% of their time for four months developing a brand identity for Crayola and determining what the brand should stand for both internally and…

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October 17, 2012  •  Permalink

Innovation on a New Level: The HUB Prize 2012 for Retail Experience Excellence

I serve as one of the judges for The HUB Prize 2012, presented by The Hub Magazine. As such, I got a preview of the winner for excellence in the retail experience. First place went to a New Delhi flagship store for Asian Paints, the third largest paint firm in India. It took retail innovation to a new level.

The concept started with the insight, garnered in part from in-home interviews, that consumers were not comfortable with color experimentation in their homes. They found paint a confusing category and were even intimidated by the idea of choosing colors.

The solution was a retail store that provides personalized color solutions within a magical in-store experience. It begins at the store entrance, where consumers step on footstones of different colors to activate a play of light and color that involves a huge chandelier and the external façade signage. This warm-up gets the consumer into color experimentation, shows how color affects space and the displays impact of light…

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October 10, 2012  •  Permalink

The Toughest Brand Challenge: Extending into a Value Arena

Moving a brand into a value arena has exceptional risks not found in other brand extension contexts. But the decision is often based on business logic driven by the attractiveness of the value market and the ability of the firm to compete. As part of that business decision and its implementation, brand strategists should be able to identify the specific business rationale and the risks of the available brand options. .

A value market may be compelling for a premium brand faced with maturing markets that exhibit perceived product sameness. The value subcategory may exhibit growth and vitality as customers become more price sensitive, as value retailers like Target, Home Depot, and Office Depot become more important, or as some innovations like the Crest Spinbrush make a value offering more relevant. Further, there may be competitors in this space that are getting a foothold and have the potential to encroach on the mainstream markets. It can be strategically important to blunt their…

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October 3, 2012  •  Permalink

The Melt: A Fast Food Brand that Connects

Restaurants are interesting to me, particularly because there is frequent innovation-based differentiation driving emerging subcategories and strong brands with a lot of energy. In restaurants, there are a lot of levers to pull and there are significant customer engagement possibilities. A lot can be learned from restaurant brands that are hitting a home run.

A fast food brand located in San Francisco, The Melt, caught my eye because it not only has a differentiated offering but also has the opportunity to connect with customers in different ways.

The Melt has a simple menu that harkens back to the days of grandma’s fixing lunches of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. There are five kinds of cheese, each with a matched bread, five soups, interesting drinks such as Izze Sparking Pomegranate, five desserts including a Chocolate Marshmallow S-more’s Melt, and a breakfast menu that includes Steel Cut Maple Raisin Oatmeal and Banana Maple Waffles. It is the only restaurant…

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September 26, 2012  •  Permalink

Democrats Finally Get a Framing Win with "Vouchercare"

Democrats always seem to lose the all-important discussion framing battle. But with “vouchercare,” they’ve finally won one.

“Vouchercare” describes the republican approach to the reform of Medicare. It frames the discussion around the concept that a fixed price voucher will be given to retired people who must then accept the risk that the insurance industry might price coverage higher than the voucher or, worse, will not insure them at all. It frames the discussion making “vouchers” front and center. Republicans must defend the vouchers instead of discussing the limitations that their approach is intended to address.

The label “vouchercare” has (ironically) been defined by republicans, which makes their effort to reframe harder. The concept “care” as in “Obamacare” implies the essence of a medical insurance program. And “vouchers” are defined by the long-term republican position on education reform. The basic idea is that if parents are given vouchers…

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September 19, 2012  •  Permalink