You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from June 6, 2012 through August 8, 2012. You can also view the most recent posts.
The CEO of Chick-fil-A reportedly said on a syndicated radio show, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” The quote and other statements about gay marriage resulted in a firestorm of criticism including statements from several major city mayors saying that his firm and its opinions were not welcome. However, the belief that this controversy will hurt the company and its brand is, in my view, misguided.
The generally accepted hypothesis is that a brand should avoid controversy, because it will alienate a portion of its customer base. So the best course is to remain agnostic with respect to any controversial issues, at least visibly. Following this logic, the Chick-fil-A position was therefore at the intersection of a smaller brand mistake and a larger brand blunder with lasting implications.
This hypothesis is probably true for brands such as Coca-Cola…
August 8, 2012 • Permalink
Big innovation happens too rarely. This is the kind that creates real, enduring “must haves” that define new categories or subcategories and is the only path to real growth. One major reason is that the budgets are controlled by the large business units that are focused on their profitable businesses that use incremental innovation to improve the offering and/or reduce costs. Returns to such investments are predictable, and there are organizational and personal biases against risky alternatives even when the upside can more than compensate for the risk involved.
Organizations can attempt to counter those biases by creating an entrepreneurial culture, with centralized innovation budgets that take power away from the existing big business units. The entity controlling those budgets will have to encourage ideas and idea champions to surface, select those that seem most promising, and then support progress toward commercialization. The goal is to overcome the bias toward incremental…
August 1, 2012 • Permalink
The human library has its roots in the city library of Malmo, Sweden, which allows curious visitors to check out living people for a 45-minute conversation. The experience is designed to confront prejudices and promote understanding. The people available to be “checked out” included a gypsy, a transvestite, a blind man, a journalist and an animal rights activist, and the conversation allows people to learn about the life and beliefs of an individual that had been misunderstood, stereotyped and often avoided.
Prophet’s version of a human library is designed to provide inspiration to a team that wants to develop a big innovation, improve an offering or user experience, enhance a brand relationship, or improve a sales or marketing program. With context and objective in place, a wide array of human “books” that are relevant but tangential to the context are purposefully selected to create unexpected sources of insight.
An apparel manufacturer found that its multi-product…
July 25, 2012 • Permalink
A serious threat facing most brands in dynamic markets is the loss of relevance because the category or subcategory they are serving is declining. Customers are no longer buying what the brand is perceived to make. New categories or subcategories emerge as competitors' innovations create "must haves." This dynamic can happen even if the brand is strong; customers are loyal; and the offering has never been better, thanks to incremental innovations.
Relevance dominates. If a group of customers wants a battery powered car it does not matter how much they love your hybrid brand. It will not be relevant. A newspaper can have the best new coverage and editorial staff, but if readers are diverted to cable news or blogs, relevance will decline. The ultimate tragedy is to achieve brilliant differentiation, winning the preference battle, only to have that effort wasted as its relevance declines.
How does a brand stay relevant? How can a brand avoid the disinvest or milking decision? There…
July 18, 2012 • Permalink
When I am asked for guidance on a brand or marketing problem, I usually respond that I know a method that is “guaranteed” to work: Find an organization that has successfully addressed a similar problem, and adapt what they did. Don’t limit the search to those organizations that look like your own, but be willing to look more broadly.
The NFL has a serious attendance problem due to the incredible experience provided by home television coverage, the high cost of tickets, the hassle of going to the event and the event experience. There is not only a risk to an important income source, but also to the experience. Playing to half-empty stadiums with passive crowds would affect the on-site and the viewing experience.
My view is that the NFL needs to look to role models. Consider the NASCAR experience,…
July 11, 2012 • Permalink
When I was in China several years ago, I felt that the firms there would eventually become leading global players. And now it’s happening, and a new book, The New Emerging Marketing Multinationals by Amitava Chattopadhyay and Rajeev Batra (with Aysegul Ozsomer) explains how. The authors report a study of some 39 firms that have made a move toward global prominence.
There are four strategies that have been employed by EMNCs (emerging multinational corporations).
The first: Acting as a cost leader by leveraging local low-cost human resources to provide low-end products, often starting with private-label brands that gain volume sales in their home market and in other assessable markets as well.
The second: The knowledge leverage-er who draws upon specialized knowledge of customer needs when the conditions are privative and the income is low. The…
July 3, 2012 • Permalink
Based on widespread Internet adoption, software enabling social interaction, ubiquitous camera access and mobile connections, Web 2.0 has changed qualitative research. Research is no longer limited by time and location. It can now access experiences as they happen, where they happen. Respondents can be global and engaged with each other. Spontaneous interactions and moments of self-discovery can be stimulated. And it is more cost-effective and much faster than focus groups, ethnographies or in-depth interviews.
No, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Marketers need to understand the new world as occupied by firms like Revelation (Visit their website here, where most of this information originally came from).
- Assume that you are interested in wine experiences. Respondents can keep a journal and show through video or image the context of their wine experience and their observations
June 27, 2012 • Permalink
A home run brand building program? Purina Cat Chow is inviting customers to recount a cat relationship story. Each of the top five out of 50 winners will receive $5,000, a year’s worth of pet food, and exposure of their story on Purina’s social media sites. The stories need to fit one of seven themes:
- My first cat
- Why I’m a cat person
- Forever a cat family
- How we found each other
- Generations of care
- Always there for me
I like the idea. In my view, this promotion has the potential to break out of the clutter, harness storytelling (the current hot brand-building vehicle), be the basis for intensifying a brand relationship, and create a viral video.
Cat owners, in general, have an emotional attachment to their pet, and pet food is far from a functional item. The relationship and what surrounds it can best be captured in a personal story that has…
June 20, 2012 • Permalink
For the last six years, Disney has engaged in a remarkable and gutsy program to improve the nutritional knowledge and choices for kids. Without question, Disney’s leadership and actions appealed to a growing segment, enhanced their brand and made a difference concerning an important social issue. Yet, the decisions behind the program could not have been easy, as there was significant cost and risk involved. How much weight should a firm place on addressing social issues? How much financial risk and sacrifice should be accepted in order to do the “right” thing?
In 2004, Disney made the dramatic decision to establish nutrition guidelines that they leveraged in a variety of ways. In 2007, they phased out all trans fats in their parks and continued a policy of upgrading the healthiness of their park menus. In 2010, they launched the Disney Magic of Healthy Living consumer campaign, complete with a website that encouraged kids to eat right and exercise. In 2011, we saw the TRYit…
June 13, 2012 • Permalink
There is often a business case to stretch a brand into an area that it just does not fit, even when shielded by a subbrand or as an endorser. The answer can be a shadow endorser.
BMW is a shadow endorser of the MINI Cooper. A shadow endorser brand is not connected visibly to the endorsed brand, but most consumers or potential customers know about the link or can be informed about it prior to purchase. It's in the shadows. The fact that the brands are not visibly linked makes a statement about each brand. It communicates that the organization realizes that the shadow-endorsed brand represents a totally different product and market segment than other offerings connected to the endorser.
A shadow endorser can protect the endorser brand while still providing the reassurance that an endorsement provides. Every buyer of a MINI Cooper knows that it is made by BMW and will have the same quality and innovation…
June 6, 2012 • Permalink