You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from October 25, 2012 through January 9, 2013. You can also view the most recent posts.

Five Steps to Getting Brand Touchpoints Right

The brand experience, the essence of a relationship, is created by brand touchpoints. A brand touchpoint occurs any time a person in the marketplace interacts with the brand. To improve the brand experience, a firm needs to identify priority touchpoints and implement a program to improve those that are not on-brand.

Five steps are involved:

1) Identify all existing touchpoints, as well as those that should exist. Touchpoints can be under the control of the firm such through the communication programs, the public relations efforts, the customer contact points such as service and accounting staffs, sponsorships, or customer-focused programs such as the Tide Stain Detective. Touchpoints can also be external and controlled by retailers, run by third parties like the Consumers Report, or operated by a leading recipe website.

2) Provide an internal evaluation of all the touchpoints

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January 9, 2013  •  Permalink

A Glance Back at 2012: The Best of Aaker on Brands

I wrote approximately 50 blog posts in 2012, but there are five that stand out in my mind as being especially provocative or informative. Herewith, my top picks from 2012, with a few runners-up thrown into the mix as well:

My post entitled CEOs Are Born, Not Made really hit a nerve. It was stimulated by Bob Lutz’s book that blamed GM’s problems on “bean counter” CEOs rather that “car guys.” I argued that unless you have inherent CEO talent, being a “car guy” will not help. You need to be born with CEO talent, and no amount of training or background experience will help. Many disagreed. Three other posts had CEO themes: one explained why Steve Jobs and Bobby Knight (the fabled basketball coach) were so successful despite being jerks,…

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January 2, 2013  •  Permalink

Framing Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election

Brand executives can learn a lot from political professionals who exhibit creative brand building programs and then subject them to huge field tests. Consider the Obama campaign’s early decision to spend a good part of their budget on defining Romney. This money was expended before the conventions and some of it well before Romney wrapped up the nomination. There are a lot of reasons that Obama won the election, but many observers have hypothesized that this decision was key to the final result. The strategy was gutsy both because it took money away from the from the fall campaign and because it was uncertain that it would work.

The premise was that Romney was basing his campaign in part on the fact that the economy was in trouble, as it was, and that because of Romney’s experience at Bain he understood the private sector’s role in job creation and had experience as a problem solver. The Obama campaign’s

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December 19, 2012  •  Permalink

Killing Giants: A Relevance Interpretation

Killing Giants is a provocative book written by Stephen Denny in which he outlines 10 strategies that have worked when small firms took on the giants in their industry - firms with marketing scale, distribution clout, buying power and strong brands. In looking at these strategies, it appeared to me that nearly all had a relevance interpretation. They were reframing a category or creating a new subcategory based on a “must have” that did not exist before, or they were affecting the visibility battle that is part of gaining relevance. Consider the following strategies:

Thin Ice

Fight the giant where its size no longer matters. Boston Beer’s Samuel Adams brand (“not a beginner’s beer”) defined high-quality craft beer, a new subcategory in which Budweiser and the others were not relevant players.


Bring innovations to the market faster than the bureaucratic big guys. Intuit used quantitative and qualitative customer insight information…

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December 12, 2012  •  Permalink

Lincoln Attempts to "Reinvent the Wheel"

Lincoln, has an incredible heritage, nearly a century old, as a premium brand. It had a long run with prestige owners and classic designs. But no longer. For several decades, Lincoln has been perceived as a boring car for very old people who are into cushy rides and waxing nostalgic.

The brand is now attempting a break-out reinvigoration to again become a top premium brand that will appeal to young buyers. The target is the BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Cadillac buyer. To take a tarnished, upscale brand that is buried in the graveyard (yes, Lincoln has brands with high recognition, but they are rarely considered a viable option) and convince buyers that it is again relevant to the premium market is the most challenging brand task imaginable. It will be fascinating to watch.

The effort rests in large part on the recently launched MKZ midsize sedan. The car looks right, with an appealing fluid design described as “smooth and soft,” an interior that is at least competitive, and…

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December 5, 2012  •  Permalink

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 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