Branding a New Offering: The Brand Relationship Spectrum

When managing a brand portfolio, a basic strategic decision should be made to determine how to brand new offerings and how these offerings will fit into or augment the existing brand portfolio. A key tool in making this decision is the brand relationship spectrum. The brand relationship spectrum includes a master brand with descriptors (GE Healthcare), a master brand with sub-brands (Calloway Big Bertha), a new brand endorsed by a master brand (Miracle by Lancôme) and a new brand (Lexus).

The Master Brand Strategy

The preferred go-to strategy, often termed the master brand or branded house strategy, is to use the master brand with a descriptor on the new offering. The descriptor brand will have a very modest or nonexistent

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July 27, 2016  •  Permalink

When “Just as Good” is Better for Brands

Many brand strategists’ strive to develop points of differentiation that drive brand preference among consumers. The key to winning is assumed to be differentiation; however, your brand won’t even be considered if it’s considered to inadequately deliver on a key must have dimension. You will not be a player - which means you have no chance of winning - no matter how compelling your point of differentiation is.

The solution is the point-of-parity concept, which was introduced to the branding world in Kevin Keller’s book, “The Principle of Positioning.” It’s defined:

Points-of-Parity (POPs): Associations that are not necessarily unique to the

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July 21, 2016  •  Permalink

The Not-Only-for Profit KIND


How KIND is delivering on its higher brand purpose

KIND is a snack line that has grown from nothing in 2004 to over $550 million in 2015. Besides their remarkable success, I love the KIND brand for three reasons:

  1. The signature story of the founder Daniel Lubetzky creates the logic and motivation for the KIND brand.
  1. The higher brand purpose of delivering healthy, tasty snacks has defined a whole new subcategory, and KIND has found a way to communicate and deliver on the promise.
  1. The

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June 29, 2016  •  Permalink

Pepsi Introduces an Internal Content Agency

In a digital world, brands like Pepsi bring content production in-house to more efficiently and effectively develop content.

Pepsi has announced the creation of a content agency/studio in Manhattan called “Creators League” that will service the Pepsi organization by curating and producing real-time content. It will start with 10 to 15 full-time employees and build from there, eventually doing work for clients outside of Pepsi as well.

Pepsi is just one of many firms that are moving in this direction, as they recognize digital content is king; but content production needs to be enabled in a convenient, fast, and economical way. Such a trend is significant to those wanting to be players in the digital age and portends a radical change in the advertising world. Consider some of the reasons why Pepsi has moved toward an internal content group:

  1. An internal

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June 19, 2016  •  Permalink

3 Automotive Brands That Have Shined in Subcategory Competition

In my view, the firms that are achieving real growth are moving from brand competition to subcategory competition. They have created “must haves” that define new subcategories, managed those subcategories to success, and built barriers that inhibit or prevent competitors from becoming relevant. My book Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant details, a summary of which appears in Aaker on Branding.

The evidence is extensive. If you look at categories over long time periods and identify spurts of growth, with rare exceptions, they can be associated with

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June 15, 2016  •  Permalink

The Only Way to Really Grow Your Brand

To grow your brand, you must create “must haves” that define subcategories

The only way to grow a business (with rare exceptions) is to create “must haves” that define subcategories, manage those subcategories to success and build barriers to inhibit competitors from becoming relevant. In conducting research for both of my books, Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant and Aaker on Branding, I found that most major bursts of growth are associated with the creation of new “must haves.” Those who aspire to grow will learn to shift focus from

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June 9, 2016  •  Permalink

Nestlé’s Risky but Noble Approach to a Worldwide Problem

Imagine this scenario: your firm, which operates in 189 countries and is worth over 240 Billion dollars, manufactures a product with a core ingredient proven to be the culprit for major health concerns worldwide. This scenario has occurred in the past with tobacco and alcohol products, and it’s happening again with brands who sell products high in sugar like Coca-Cola and Nestlé. In such circumstances, how does your business react? How do you answer the critics? How do you inspire employees to believe in the brand?

While Nestlé’s competitors are taking somewhat predictable, more short-term solutions to this problem, Nestlé is marching down its own path toward becoming a scientifically

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May 31, 2016  •  Permalink

The Secret to Brand Signature Stories

Adapted from an article authored by myself and Jennifer Aaker; published in California Management Review, Spring 2016

Stories are a hot topic in marketing because they have been shown to be superior to facts in getting attention, being remembered, in changing opinions, in stimulating social activity, developing emotion, and curiously, even in communicating facts. Many firms have added journalists, editors, and filmmakers to their staffs to create or find meaningful stories and present them in a compelling way.

Stories are often thought mainly to support tactical short-term communication objectives. But there is also a role for “signature stories” that represent some form of strategic statement about an organization’s mission, values, brand, customer relationship, or strategic intent.

Consider L.L.

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May 12, 2016  •  Permalink

When Innovation Needs Vertical Integration

The most successful firms of the last few decades, like Apple, Tesla, and fast-fashion retailers, achieved such success with extreme vertical integration strategies. These strategies were driven by two assumptions which don’t fit the classical rationale for vertical integration. First, hand-off firms simply weren’t up to the task of achieving the “going beyond” innovation that was needed and created onerous coordination problems. Second, owning innovation and its subsequent refinement and enhancement helps to foster future innovation that’s faster and more impactful and provides protection against competitive followers. There are three brands that serve as good examples of this:


Apple is one of the most vertically integrated firms. They control the software, customer interface, product design, retailing, and have close watch on manufacturing.

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May 5, 2016  •  Permalink

Six Reasons to Admire the Sephora Brand

There are six reasons that I’m impressed with the Sephora brand – and all are tied to the cosmetic supplier’s integrated strategy and ability to draw a customer into its brand experience.

  1. The Store Atmosphere Offers a Sensory Experience

When you walk into a Sephora store, you feel so much energy and involvement. The staff, dressed in distinctive uniforms, are welcoming and ready help you, you hear upbeat and lively music, and see busy customers trying products for themselves in an easy, efficient way. There are stations all over the clearly laid-out store that allow hands-on access to the products. It is the ultimate in customer involvement. The hands-on elements offered in Sephora stores include the fragrance identifier, InstaScent (once called Poof), that spritzes raw notes of a perfume to help customers determine which

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April 26, 2016  •  Permalink