You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from November 13, 2013 through January 15, 2014. You can also view the most recent posts.

California Casualty: A Role Model for the Power of Energizers

California Casualty is a 100-year-old property and casualty insurance firm with premiums just over 300 million dollars and an admirable sense of values and culture that harks back to the founder. Now run by a fourth generation CEO, the firm proudly states “We protect American heroes” and primarily serves affinity groups such as police, firefighters, nurses and educators. The firm is able to offer specialized products and services to these groups and provide added value to their associations as a result. (Full disclosure, I am a former board member of California Casualty.)

It’s a great company, but they have a problem cutting through messaging clutter, creating branded energy and gaining visibility in the marketplace. They have two handicaps that are shared by many firms. First, their product, insurance, is regarded by many as being either

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January 15, 2014  •  Permalink

Need a Digital Role Model? Consider Burberry.

Luxury brand think tank L2 recently rated Burberry as the best digital program of all the luxury clothing brands. So, I set out to see what prompted this appraisal.

Burberry has creatively used digital to inject energy into the brand with a variety of programs, some with little obvious link to their clothing.


  • Their “Art of the Trench” website where customers can post pictures of themselves wearing the iconic Burberry trench coat. The project is an ongoing collaboration between Burberry and some of the

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January 8, 2014  •  Permalink

What Are Your “Take My Name Off the Door When...” Values?

I was recently reminded of the power of meaningful organizational values when I watched Leo Burnett’s farewell speech, “When To Take My Name Off the Door.” In his own style, he talked about making outstanding advertising, which is the core value of Leo Burnett.

He says in part: “Somewhere along the line, after I’m finally off the premises, you – or your successors – may want to take my name off the premises, too. That will certainly be OK with me. But let me tell you when I might demand that you take my name off the door. That will be the day:

  • When you spend more time trying to make money and less time making advertising – our kind of advertising
  • When you forget the sheer fun of ad making and the lift you get out of it
  • When you

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January 2, 2014  •  Permalink

Looking Back: Top 5 Brand Building Tips From 2013

While looking back at my blog in 2013, I wondered: Which posts address a key dimension of branding and provide insight that should help others? I selected the top five posts that can make a difference in brand strategy. These issues all appear on the pages of my upcoming book, Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles That Drive Success.

Five steps to getting brand touchpoints right

The brand vision needs to be reflected by the brand experience at each touchpoint. To get it right, you must: identify existing and needed touchpoints, determine which are deficient, evaluate the impact of each on customers, prioritize, and develop a touchpoint action plan. A touchpoint program will affect the customer experience and reinforce the brand vision internally and externally.

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December 23, 2013  •  Permalink

Tesla Needs to Re-Position the Gas-Powered Car Sub-category

Tesla has gotten significant negative press coverage because of accidents involving fires. In Washington and Tennessee, fires resulted after cars ran over debris on the road that pierced the battery compartment. These incidents have caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a formal investigation into the safety of the Tesla Model S electric car. (A third fire happened in Mexico after a driver drove through a wall and hit a tree.)

Tesla’s stock has already rebounded, after an initial plunge, after a German safety inquiry said it found no mechanical defects with the $70,000 cars. But consumers may be tougher to win back than investors. The images of burning Teslas will be hard to overcome in the minds of potential buyers.

Tesla needs to reframe the discussion away from the safety of Tesla alone and shift the conversation to a comparison between the safety of gasoline-powered

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December 19, 2013  •  Permalink

The Power of Print

A few days ago I received two items in the mail that caught my eye and reminded me of the power of print: A Tiffany & Co. catalog, and WSJ. Magazine.

The Tiffany & Co. catalog was in glossy booklet form but was so well-designed and eye-appealing that I was immediately drawn in. Incredible, creative Tiffany designs were photographed impeccably. The jewelry was surrounded by settings and visual stories that involved a man and a woman in a meaningful relationship, with the occasional dog or staircase making an appearance. The title page had the words “The Perfect Holiday Comes Wrapped in Blue” presented on the classic Tiffany blue background. The first page opens with a picture of the Tiffany blue box with the line “There is such a thing as the perfect present.” Each page had descriptive and often poetic text. The rose bracelet was accompanied with “Tiffany designers honor the

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December 11, 2013  •  Permalink

7 Brands I Admired in 2013

My colleague, Scott Davis recently polled the Prophet team of over 400 brand fanatics to find the top brand winners and losers of 2013. There were plenty of nominees, but the three in the top spots were Nike, Miley Cyrus and Netflix. Nike with its Fuelband SE connects consumers, activities, communities, products and services in a way that revolutionizes exercise programs. Miley Cyrus schooled major brands by controlling the dialog, changing what is relevant and taking the meaning of brand energy to a whole new level. Netflix, which only a few years ago seemed to be fading, transformed itself into an almost indispensable part of the lives of many and with ongoing innovation have made their brand the dynamic

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December 4, 2013  •  Permalink

Achieving Creative Confidence: Seven Suggestions

David Kelley, the founder of IDEO and the Stanford D-School, and his brother, Tom Kelley, a partner at IDEO and the author of two innovation books, have just published a new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.

They make some provocative and suggestive assertions; here is my take on several of them.

Everyone has creative potential - everyone.

Creativity is not reserved for those few with the right genes. The key is to attain creative confidence, a belief that you are indeed creative and an optimistic way of looking at what is possible. That confidence comes in part from trying, doing, accepting failure and creating small successes.


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November 27, 2013  •  Permalink

Kmart’s Online Advertising Strategy Is a Winner

The HUB magazine announced the results of its annual contest for the best brand experience of the year. This year, the “best of show” honors went to Kmart for their “Ship My Pants” commercial. The ad was produced to promote Kmart’s program to ship any out-of-stock or wrong-sized item in the store to you for free. It’s a program that deals directly with an ongoing Kmart issue. The 31-second spot had several characters repeat the “ship my pants” or “ship my drawers” line…and it was hard to avoid misinterpreting “ship.”

I recall that when the commercial was first aired, some said it was unwise and off-brand because it would (and did) offend some and ran counter to Kmart’s family-friendly image.


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November 20, 2013  •  Permalink

Citi Bike: Going for the Customer’s Sweet Spot

Most marketing and branding teams look to spend their budget on promoting the offering, brand, and/or firm. The problem is that their targets are not interested in their offering, brand or firm. And as a result, the payoff is disappointing and the social amplifying potential is non-existent.

An alternative is, instead, to look to what the target customers are interested in - what they talk about, how they spend their time, and what represents their values and lifestyle. I call that the customer sweet spot. Think of Pampers Village or Sephora’s BeautyTalk. And Citi Bike!

Launched in May 2013, Citi Bike is a program that put 10,000 cobalt blue three-speed bicycles with puncture resistant tires into some 600 stations all around New York City. It means that the Citi brand is pervasive in New York and, better yet, is seen on something

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November 13, 2013  •  Permalink