You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from April 23, 2014 through June 25, 2014. You can also view the most recent posts.

On Giving a Luxury Brand Relevance and Energy: Look to Burberry

There is a classic, sometimes intractable, problem for many luxury brands. The brand is losing exclusivity and product differentiation, and its customer base is getting older. How do you maintain relevance and energy with the younger segment given that big innovation is difficult and your brand needs to look and feel prestigious – so you can’t be too wild and crazy?

Burberry is a luxury brand that in the last 10 years addressed such problems and more. They faced common problems: an image issue because of being over-licensed, dealing with off-brand products, and being available at inappropriately low prices. It is a role model for others that would like to do so. Credit is largely due to former CEO, Angela Ahrendts (now SVP of Retail and Online Stores at Apple) and Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer.

The sheer quantity of initiatives Burberry launched

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June 25, 2014  •  Permalink

The 7 Biggest Issues Keeping CMOs Up At Night

What do marketing professionals really care about? What’s on their wish list? The Marketing Science Institute (MSI) is a consortium of over 75 major firms from all industries that provide an interface between practitioners and academics. Every other year, the MSI goes through a process to identify the priority issues marketing practitioners are facing in order to provide guidance to academic research. The 2014 results are out.

There are two tier one issues, five tier two issues, and four tier three issues.


Understanding customers and the customer experience

What behaviors have emerged in the multi-media, multi-screen and multi-channel world? How has social and digital changed the customer experience and path to purchase? How should customer engagement be defined and measured? How does social media create engagement? What methods provide insight?


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June 18, 2014  •  Permalink

What Makes A Good Story?

The concept of storytelling is one of the hottest topic in marketing today. By communicating a narrative that has a beginning, an end, emotions and facts, brands are able to become more human and more compelling.

Both research and common sense tell us that when facts are put into story form they are powerful because stories are more easily remembered. When facts are embedded into a story, counter-arguing is less likely because the power of the story distracts. When an argument is in a story context, people deduce the logic themselves and we know, again from research and common sense, that self-discovery is much more powerful that having people talk at you. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a storyteller is usually more liked than one attempting to persuade an audience with facts.

There is a

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June 11, 2014  •  Permalink

How Chobani Won The Subcategory Competition

In the future, branding and business in general is going to involve more subcategory creation and competition and less “my brand is better than your brand” competition. This is because, with rare exemptions, that is the only way to achieve real profitable growth. In category after category, real growth results not from market share increases, but from brands that have created a set of “must haves” that define a new subcategory and then manage that subcategory by becoming its exemplar. These brands continue to innovate and create a moving target. By managing the perceptions and attitudes toward the subcategory, the subcategory wins.

I’ve previously discussed in my blog and my book, Brand Relevance a host of examples of brands that have created subcategories and won a subcategory battle. The Chrysler minivan, Asahi Super Dry, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car, Muji (the no-brand retailer), Patagonia, Zipcar,

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June 4, 2014  •  Permalink

5 Ways to Combat Counter-Arguments, The Barrier to Brand Persuasion

How do you persuade your customers that your brand will actually keep its promise? It’s a common challenge especially if you have lost some trust because of some event or problem that is connected to your brand or your category. You and your brand must convince a doubting audience that it will deliver on its value proposition, its higher purpose, its commitment to customers, its personality, and much more.

There is a practical barrier to that goal: Counter-arguing. Customers hear the brand argument and voice their skepticism, perhaps just in their own thoughts. They counter argue against the persuasive efforts of the brand. The result is that persuasion is neutralized and, perhaps worse, negative brand thoughts are solidified or even generated by the encounter.

There are 5 ways psychologists recommend you can minimize counter-arguing:

A persuasive source

If Phil Mickelson

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May 28, 2014  •  Permalink

Brands as Media: A Route to Trust

This week, I’m taking a different perspective on the concept of the “customer sweet spot” I've discussed before and in my book, Aaker on Branding.

The “sweet spot” idea is based on the fact that brands should consider moving from a digital strategy driven by selling a brand, offering, or firm to connecting with a customer sweet spot by becoming an active partner in a shared-interest program. A “sweet spot’ reflects a customer’s beliefs, values, activities and passions. The fact is that customers are fundamentally uninterested in your offering, brand or firm – but they are interested in their own things that affect or influence their day-to-day life, and will actively engage in those topics.

I’ve written before how Nature Valley’s Views, “street-view” style portrayal of trails in national parks, connects with hikers. How American Express’s Open Forum allows a small

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May 21, 2014  •  Permalink

How Whole Foods Market Created the Ultimate Successful Subcategory

In the future, business and the business of branding is going to involve much more subcategory creation and competition, and much less “my brand is better than your brand” competition. It’s the only way to achieve real, profitable growth. Whole Foods Markets is a case in point.

Whole Foods Market created a new subcategory in grocery stores, one defined by a passion for foods that are healthy, organic and natural. As the exemplar and the acknowledged thought leader of the subcategory, it provides subcategory substance with its ban on some 70 plus additives, by delivering consistent high quality, by being a leader in transparency and labeling, and by associating with like-minded customers and partners. Their exceptional prepared food selections, their 365 line of private label organic and natural products, their interesting array of food selections, their overall execution, and their staff interactions

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May 14, 2014  •  Permalink

Find Your Customers' Sweet Spot For Digital Success

How do you create a digital strategy that involves customers in an energized social community? How do you generate an engaged, active “go-to” website? You must change the orientation of marketing from selling the offering, the brand, and firm to becoming an active partner with a shared interest program around a customer’s “sweet spot.”

A sweet spot reflects customers’ “thinking and doing” time, beliefs and values, activities and passions, possessions or places they treasure. Ideally, it would be a part of, if not central to, their self-identity and lifestyle and reflect a higher-order value proposition, much beyond the benefits provided by the offering.

To illustrate, Pampers went beyond diapers by creating the Pampers Village community that provides a “go to” place for all issues relating to babies and child care. Its

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May 7, 2014  •  Permalink

Why You Must Prove Your Brand Has Asset Value

The concept of brand equity, which began to gain acceptance over two and a half decades ago, dramatically changed marketing. Marketing executives moved into the executive suite, dealt with strategy as well as tactics, and shifted their goals to include building brand assets as well as stimulating sales.

These changes were based on the premise that brands were assets. There was and is pressure from CEOs, CFOs and others to demonstrate that, in fact, brands do have strategic asset value.

How can that challenge be addressed? There are several perspectives that can help.

Estimate Brand Value

Starts by estimating the value of the product-market business units driven by the brand. Business from Ford Focus sales in the United States, for example, would be evaluated by discounting its future expected earnings flow. The value of tangible assets (using either book or market value) is

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April 30, 2014  •  Permalink

Strong Brands, Not Same Brands

Having the same brand vision in all contexts has enormous advantages in coordinating brand efforts across product categories and markets, scaling brand-building programs and gaining internal clarity for the brand.

But the goal should be strong brands everywhere, not the same brand everywhere. Adaptation is often helpful and sometimes necessary.

Brands often span products and markets. Some brands face market share differences; look at Volkswagen’s dominance in Germany but not in the UK. Some brands have brand image differentiations, being “premium” in some geographies and “value” in others. Sometime, customers have different motivations. For example, P&G’s Olay brand found that in India people wanted skin that was brighter looking, rather than younger looking and had to readjust their strategy. Distribution channels can be a challenge. Cultural differences and local heritage can play

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April 23, 2014  •  Permalink