You are viewing Aaker on Brands blog posts from August 21, 2013 through October 23, 2013. You can also view the most recent posts.

Lessons from My Three Favorite Charity Brands

I have three favorite charities that also happen to be my favorite nonprofit brands: Feeding America, Teach for America, and Nothing But Nets. The charities share some notable characteristics.

  • They all have: addressed a meaningful social and economic problem area. There are 16 million children living in poverty in the U.S. needing food and education. Every 60 seconds in Africa a person, mostly children, die of malaria.
  • They all have: a concept that really works administered with a smart, competent staff with impressive executive leadership. The Teach for America teachers have proved they can turn around challenging schools. Feeding America provides food for people that need it to thrive and sometimes to survive. Nothing But Nets puts insecticide-treated bed nets in the hands of families, nets that change the odds against malaria.
  • They

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October 23, 2013  •  Permalink

Why Do Executives Work for Big Brands?

A strong brand can add value in a way that has been ignored—by making the firm more attractive to executives so they will accept less salary. In an era in which salaries are mushrooming out of control, this is no trivial matter for recruitment and for shareholder interests. A recent paper by Nader Tavassoli (London Business School), Alina Sorescu (Texas A&M), and Rajesh Chandy (London Business School), “Employee-Based Brand Equity,” documents that assertion and explains why.

Executive attraction to a job is based in part on a drive for self-enhancement among a reference group. Associating with a strong brand provides connections that transfer to the executive, such as prestige and success. The implication is that the steward of a strong, successful

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October 16, 2013  •  Permalink

David vs. Goliath: Who Knew the Underdog Has the Advantage?

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013), is provocative. He makes several points about mismatched contests. Although he does not use any business or brand examples, many of his points could have been drawn from the world of business strategy.

Firstly, the “giant’s” advantages can also be a source of weakness. Goliath was huge and strong but the size he was blessed with caused him to be slow and have bad eyesight. The giant firm is really good at their business model; they are financially successful and make incremental improvements each year which apparently make them even more formidable. As a result, there is no incentive for them to change. The current system is working very well, but that “stick-to-your-knitting” concept makes them vulnerable. Another giant firm advantage is size and the resulting clout in

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October 9, 2013  •  Permalink

Obamacare: Is the Republican Framing Win in Jeopardy?

Marketers can learn about the power of framing both from both Republicans, who are so good at it and also the Democrats, who are so bad. The latest Obamacare activity is the perfect example. The issue I’m discussing here isn’t to do with whether or not Obamacare is good (or bad) for the nation – it’s rather how each side of the debate is framing their opinion successfully or unsuccessfully. The Republicans won the Obamacare framing battle by a big margin. The question is, did they overreach?

The Republicans framed the healthcare discussion with the label “Obamacare” and thus associations were created, especially among Republicans and independents, of big government, taxes, mandates, loss of control over individual medical care, and President Obama. Their attacks on Obama are twofers – they’re attacks on the President and on Obamacare as well.

Democrats could have framed

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October 2, 2013  •  Permalink

Taco Bell: The Ad Age Marketer of the Year

Taco Bell, Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, was recognized for their brand’s incredible turnaround. In 2011, Taco Bell sales declined by 1.4% in part because of a January lawsuit alleging that their beef taco was not really all beef. In 2012, the brand came roaring back with store sales up an astounding 8% and the momentum continued in 2013. How did they do it? The answer is threefold: wildly successful product innovation, a radical new brand position around “live mas” (live more), and a creative social media program with a host of tentacles.

The home-run product platform was introduced early in 2012 in the form of the Doritos Locos Tacos; over 100 million were sold in just the first ten weeks, and the brand extensions,

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September 25, 2013  •  Permalink

Diaspora Marketing—A Market Entry Route

How does an emerging market brand break into the US and other major markets? Try diaspora marketing, advise Nirmalya Kumar and Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp in an October Harvard Business Review article. Diasporas are groups living away from their birth countries such as first-generation immigrants. The idea is to market your brand to a group that is familiar with and has an affinity for offerings that come from their home country. When that group provides a sales base, it gradually expands to people connected to the diaspora and finally to a broader market. This strategy avoids the often unfeasible attempt to build a brand on foreign shores from zero.

The diaspora strategy not only provides a solution to a tough problem for many brands. Firms attempting to engage in brand extensions can learn from these ideas. Look first

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September 18, 2013  •  Permalink

Will Neural Marketing Become A Game-Changer?

Neural marketing, which involves techniques such as fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or EEG (electroencephalogram), is a hot topic in marketing. It can purportedly generate insight into consumer response to marketing variables while reducing the biases inherent in asking consumers their opinion, such as when they are not able or willing to give valid answers to questions involving perceptions, attitudes, or behavior. Further, consumers are driven in part by subconscious thoughts and emotions that neural marketing techniques can access. There are estimates that 95% of all thoughts are subconscious.

Neural marketing, in the right context, can measure variables like attention, engagement, emotion, pleasure/liking, and memory. Each of these can be an extremely relevant dependent variable of interest when testing or evaluating many marketing stimuli.

Here are several interesting

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September 11, 2013  •  Permalink

What Is Brand Equity and Why is it Valuable?

In the late 1980s, brand equity was just emerging as an important idea. In 1991 I published a book, Managing Brand Equity that defines brand equity and describes how it generates value. This model provided one perspective on brand equity that is worth another look now over twenty years later.

I defined brand equity as a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand name and symbol, which add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service. Connecting “brand” to the concepts of “equity” and “assets” radically changed the marketing function, enabling it to expand beyond strategic tactics and get a seat at the executive table. Marketing was reframed by an avalanche of researchers, authors and executives who provided substance and momentum to this idea.

My model

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September 4, 2013  •  Permalink

Choose The Cover of My Next Book, Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles that Drive Success

My next book, Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles that Drive Success will be released later this year. It will present the 20 essential principles of branding that lead to the creation of strong brands and brand portfolios. It provides a checklist of strategies, perspectives, tools and concepts that represent not only what you should know but also what actions you should take. At 200, pages it provides access to my perspective on branding in a very compact form.

But before the book is released, it needs a cover. Cover design is fascinating. Just peruse Amazon or any bookstore and consider the variety of concepts. In doing that exercise many times, I have come up with a few “truths” about cover design. But with every rule comes an exception, and I have no explanation for some of the huge best sellers that seem to violate the rules I’ve discovered.

I look for three things in a cover.

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August 27, 2013  •  Permalink

7 Indicators of Brand-Building Inadequacy

Is your brand-building effort effective? Is the budget spend effective? In my first branding book, Managing Brand Equity, I identified indicators that brand-building was misdirected, mismanaged, or underfunded--problems that are increasingly relevant today. With a few edits, here is the list.

  • Managers cannot identify with confidence the existing brand image, its strength, and how it differs across segments and over time.
  • Knowledge of levels of brand awareness is lacking or imprecise, and the visibility of the brand among segments is just guesswork.
  • There is no in-depth understanding of the basis for customer loyalty or of how it is lost or reduced. A systematic, reliable, sensitive, and valid set of measures of customer satisfaction and loyalty by segment is

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August 21, 2013  •  Permalink