December 2010

Prophet’s Top 10 From ’10

With the clock winding down on the first decade of the new millennium, it’s interesting to look back at how marketing and brand management have changed – or at least, how the pressure points and imperatives for marketers have changed.

And this year’s “Top 10 from ‘10” edition of Prophet’s newsletter speaks to the continuing evolution. Our most popular articles from 2010 reinforce that the need for a strong brand might be a constant, but our paths for getting there have changed dramatically. A decade ago, the Internet was in its infancy. The notion of tapping into a network of influencers and customers, linked by technology, was unheard of. Innovation was an ideal, not a business priority.

Hang onto your hats as we move into 2011. We suspect it will continue to be quite a ride!

Here’s to a joyous 2010 holiday season.

#1 Why Are Strong Brands Strong?
Just about any of David Aaker’s thinking flies off our figurative shelves, and this piece examining one of the age-old questions about brand strategy proved no exception. In it, he looks at common characteristics shared by disparate strong brands, from visibility to value.

#2 How Marketers Should Lead the Conversation in Social Media
Marketers have an unending appetite for anything that advances their understanding of social media, and this piece by Chiaki Nishino and Gabriela Henault did that well. It set the stage for how to think about the nuances of social media, while offering a six-point checklist for creating an effective social media strategy.
#3 Prophet Perspective: Brand Portfolio Strategy
When businesses generate some 90% of their profits from fewer than 20% of their brands, something’s amiss in the portfolio or the strategy, or both. In this popular piece, Kevin O’Donnell says it takes more than a de rigueur brand portfolio restructuring to gain sustainable improvements, and offers up three considerations to support the process.
#4 Winning Strategies Start With the End in Mind
Effectively combining the visionary with the concrete is the challenge if the end goal is successful business growth. Sounds simple, but it’s a winning combination that eludes too many marketers. Fred Geyer and Scott Davis examine how to make it happen with the Plan to Win approach to strategic planning.

#5 In Business or Travel, Recombobulation's the Ticket
Sometimes you just need to find a way to recombobulate from the discombobulations that life tosses your way. How? Andy Stefanovich offers up three ways to establish your own recombobulation zone – and respark your creative edge in the process.
#6 How to Come Up With a Breakthrough Marketing Idea
Feeling creative? It doesn’t really require endless analytics and iterations of ideas. David Warren and Joseph Gelman offer up a simple framework built around this equation to making ideas fly: inspiration + creativity = innovation.

#7 Marketing Builds Brands: Brands Build Cash Flows
Accountants and marketers: unlikely bedfellows. Here Roger Sinclair discusses why these two professions aren’t as far apart as it would seem on the surface, converging at the point of income, or cash. He explains how marketers can – and should – capitalize on that convergence to become truly empowered.

#8 Paths to Purchase
As Fred Geyer writes, you may think sponsorships are just the ticket for building brand awareness and leading customers through the door. But for some categories – think banks and investment services – there’s little relevance to top-of-mind awareness if your customers don’t make snap decisions. A more strategic approach may be to structure your marketing program around the customer’s path to purchase in your category. Fred offers up a framework for the thinking involved.

#9 Successful Brand Turnarounds Require Fearless Moves
It takes guts to bring about a successful brand pivot. In tracking how Hyundai, Microsoft, and Domino’s did it, Scott Davis provides some takeaways to guide how marketers can rebuild their brands’ relevance to customers – and keep business growing.

#10 From Control to Influence – Brand Leadership in a Networked Era
In this new era of networked brand building, Roland Bernhard writes, customers can only be influenced toward a desired outcome, not controlled. He demonstrates what it means by contrasting BP’s heavy use of advertising in the post-Gulf oil spill disaster to a successful word-of-mouth effort by Freitag.

Short takes

David Aaker can now add "citizen journalist" to his many other writing credits, with the launch of his new blog, “Aaker on Brands.” His weekly posts delve into topics ranging from a look, five years later, at the wisdom behind the Macy’s name change to a recount of his top ten brand precepts. Please visit, subscribe to it on your favorite news reader, and look for him on Twitter.

Join us in welcoming Helen Keyes, a designer with more than 25 years of experience in the complete scope of corporate branding, as an associate partner. Helen, who will work from our New York office, has worked with international clients in a variety of sectors, ranging from British Telecom to Scandinavian Airlines to Colgate-Palmolive to Ford.

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