December 2012

As another year draws to a close, we round it out by sharing the 12 most popular articles that our team developed and shared during 2012. Some were topical, and some were instructional. Others were written to encourage you to shift your thinking, if only just a little, on what it takes to build strong brands in today’s dynamic environment. 

Our last piece of advice for the year: Reading is best enjoyed with spiced eggnog or your holiday beverage of choice.

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2013, from all of us at Prophet!

#1 David Aaker's Top 10 Brand Precepts

Prophet Vice Chairman David Aaker’s reputation precedes him. He’s a leading thinker on modern branding, and his writings – from his blogs to books to articles in professional journals – are among the most downloaded on Prophet’s site. This popular piece identifies today’s most relevant rules for successful branding and businesses.

#2 An Inspiration-Driven Approach to Innovation

Got innovation? Too many organizations don’t, spending too much time calling on the same people to sit in the same rooms, getting the same lackluster ideas time after time. Prophet Partner Phyllis Rothschild describes the approach we have developed to avert the problem, which includes inspiration at every step of the process.

#3 JCPenney's Brand-Building: Out of the Vortex

JCP, as the retailer has rebranded itself, took a big risk earlier this year when it rebranded and overhauled its merchandising strategy, removing itself from the assortment, pricing and promotions fray that typically drags retailers down. Senior Engagement Manager Paul Schrimpf took a look at the changes and why they’re important for the long haul.

#4 Putting the Force Back in Sales Force

How do you know your sales force is in need of a major overhaul? That issues such as knowledge, customer base or resource allocation may be hindering its success? Senior Partner James Walker and Associate Link Gan look at the benefits of taking an analytic approach to redesigning, optimizing and recharging the sales function and team.

#5 What Komen Forgot in Failing its Brand

The Susan B. Komen Foundation caused an uproar early this year in a policy flip-flop where it first defunded, then reinstated funding to Planned Parenthood. Senior Partner Scott Davis weighed in on the many ways its actions damaged its brand, the repercussions of which are still being felt almost a year later.

#6 5 Tenets to Help Survive, Thrive in a Digital World 

Playing in the digital world is not an option anymore for marketers who intend to help their businesses win. But the environment is chaotic, and just keeping up can have them chasing after tactics without harnessing its power. Senior Partner Chiaki Nishino offers up five truths of digital marketing that, when followed, will grow powerful customer connections and successful businesses.

#7 Brand Archetype Models: A Guide to Positioning Strategy

Prophet CEO Michael Dunn and Partner Joseph Gelman offer up a guide to six brand archetypes that marketers can use to provide a strategic backdrop to their repositioning efforts.

#8 Turning Dead, Discarded Ideas Into Growth Platforms

Sometimes, Associate Partner David Warren writes, good ideas are just ahead of their time. Making sure they’re not lost forever is a great way to continue sparking innovation. He shares some successful approaches to reviving ideas, including “clustering” them according to their potential.

#9 Customer Experience - It's Not Just for B2C Players Anymore

A common misconception is that the idea of providing a stellar customer experienceis the province of the B2C world. In fact, writes Senior Partner Jennifer Barron, Senior Engagement Manager Jesse Purewal, and Associate Nancy Lu, the attributes of great B2B players are also the hallmarks of great customer experience. They use three classic cases to illustrate.

#10 A Tough Market Brews in the Coffee Category

The coffee wars in Swiss market continue to be hard fought. Associate Partner Joerg Niessing and Senior Engagement Manager Philippe Knupp offer up a look at how the No. 2 player has edged out competitors with a brand strategy and positioning solidly grounded in a deep understanding of its customer base.

#11 How to Measure Brand Strategy

For all the angst among marketers over finding suitable metrics to measure their activities and outcomes, Academic Partner Roger Sinclair has a suggestion. Start with the corporate financial statement, as it evolves from a record of what happened in the past into information that helps you in the future.

#12 Optimizing Marketing at the Point of Sale

The point of sale represents a key moment of truth in the customer transaction, but a variety of challenges face marketers seeking to make the most of this important touchpoint. Partner Joseph Gelman and Associate Partner Markus Koch outline a two-pronged approach to overcoming the challenges.

Short Takes

We welcome Ted Moser to our team as a senior partner, working from our San Francisco office. Ted is a senior-level strategist with expertise in profitable growth strategies, particularly business model innovation and customer offer design
Congrats to our Vice Chairman David Aaker, who was named to’ list of 2012’s Top Web Savvy professors for using “online media to provide extra value to your students and the broader online community of learners.”

Some of Our 2012 Milestones
Three acquisitions this year helped us expand our footprint and deepen the areas of expertise we offer our clients. Most recently, we acquired Figtree, a fast-growing brand and design firm with offices in London and Hong Kong. Also brought into the fold were Material Group, a Chicago digital design and development studio; and (r)evolution, an Atlanta branding, marketing and innovation consultancy.
Prophet launched The Inspiratory, a new blog designed to showcase the full scope of its thinking, client successes, and approachable style across brand, marketing, innovation, design, analytics and digital.
We also launched Interested and Interesting, a podcast series of interviews with folks sure to inspire your creative mindset.

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Consultants’ Corner

Over the last few months, Prophet conducted an internal charity auction as part of our annual Prophet for Non-Profit endeavor. We're thrilled to announce that we raised over $20,000, and that the money is going toward the construction of much-needed sanitation facilities in Ugandan schools! Click here to learn more about the project. 

David Aaker's Latest Blog Post:

Killing Giants: A Relevance Interpretation

Killing Giants is a provocative book written by Stephen Denny in which he outlines 10 strategies that have worked when small firms took on the giants in their industry - firms with marketing scale, distribution clout, buying power and strong brands. In looking at these strategies, it appeared to me that nearly all had a relevance interpretation. They were reframing a category or creating a new subcategory based on a “must have” that did not exist before, or they were affecting the visibility battle that is part of gaining relevance.

Scott Davis'
Latest Blog Post:

The Top 3 Big Brand Winners (and Losers) of 2012

It’s the time of year to assess what stories stood out for better or for worse, for richer and, for some, poorer and those that just left you scratching your head.

On The Inspiratory:

Visit our blog, The Inspiratory, and experience an online destination for the interested and interesting to come and be inspired. A few of our latest posts: 

Branding Underdogs: The Importance of Storytelling in the Startup World

The Merits and Demerits of Net Promoter Score

Obama Gets Creative, and Wins

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