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Aaker on Branding: 20 Branding Principles That Drive Success: 20 Principles That Drive Success Paperback – 17 Sep 2015
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“From the Father of Modern Branding, the latest and best theory and practice.” (Philip Kotler)
“Nobody knows brand strategy better than David Aaker. Aaker has taken all of the essential principles of branding and collapsed them into one epic brand book. Whether you’re a seasoned brand marketer or just getting started, this book will provide you with a practical path to creating, nurturing and leveraging strong brands.” (Ann Lewnes)
"Professor Aaker has truly given the business world a gift: A highly concise and wonderfully cogent and insightful tutorial on the principles of brand stewardship and leadership."(Joseph V. Tripodi)
"David Aaker is one of my favorite brand authorities because he understands that the modern brand is an asset that should create value and drive strategy for corporations. His latest treatise is brand dynamite."
About the Author
David Aaker, recognized authority on branding, has written seven books on brands and brand strategy and another ten on related topics that together have sold well over one million copies. He developed several concepts including the “Aaker” brand vision model, branded energizers, branded differentiators, the brand relationship spectrum, and framing a category.
David is the Vice-Chairman of Prophet Brand Strategy, Professor Emeritus of Marketing Strategy at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and an executive advisor to Dentsu Inc. The winner of three career awards for contributions to the science of marketing (the Paul D. Converse Award), marketing strategy (the Vijay Mahajan Award) and the theory and practice of marketing (the Buck Weaver Award), he has published over 100 articles and 18 books including Strategic Market Management, Managing Brand Equity, Building Strong Brands, Brand Leadership (co-authored with Erich Joachimsthaler) Brand Portfolio Strategy, From Fargo to the World of Brands, Spanning Silos, and Brand Relevance. His books have been translated into eighteen languages and sold well over a million copies. Named as one of the top five most important marketing/business gurus in 2007, Professor Aaker has won awards for the best article in the California Management Review and (twice) in the Journal of Marketing. A recognized authority on brand equity and brand strategy, he has been an active consultant and speaker throughout the world and is on the Board of Directors of California Casualty Insurance Company and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.
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The result is a compelling, easy-to-read work that can either be read piece-by-piece or from cover to cover. With a wealth of sage advice and real-world examples on every page, you’re sure to learn something no matter how you approach it. Aside from Aaker’s sure, confident writing style, the book also benefits from having a compelling subject buoyed by sharp organization. As Aaker puts it in his introduction, “Brands and brand strategy are simply fun and interesting. Many a time has a CEO allocated half an hour to a brand strategy session and end up staying for hours affirming on their way out that the session was the most fun time working in months.”
Indeed, branding is interesting, and as Aaker on Branding demonstrates, it has become the central most important consideration for businesses in any industry. But how do you make your brand shine?
What is a brand, and why does it matter?
Aaker wastes no time establishing the importance of branding, leading the book off with the statement, “Far more than a name and logo, [a brand] is an organization’s promise to a customer to deliver what the brand stands for not only in terms of functional benefits but also emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits.”
And as Aaker explains in the book’s opening chapter, this knowledge turns brands into assets that drive strategy. The result of this understanding is that branding efforts over the past 25 years have been shifting from “tactical and reactive to strategic and visionary.”
Such a shift has had a profound shift on both organizational and marketing strategy. More recently, this shift has corresponded with the rise of social technologies, a process which we detail in our book The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, 2013). In order to accomplish this, marketers must be guaranteed a seat at the strategy table, as internal branding becomes just as essential as external branding.
Says Aaaker, “The brand will only deliver on the brand promise if the employees ‘believe’ and live the brand in all the customer touchpoints.”
A visionary branding strategy involves widespread buy-in to an organization’s mission, vision, and values. Without a brand vision, one fundamentally established in how your organization operates, your brand either won’t be able to distinguish itself or it will be making promises and projecting an image that it can’t live up to. Says Aaker,
When the brand vision clicks—is spot on—it will reflect and support the business strategy, differentiate from competitors, resonate with customers, energize and inspire the employees and partners, and precipitate a gush of ideas for marketing programs. When absent or superficial, the brand will drift aimlessly and marketing programs are likely to be inconsistent and ineffective.
Aaker lays out a process for creating a compelling, actionable brand vision that is memorable and actionable, inspirational and practical. While the essence of a brand vision can be summed up in a brief statement, Aaker recommends creating between six and twelve vision elements and then organizing them into a core tier and a secondary, extended tier.
Building a brand vision, a set of organizational values that Aaker says “implies a promise to customers and a commitment by the organization,” brings with it a strategic imperative. An organization has to be able to deliver on whatever promise is being made to its stakeholders. If it is not positioned to do so, it is all but guaranteed to alienate those stakeholders as it fails to live up to its promise. And once this has happened, once customers, employees, or both have lost faith in a brand, building that trust back can be nothing less than a Sisyphean task.
Brand Energy and Sweet Spots
By establishing core brand values, brands will have a better idea of what they need to do in order to create “brand energy.” This energy is how a brand connects with its customers. In B2C organizations, this often involves the development of a distinct brand personality, an identity that speaks not just to what that company does, but also to how it shares values, passion, and concerns with its target community.
To illustrate how powerful this can be, Aaker discusses the brand-as-personality. If you were talking to your brand as a person, what would they say to you? As Aaker explains, “Exploring what a brand-as-person might say to you can be a good way to uncover emotional response to brands.” Almost certainly, some of the answers are likely to surprise you, and as Aaker explains through the story of a well-known credit card company, sometimes the same brand personality traits can lead to very differing perceptions.
Another way to build brand energy and cement a positive, activated personality is to find customer “sweet spots.” How can your brand connect with your stakeholders in areas such as self-identity, lifestyle, or other cultural values? As Aaker explains, sometimes finding these sweet spots is a natural extension of your brand, such as the “Pampers Village” set up by Pampers in order to provide the go-to resource for childcare questions for parents.
For other brands, the connection might not be as obvious in relation to a brand’s product offerings, though it will still be able to resonate with consumers along key elements of your brand’s vision. Such is the case with RedBull, a beverage brand that actively sponsors events and activities centered around an active, no-holds-barred lifestyle. Aaker’s example of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign was also especially eye-opening.
The key is that having good perception of your brand isn’t always enough. Being able to define what you do and actively seek opportunities to engage others is where the real energy comes from. So while each of Aaker’s 20 tips is a wealth of sound advice in its own, it’s the synergy of these tips, the idea that each builds off the other, that can really produce magic for a brand.