The book: Aaker on Branding:  20 Principles That Drive Success

The brain: One of the definitive voices on branding, David Aaker. Dave has published more than 100 articles and 15 books on branding, brand strategy, and brand management, including Managing Brand Equity and Building Strong Brands, two texts that have served as my bibles.

Listen to my conversation with Dave to learn:

  • the Aaker brand vision model
  • how to create brand energy
  • his point-of-view on whether or not brands still have value in today’s age of nearly-perfect, ubiquitous information

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

The best bits: The whole book is a sort of greatest hits album since it contains some of Dave’s best thinking from the past 25 years. Five themes are used to organize the brand-building principles:

  1. Recognize that brands are assets with strategic value.

“When brands are considered assets, the role of brand management radically changes, from tactical and reactive to strategic and visionary. A strategic brand vision linked to both the current and future business strategies and providing a guidepost for future offerings and marketing programs becomes imperative.”

  1. Have a compelling brand vision that guides and inspires.

“All too common is what I call the product-attribute fixation trap, in which the strategic and tactical management of the brand is excessively focused on product attributes and functional benefits…Functional benefit strategies are limiting because they often confine the brand, especially when it comes to responding to changing markets or exploring brand extensions.”

  1. Bring the brand vision to life.

“One of the key challenges for most brands globally is to create energy and visibility…Connecting a brand to a customer sweet spot raises the brand way above the noise emanating from firms shouting ‘my brand is better than your brand.’”

  1. Maintain relevance.

“Creating brand energy should be a priority for nearly every brand; inadequate energy means a reduced chance of being visible when purchases are being made, a perception of being old and boring and not-for-me, and a deterioration of the brand image.”

  1. Manage and leverage the brand portfolio.

“We should not be under the illusion that the goal is to create and protect brands. Rather, the goal should be to create and leverage a brand portfolio to enable the business strategy to succeed.”

The brand story: Dave highlights Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” as an example of connecting a brand to a customer sweet spot.

“The Real Beauty campaign resonated at several levels.  It connected with an issue of deep concern with the customer base – their own appearance and self-confidence. Additionally, it addressed the insecurity and self-esteem issues of young women with which customers could empathize. It struck a chord. It provided a higher purpose to the brand and a shared interest with customers.”

The bottom line: If you haven’t read Dave’s previous books, this is a terrific introduction; and if you have, it serves as a helpful refresher. Either way, it’s a resource all brand builders should have in their library.

This is my newest “brand book bite” — check out the full collection of write-ups and author interviews here.

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