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Brand Portfolio Strategy: Creating Relevance, Differentiation, Energy, Leverage, and Clarity Hardcover – April 6, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Corporations may legally be considered persons, but to promote their individuality to consumers, they need a brand—and a strategy. This intriguing marketing treatise teaches companies how to understand and exploit the finely graded social system that brands inhabit in the marketplace. Projecting both "personality elements" and "emotional and self-expressive" qualities onto brands, customers are skeptical of parvenu brands that try to move up into super premium markets, contemptuous of brands that move down into "value" markets, and uneasy about brands that associate with less reputable labels. To help businesspeople sort through and capitalize on such perceptual niceties, Aaker, a consultant, professor and author of Building Strong Brands, plots out a complicated taxonomy of master brands, subbrands, endorser brands, brand alliances, branded energizers, silver bullet brands, cash cow brands and "fighter" brands (the latter protect more important brands from being sullied by competition with lesser brands). Aaker encourages companies to think of their brands as members of a football team, each with a well-defined role to play, and offers a wealth of case studies and exercises to help managers decide how to handle their portfolios. Aaker’s readable prose imparts real substance to these concepts, and provides insight into such issues as how to clarify a confusing assortment of brands, differentiate a company’s brands from its competitors’, introduce a new brand or kill off an old one. While the book is aimed at marketing executives, who will glean much practical advice from it, interested lay readers will find it a revealing insider’s look at how the business world conceives of and manipulates consumer psychology.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Bernhard Eggli Managing Director, Head of Brand Management, UBS There's no authority on branding to equal David Aaker, and here he shows again his weight of experience and keenness of insight. This is a thoughtful exploration of how to structure, manage, and extend a brand portfolio for maximum value. The passages on how to energize and differentiate a brand are especially illuminating. Excellent.

Sam Hill President, Helios Consulting; former Vice Chairman, DMB&B Brand portfolio optimization will be the value-creating management approach of the next decade, and will change the way we do business as fundamentally as has business process reengineering or six sigma. Dr. Aaker has written a simple and pragmatic guidebook that will be tremendously useful to strategists. He has almost single-handedly transformed branding from an art into a science, and no one is better qualified to lead the discussion on brand portfolio strategy.

Anil Menon Vice President, Corporate Brand Strategy & Worldwide Market Intelligence, IBM Corporation Effective branding is a mission-critical business priority. And, as product-markets increasingly commoditize, a clear brand strategy can offer a path to competitive differentiation, particularly for B2B companies. Professor Aaker is at his brilliant best in this book with clear advice on how to make brands 'real' in the daily life of an organization and relevant in the marketplace.

Philip Kotler Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University Brand Portfolio Strategy is a 'must' read for any company saddled with brands whose roles and relationships go begging for clarification and wiser direction. David Aaker, our most original conceptual thinker on branding, has again pushed brand management into exciting new territory.

John Elkins, EVP, Global Brand, Marketing & Corporate Relations, Visa International With timely insight, Aaker shows how to use portfolio tools to help firms address the strategic challenge of staying relevant and differentiated in dynamic markets.

Anna Catalano Group Vice President, Marketing, BP Aaker's epilogue of 20 takeaways should be a bible for all brand managers who want to drive business success.

Peter Sealey Ph.D., former Chief Marketing Officer, The Coca-Cola Company Brand Portfolio Strategy hits the mark dead center into the most relevant and hotly debated topic in marketing today. Aaker builds on his previous trilogy of seminal branding books with his best offering yet -- a great strategic and practical read.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (April 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743249380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743249386
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My passion is understanding brands and helping firms build brands and brand portfolios. My first brand book, Managing Brand Equity defined brand equity and set forth its value to a firm and its customers. The second, Building Strong Brands, described the "brand identity" model that many firms use to manage their brands and also introduced the Brand Equity Ten measurement structure. The third, Brand Leadership extended the brand identity model and adding material on brand building programs. The fourth, Brand Portfolio Strategy, introduces models and concepts that allow a firm to sort out the complexities of brand portfolios and the priorities and relationships that define them. The fifth, Spanning Silos presents research showing the problems that product and country silos organizations pose to those who would build brands and create effective marketing and what some firms have done to create cooperation and communication to break down the silo barriers.

My latest book, not counting my autobiography, is Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant that shows success in dynamic markets involves creating offerings so innovative that they create new categories or subcategories making competitors irrelevant.

I am a part of Prophet, a global brand and marketing consulting company that is on the forefront of branding issues, professor emeritus of the Haas School at UC Berkeley, and an advisor to Denstu. I also blog on Aaker on Brands ( I live in Orinda, California near my three daughters and seven grandchildren and try to do a lot of biking and just enough golfing.

There follows the formal career summary.

David A. Aaker is the Vice-Chairman of Prophet Brand Strategy, Professor Emeritus of Marketing Strategy at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and an 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 14 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 his latest book, Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant. His books have been translated into eighteen languages with sales well over one million. 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 the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Aaker has earned and deserves his renown as an expert on branding. Perhaps you have read one or more of his previous books: Managing Brand Equity (1991), Building Strong Brands (1995), Developing Business Strategies (1998), Brand Leadership (with Eric Joachimsthaler, 2000), and Strategic Market Management (2001). In my opinion Brand Portfolio Strategy is Aaaker's most important work thus far. One of the most popular recent buzz words is "portfolio" which, insofar as strategy is concerned, is best understood in terms of diversity which creates or allows for options and opportunities otherwise unavailable. According to Aaker, the brand portfolio strategy "provides the structure and discipline needed to have successful business strategy. A brand portfolio strategy which is confused and incoherent can handicap and sometimes doom a business strategy. One that fosters organizational and market strategies, creates relevant. differentiated and energized brand assets, and leverage es those brand assets, on the other hand, will. support and enable business strategy." The brand portfolio strategy which Aaker advocates, therefore, creates relevance, differentiation, energy, leverage, and clarity.
There is a diagram inside the front and back covers of this book which illustrates precisely what such a strategy involves, and, what the various relationships are between and among its various components. (As I read this book, I found it helpful to refer back to the diagram occasionally as I would to a map throughout a journey. The same diagram also appears on page 17.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The book is overly filled with newly-invented jargons such as Brand Differentiator, Brand Relevance, Range Brand, Sub-brand with Brand Differentiator, which can make readers overwhelmed with decoding the content.
A responsible writer on Branding should help readers simplify the complex and make it easy for them to know the true picture of branding.
This book is not entirely new. About 20% of the content(I would say more than the author admitted in the Preface) is based on Aaker's old books like Brand Equity, Building Brand Identity, and Brand Leadership. Examples are predictable and have been used before in his old books, mostly including Intel, Marriott, and the like. The cases drawn for this book can be very biased since Intel, Sony, Microsoft, Dove and so forth are world-class,big budget brands. Of course they have the know-how and abundant resources to build successful brands. Aaker should quote some medium or low budget brand cases that turn themselves into successful brands.
As a Vice-Chairman of Prophet, a brand consultancy, readers may worry about Aaker's (not just a Brand/Marketing Professor from Berkeley now!) objectivity in examples selections as well.
Besides, the Clients that Prophet serve are mostly not the world-class brands(except just one or two, like Adidas). This may reduce the credibility of Aaker as a branding expert in the first place since he wrote about the world-class brands, not really building the world-class brands himself or with his colleagues.
There is a tendency for authors to rush out new books these days. In fact, quality does count. For authors who have been preaching the importance of good quality in the branding process, they should walk the talk themselves!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tomas Hrivnak on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In fact, after Building Strong Brands, Brand Portfolio strategy has been a big disappointment for me. The book failed to deliver practically on all of the dimensions from the title: it is not very relevant, it definitely doesn't energize the reader, doesn't offer much inspiration for brand leverage and clarity of writing also isn't one of its virtues. Well, it IS different - perhaps just becasue there are not very many texts on the issue. Not a big help for practical brand management, I'm afraid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Huijskes on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
David Aaker might be the Kottler of brand strategy. Brand strategy is not an exact science. Aaker can't change that. But he does give the field a profound and comprehensive set of definitions, that makes the development process of a portfolio strategy a transparent one for al involved.
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Format: Hardcover
As brands assume roles equal to or more important than the actual products, keeping them dynamic and relevent becomes ever more crucial for business performance. Yet that challenge is becoming more complex as brands proliferate, cluttering brand porfolios and diluting brand equities.

In this book, Aaker builds a framework for understanding the key issues in brand management based on analysis of common initiatives taken by leading companies. It takes a theoretical approach, but it is based in real world examples that make it easy to follow.

I found the section on brand extensions very useful. For example, when considering a brand extensions, should the existing brand be leveraged, simply using a descriptor to define the offering; or should a new sub-brand created...if so, which will play the greater role in defining the offering and driving purchase -- the subbrand or the master?
These are the sorts of issues brand managers and strategists face on a daily basis so Aaker's exporation of these issues is very useful.

"Brand Portfolio Strategy" is not in the category of "brand enlightenment" tales, like Scott Bedbury's "A new brand world". It takes time to get through, can be rather dry.... but overall I found it an excellent investment of time and money.
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