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Brand Leadership: The Next Level of the Brand Revolution Hardcover – March 6, 2000
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Build it ... and they'll come. Nope, not necessarily, not anymore. It's a crowded, crazy market out there, and no matter how fabulous your product or service, there's bound to be someone else delivering something pretty close. The solution? Take your product or service and ... brand it! Though the idea has been around in management circles since the late 1980s, brand equity has never been more important than it is now. In Brand Leadership, David Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler set out to guide managers to the next level of the brand revolution.
Building and managing brands, though obviously vital and necessary steps in the process, do not make up the whole picture of the successful development of a brand. What is needed is strategic brand leadership. Implementing this kind of leadership, Aaker and Joachimsthaler insist, requires a radical shift in an organization's culture, its structure, and its systems. In their densely packed but accessible book, they outline what this shift is all about, and discuss the important components of brand leadership: defining and elaborating a brand identity; designing the brand's architecture to achieve clarity, synergy, and leverage; building a brand beyond the obvious route of advertising by incorporating such aspects as sponsorship and the role of the Internet; and organizing the entire company around global brand leadership as opposed to merely the creation of a global brand. To support and demonstrate their ideas, the authors conducted hundreds of corporate case studies throughout Europe and the U.S. Inspiring and useful tales of such brand-focused and brand-recognized companies as Virgin, L.L. Bean, Nike, Adidas, and MasterCard are told in detail, and they touch on a host of other companies and brands to add texture to the lessons. As is obvious from these examples, achieving an effective brand leadership strategy requires awareness, understanding, passion, and a heck of a lot of work. But in today's enormously competitive brand environment, the rewards can be--and are--well worth the effort. Brand Leadership provides invaluable advice for anyone looking to focus and direct that effort toward a profitable and lasting result. --S. Ketchum
Dennis Carter Vice President, Intel Corporation A superb framework for dealing with the incredible complexity we brand managers face, particularly the implications of the link between the business strategy and brand, a link too often overlooked. -- Review
There's a line in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: "The meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside in the unseen, enveloping the tale which could only bring it out as a glow brings out a haze."
Brands are the same way: They draw their meaning more from their enveloping symbolism than from their "kernel," the actual product.
Long ago, of course, things were different. Commodities, the foundation of consumer culture, were only bulk goods. They sold themselves. Either you wanted a bag of cereal grain or you didn't. It was not until later that companies like
As soon as companies turned commodities into products, they started telling customers that one was better than another. Resources went into packaging and marketing. What became important was the "enveloping haze," not the "kernel." In the words of legendary branding guru Walter Landor: "Products are made in the factory but brands are made in the mind."
Today, there's little question that brands are the dominant commodities in our image-based culture. In fact, brands themselves are now a "brand," the hottest thing in business and marketing strategy.
The general consensus is that the leading "brand" in the branding field is David Aaker, professor emeritus of marketing at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Since the early 1990s, Aaker has been telling the brand story to American businesses. In Managing Brand Equity, published in 1991, he argued that brands have an intrinsic value, or equity, relative to a corporation's overall assets. Aaker expanded on this theory in 1995 with Building Strong Brands, one of the most important marketing books of the 1990s. He discussed how we can measure brand equity and analyzed how multiple brands work together to form a synergistic system, thus introducing the "brand identity" concept.
In his third installment, the recently released Brand Leadership, Aaker updates and extends his earlier work and, yes, adds a chapter on building brands on the Internet. He makes a compelling argument for the emergence of the "brand leadership" model, which he says is replacing the "classic" brand system pioneered by Procter & Gamble in the 1930s.
In the book's preface, Aaker observes that "when brand equity became the hot topic of the late 1980s, it may have seemed like another management fad that would last only a few years." As Aaker reminds us, one industry after another has discovered that brand awareness, perceived quality, customer loyalty and strong brand associations and personality are essential to compete in the marketplace.
Yet questions linger. One wonders about Aaker's own "equity" in convincing us that brands are still the dominant form of business strategy. Aside from his academic role, he also has strong connections with two large brand consulting firms - Prophet Brand Strategy and the Brand Leadership Company.
Is Brand Leadership in fact a theoretical argument more than it is an observation of a trend? In many ways, brands don't fit the Internet Economy. Aaker quotes George Fisher, CEO of Kodak: "Online gives us a way to meet customer needs unmatched since the days of the door-to-door salesman." But he conveniently forgets all the door-to-door salesmen who had doors slammed in their faces.
As more searches rely on price or auction-based exchanges, it's highly likely that a lot of brands won't make it to customers' doorsteps, let alone their doors. After all, what relevance do brand qualities - name, personality, image - have in online searches that depend primarily on price?
As Aaker himself observes, "no longer is the brand safe in splendid isolation behind guard ropes. Instead it walks among the people, a situation that presents risk and rewards in equal measure."
There is the distinct risk that, one day soon, brands will be just another face in the crowd.
John Fraim is president of the GreatHouse, a publisher and consulting firm in Santa Rosa, Calif. -- From The Industry Standard
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Don't get me wrong. The guy's a genius and the world of marketing is much the better for having him (and Joachimsthaler) around. However, in Management Communications at Business School they teach you to know your audience. There's a reason most business books are 160-220 pages. Business leaders don't have time to spend 12-15 hours reading texts. Aaker ignores this fact when offering the 330-page "Brand Leadership."
That being said it's a great book for the frameworks and approaches it provides. Aaker truly is one of the elite few that really rises above the clutter in offering marketing insights to today's manager. Unfortunately like Michael Porter with Strategy, he feels that this level of insight affords the right to pontificate beyond the attention span of most managers.
His theories on brand identity, brand architecture, and brand equity are invaluable though and for this reason the book is well worth the money and time. Particularly outstanding is the chapter on Brand Architecture which provides a stark contrast to the "focus" theories of Ries & Trout.
Chapter 6 -- Discusses Nike-Adidas market dynamics. Least interesting chapter in the book.
Chapter 7 -- Addresses sponsorships and is fairly interesting and useful for today's marketing manager. If you really enjoy Chapter's 1-5 then give 7 a go as well.
Chapter 8 -- If you recognize the names Fast Company, Business 2.0, Red Herring, or The Industry Standard, this chapter on the role of webs in building brands is not neccesary.
Chapter 9 -- Pretty good chapter on building brands beyond advertising, but only if you have a couple hours to spare. By the end of the book this chapter felt like miles 16-25 of a marathon.
Chapter 10 -- Read "The Lure of Global Brands" from the 12/99 Harvard Business Review as a substitute. More condensed and effective.
Five star (and then some) book if edited down to 200 pages.
The reason that essence (in so far as Aaker explains it) seems valuable is because it takes into account the brand's relation to those within the organisation. Authors like Nicholas Ind have also done a good job of advancing such ideas, but Aaker's approach still makes sense to me because it is simple and internal branding is not abstracted from the customer facing brand strategy.
Obviously the market has transitioned since the publication of this work, much of which relates to changing trends in social media underpinned by the internet. Nonetheless, Brand Leadership offers a solid foundation based on the well thought through research of a man who can only but be described as one of the leading thinkers in the branding world. The book also provides a good strategic method, particularly if you are trying to develop a new brand. I have found that clients who are not too familiar with brand development processes always respond favorably to the clarity that Aaker's model offers particularly since links between the business and brand strategy can be made so effectively.
Before reading Brand Leadership, I read Strategic Market Management (Strategic Market Managment). Personally I found that this book helped me understand the relationship between business and brand strategy more clearly and again it offers a clear working model.