Establishing clarity in a brand portfolio for a large business can be a real challenge. The approach the Aaker uses, while it may be jargony, is excellent as a source to ensure that each brand sits at the appropriate place in the hierarchy and has a role that's clear.
I keep on my desk as a constant reference. Yes, that's a little weird, but there you are.
The online availability and accessibility of products has commoditized almost every offering or service imaginable. This global phenomenon makes it increasingly necessary for companies to differentiate their products through branding. Although branding expert David A. Aaker wrote this classic book in 2004, its premises are still relevant. Aaker's treatment of the complexities of brand portfolio management, while somewhat dry, is easy to follow and assimilate. In his fourth guide to brand portfolio management, he deftly uses case studies by brand powerhouses such as Disney, General Electric and Toyota to underscore the crucial issues facing brand strategists. While most solid marketing or branding books offer kindred messages, getAbstract considers Aaker's work an essential read for anyone in marketing and brand management. Study it, and post his "Brand Portfolio Strategy" chart and "20 Takeaways" where you can refer to them often.
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.
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.) I appreciate the fact that Aaker illustrates each of his core concepts by examining various corporations' successes and failures with a brand portfolio strategy, notably Intel, Disney, Microsoft, Citigroup, SONY, Dove, GE Appliances, Dell, and Unilever. After having read the previous sentence, decision-makers in small-to-midsize companies may conclude that the brand portfolio strategy offers little (if any) value to them. That would be a mistake and I apologize if I inadvertently encourage anyone to reach that conclusion. Aaker's quotation of a remark by Frank Lloyd Wright seems (to me) relevant both to the brand portfolio and to almost every organization, regardless of size of nature: "Always design [or redesign] a thing by considering it in its next larger context -- a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, and environment in a city plan." That is as true for a family-owned automotive repair shop as it is for General Motors. One of this book's several value-added benefits consists of dozens of quotations such as Wright's which provide Aaker's narrative with tasty seasoning while helping him to clarify his key points. Here are some other quotations which I especially appreciate: "Beware of all enterprises which require new clothes." Henry David Thoreau "Plans are nothing, planning is everything." Dwight Eisenhower (Eisenhower's observation reminded me of a Hebrew aphorism: "Man plans and then God howls with laughter.") "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Alan Kay "You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only one who does what you do." Jerry Garcia Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations really do need to position themselves so as to be perceived in the marketplace as having relevance, differentiation, energy, leverage, and clarity. In this brilliant book, Aaker explains HOW to accomplish that. Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Harvard Business Review on Brand Management, Kaplan and Norton's The Strategy-Focused Organization, Godin's The Purple Cow, Finzel's Change Is Like a Slinky.
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I used Aaker's works since the Brand Equity (1991) to Brand Portfolio Strategy (2004) for the research of international marketing for cutting-edge technology in Taiwan. The brand portfilio strategy has made it an iconic and epic art of brand. I has known Aaker's works from the numerous citations in the leading papers of Journal of Marketing. Aaker's prophetic thinking is down-to-eatrh practical and always updated, with a central belief in pragmatic art of brand. The epilogue at the end of this book and the quotations in the beginning of each chapter is quite heuristic and humerous. Indeed, it is a "must-read" of marketing researchers and practitioners from cover to cover without dust bunny.