Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant By David A. Aaker

Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant

Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant By David A. Aaker

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Product Description

Branding guru Aaker shows how to eliminate the competition and become the lead brand in your market

This ground-breaking book defines the concept of brand relevance using dozens of case studies-Prius, Whole Foods, Westin, iPad and more-and explains how brand relevance drives market dynamics, which generates opportunities for your brand and threats for the competition. Aaker reveals how these companies have made other brands in their categories irrelevant. Key points: When managing a new category of product, treat it as if it were a brand; By failing to produce what customers want or losing momentum and visibility, your brand becomes irrelevant; and create barriers to competitors by supporting innovation at every level of the organization.

  • Using dozens of case studies, shows how to create or dominate new categories or subcategories, making competitors irrelevant
  • Shows how to manage the new category or subcategory as if it were a brand and how to create barriers to competitors
  • Describes the threat of becoming irrelevant by failing to make what customer are buying or losing energy
  • David Aaker, the author of four brand books, has been called the father of branding

This book offers insight for creating and/or owning a new business arena. Instead of being the best, the goal is to be the only brand around-making competitors irrelevant.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #64252 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-01-25
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 1.42" h x 6.39" w x 9.08" l, 1.34 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 400 pages
Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Brand guru Aaker (Building Strong Brands) explains how companies can keep their brand relevant through innovation and the creation of new categories or subcategories that they can "own" in the minds of consumers. While plenty of books emphasize the need for constant innovation, Aaker dives deeper; customers determine brand relevance and companies as diverse as Japanese beer maker Asahi, Xerox, IKEA, Zappos, and Apple have each carved out a unique market niche, a niche that must be protected through the creation of barriers for competitors, Aaker argues. Postmortem evaluations of epic failures like the Segway, Nabisco's Snackwells product line, and Apple's Newton digital assistant will help brand managers avoid costly and high-profile marketing missteps. Those familiar with the author's work will recognize his textbook approach. His clear prose and honest assessments will resonate with small business owners or brand managers and should be required reading for anyone with a vested interest in keeping their company on the tip of their consumers' tongues. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap
This ground-breaking book clearly defines the concept of brand relevance and shows what it takes to channel innovation and manage the competitive arena so that competition is reduced or eliminated.

Throughout the book, branding guru David Aaker explains how brand relevance drives market dynamics using dozens of illustrative case studies involving brands such as Asahi Beer, Prius, Whole Foods Market, Hyundai, Zappos, Wheaties Fuel, Zipcar, Muji, Cafe Steamers, GE,, and Apple. He reveals how brand teams have turned away from destructive brand preference competition by making other brands irrelevant.

Adopting Aaker's brand relevance model—in which innovative offerings form categories and subcategories—provides dramatic opportunities for brand teams with insight and the ability to lead the market. As Aaker explains, successful brand relevance competition involves four vital tasks: concept generation, concept evaluation, creating barriers to the competition and, critically, actively defining and managing the new category or subcategory. It also involves being on top of the market, the competition, and the technology so that they get the timing right, a crucial element of a successful brand relevance strategy.

Brand relevance is a threat as well as an opportunity to firms facing dynamic markets. Aaker shows how to avoid having a brand go into decline because people no longer consider it relevant.

Brands that can create and manage new categories or subcategories making competitors irrelevant will prosper while others will be mired in debilitating marketplace battles or will be losing relevance and market position.

From the Back Cover
Praise for Brand Relevance

"Aaker has nailed it (again)! The long-term viability of a business is inextricably linked to gaining a brand relevance advantage through new category and subcategory development and unique positioning."
Joe Tripodi, chief marketing and commercial officer, Coca-Cola

"Most of our work as brand builders is reactionary, chasing each other's ideas. The result is a marketplace of sameness. David Aaker gives us fresh principles and real ideas to change that, to be truly innovative, to raise our game."
Jim Stengel, former chief marketing officer, P&G

"Aaker has hit the nail on the head with Brand Relevance. You've gotta take the leap or risk getting left behind."
Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer, Adobe

"Brand Relevance shows how finding a higher purpose, a characteristic of great companies, can affect which brands customers perceive as relevant."
Tony Hsieh, author, Delivering Happiness and chief executive officer,, Inc.

"Loaded with powerful examples, David Aaker's Brand Relevance book brings brand insight to the process of innovation."
Ian R. Friendly, executive vice president, General Mills

"Clarity jumps off the first pages—it's less about the brand-preference battle than the brand-relevance war. And clarity continues as he presents a disciplined process leading to relevance wins and shows how to make innovation pay-off in the marketplace."
Richard K. Lyons, dean, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

"Staying the course with familiar approaches to building brand preference risks the likelihood of being made irrelevant by those who jump on Aaker's brand relevance lessons and find new growth paths."
Meredith Callanan, vice president corporate marketing and communication, T. Rowe Price

"A 'wake-up call' for a market leader because if the relevance game is lost so is its market position."
Joseph K. Gross, executive vice president, Allianz SE

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
5How to innovate to stay ahead
By John Gibbs
Success in business is not about winning the brand preference battle so much as the brand relevance war with an innovative offering that achieves sustainable differentiation by creating a new category or subcategory, according to David Aaker in this book. Conversely, brands often decline, not because they have lost their ability to deliver or the loyalty of their customers, but because they have become less relevant.

The book goes on to describe numerous examples of companies which have gained substantial competitive advantages by creating in the minds of potential customers a new category or subcategory of product. Examples from the field of retailing include Muji, IKEA, Zara, H&M, Best Buy, Whole Foods Market, Subway and Zappos. Examples from the automobile industry include the Toyota Prius, the Saturn, the Chrysler minivan, the Tata Nano, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Zipcar.

Creating brand relevance is a matter of framing new categories and sub-categories and influencing customers' perspectives by creating mental associations. To create new categories, an organization must be involved in finding concepts, evaluating them, using them to define new categories, and creating barriers for competitors. All is not lost if a company finds itself becoming irrelevant; the author gives plenty of examples of companies which have recovered relevance through renewed innovation.

There are numerous other books available which discuss the importance of differentiation, but none describe it quite in the same way as the present author does. Differentiation is important, but a key aspect of business success lies in communicating the differences to the target market in such a way as to excite ongoing interest. This book is a bit longer than I would have liked, but the author's advice and conclusions seem to be very pertinent.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
52011 Best Business Book
By Strategy And Business Magazine
The first thing a reader notices about Brand Relevance is how many of today's power brands have already made good on its central concept: Brand preference has long ceased to be a powerful driver of marketing success. Brand success, therefore, requires something more. That something, according to David Aaker, now vice chairman of Prophet, a marketing consulting firm, "is to redefine the market in such a way that the competitor is irrelevant or less relevant, possibly by making the competitor's strengths actually become weaknesses." This requires creating brand relevance by carving out a new category or subcategory for your offering that has these key characteristics: a weak or nonexistent competitor set, a distinctive definition, a value proposition, a loyal customer base, and, perhaps most importantly, barriers to competition.

In defining the characteristics that enable some brands to surge past others, Aaker brings an academic's eye to the question of why some brands transcend their markets, and the result is a book thick with examples and lessons. One of the prime examples that Aaker uses to describe brand relevance is, of course, Apple Inc., particularly its roster of "i" products. Not only are they great products in and of themselves, he writes, but they also create substantial barriers to entry that keep other brands from competing directly. Nowadays, there are plenty of smartphones besides the iPhone, MP3 players besides the iPod, and tablets besides the iPad, but Apple's products are also part of the larger iTunes ecosystem of audio, video, and apps. That's quite a barrier. As Aaker points out, each Apple innovation also builds on existing ones, to make the company a "moving target," which is a core component of ensuring that a brand is continually relevant.

Aaker also writes extensively about other breakout brands, such as Toyota's Prius, but many of his example products are decidedly more prosaic. If you market toothpaste, you will be able to read this book and get ideas for how to break out of the mold. (In fact, Aaker devotes specific attention to the toothpaste category.)

Additionally, the book offers a comprehensive look at the kinds of factors that can make a brand relevant, which sometimes means looking at an established category such as car rentals in an entirely new way. Aaker cites Zipcar Inc., whose founders recognized that sharing a car makes more sense than owning one for some people, as probably the brightest example of the brand relevance concept.

Started in 2000 in Boston, Zipcar had 350,000 members and 6,500 vehicles by 2010, focused mainly in urban centers and on college campuses. Members can reserve cars minutes before they need them, anytime, day or night. Although Aaker points out that the rest of the industry has responded by developing "more flexible" ways to rent, Zipcar has maintained its relevance not only because of its service, but because "rather than being about renting cars, [Zipcar is] about urban life and the freedom of not owning and maintaining a car but still having access to one. In that spirit it provides a way to cope with urban living in a fun, upbeat, and environmentally sensitive way." It's hard to see how an Avis or a Hertz could capture the same magic, even if it had programs that offered identical benefits.

Other ways that brands can be relevant include providing a unique customer experience (Starbucks), being a brand that offers "over-the-top service" (Zappos), and, in an unintended tip of the hat to We First, aligning themselves with some greater good.

It's clear from these examples that the ability to make brands relevant involves much more than the marketing department. Thus, Aaker devotes the book's last chapter to dissecting cultures of innovation, such as General Electric's. Among other initiatives, the company inaugurated an Imagination Breakthrough program in 2003, which charges every GE business with proposing new products and services that could make $100 million within three to five years. "The rude fact is that not all organizations allow ideas to emerge, nurture those ideas, and implement them in the marketplace," he explains. Brand relevance may be a relatively simple concept; building it is not.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
5If your "brand" isn't relevant, neither are you and your company
By Robert Morris

Those who have read any of David Aaker's previous books already know that he presents information, insights, and counsel that are anchored in specific real-world circumstances within a broad and deep frame-of-reference. Brand Relevance is no exception. On the contrary, I think it is his most important, his most valuable book thus far. In Reality Check, Guy Kawasaki shares everything he has learned thus far about how to (and how not to) "outsmart, outmanage, and outmarket your competition." In his latest book, Aaker shares everything he has learned thus far about how to (and how not to) "drive change through innovations that will create new categories and subcategories - making competitors less relevant -[so that] other firms can recognize the emergence of these new categories and subcategories and adapt to them."

As he explains, the way for a firm to get on top of its strategies in a time of change is to achieve these four strategic objectives: (1) Complete and then follow a process by which to create new categories and subcategories that make competitors irrelevant; (2) Apply the brand relevance concept to the given circumstances and leverage its power as a way to drive and understand dynamic markets, (3) understand how and why brand relevance can be diminished or lost as well as how and why to avoid or replenish that loss; and (4), understand and develop or strengthen the characteristics it must have "to support substantial or transformational innovation that will lead to new categories or subcategories."

Aaker identifies with meticulous care the "what" of these and other strategic objectives, then devotes the bulk of his attention to explaining how to achieve them. To support his results-driven approach, he makes brilliant use of 25 mini-case studies of a remarkably diverse range of companies that include IKEA, Best Buy, Whole Foods Market, Zappos, Zipcar, Apple, Segway's Human Transporter,, and Walmart. As these and other exemplars have clearly demonstrated, companies are most relevant when their clients depend on them to help them be most relevant to their own clients. Here in a single source is about all the information, insights, and counsel any C-level executives need to ensure that their companies gain and then sustain brand preference and thereby make their competitors irrelevant.


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