Brad VanAuken

Brands & Tribalism

by Brad VanAuken

As in the television program, Cheers, everyone wants to belong somewhere.  Everyone wants to call some place home. Nuclear and extended families have always been tribes. Often, churches are tribes. Some times, towns are tribes. Schools can be tribes. Increasingly, political parties are tribes. Is your state a blue state or red state? You may […]

What’s Your Brand’s Buzz?

by Brad VanAuken

A brand is owned in the minds of its customers. So, what is your brand in their minds? Do you know?  If not, do you know where to go to find out? You can always use marketing research, but today, the Internet provides an unfiltered ongoing look into your customer’s minds. And it is as […]

Peeling Back the Onion

by Brad VanAuken

Sometimes, in brand research, one must continue to “peel back the onion” to better understand what the consumer is really saying. Recently, a client of mine (a heath care system) discovered that it was delivering well against convenience and accessibility. They discovered this through a quantitative brand equity measurement survey. Multiple data points pointed to […]

Determining the Current Brand Position

by Brad VanAuken

One of the first steps in a brand repositioning project is to determine the current brand position. While this is often done through a brand audit in which the brand’s website and its collateral materials are studied along with those of its competitors, this only identifies what the brand in question and its competitors are […]

The Importance of Brand Planning

by Brad VanAuken

“If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going, You Will Probably End Up Somewhere Else” – book title by author David Campbell.Hopefully, you have developed and are executing against a detailed brand plan. And hopefully, you are measuring the results against that plan. Brand plans are much like business plans or marketing plans. You start with […]

Twenty Brand Management Tips

by Brad VanAuken

Today, I am sharing twenty tips or “rules of thumb” about brands and brand management.The only thing that stands between a commodity and a brand is relevant differentiation.More than anything, your brand must be admirable. And, if not admirable, likable. In the long run, a strong brand will not completely compensate for a faulty product or […]

Brands, Mystery & Exclusivity

by Brad VanAuken

Mystery and exclusivity are two very powerful human motivators. Let’s take one at a time.A partial reveal is always more powerful than a full reveal. And the more often one is exposed to the partial reveal, the more one craves the full reveal. It’s human nature. Whether it is in a new product unveiling or […]

Brands & Risk Taking

by Brad VanAuken

Sometimes a brand’s worst enemy is its risk adverse caretaker. Usually, to break through in an overcrowded marketplace, a brand has to take some risks and do things that other brands in the category are not doing. My biggest disappointment as a brand strategy consultant is when, through rigorous research and out-of-the-box thinking, we help a […]

Customer Profiling

by Brad VanAuken

Customer profiling helps organizations identify and then effectively target the most lucrative customer segments including how to best reach them in the shopping process and what brand messages are likely to work best with them. We help organizations profile their customers in actionable ways. First, we measure brand purchase intent. We then discover the values, […]

Things that Marketers Know

by Brad VanAuken

Having worked with many non-marketers in organization leadership teams, it has occurred to me that many things that I think are “common sense” are not so common for non-marketers. That is to say that skilled marketers are intuitive about some things that non-marketers are not. Here is my list of things that skilled marketers just […]

Brands & Crisis Management

by Brad VanAuken

Although all organizations intend to create the best possible customer experiences, occasionally something real or perceived happens that produces just the opposite effect: a crisis. Every brand will experience a crisis at one time or another. The hallmark of a strong brand is how well it handles those crises. The crisis could come as a […]

Brand Aid

by Brad VanAuken

Since it was first published in 2001, Brand Aid has sold more than 20,000 copies. Now in its second edition, it is available in digital and audio formats and has been translated into several languages. It is used by business schools around the globe to teach brand management and marketing. Here is what people are […]

Customer-Centric Brand Strategy

by Brad VanAuken

Too many companies still think of marketing as the thing to do to sell more products. The products are a given and marketing plans are created and executed to sell more of the products the company produces. In this way, marketing is a tactical afterthought. But what if the purpose of the company was to meet […]

What Do Brands Signal About You?

by Brad VanAuken

Regardless of product or service category, brands signal something about you. Consider the shirt that you wear. If you are wearing a Carhartt shirt, what does that say about you? Do you live in a large city or out in the country? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you pursue physical activity […]

Are Brands Even Real?

by Brad VanAuken

Let’s take a step back and think about it. What are brands anyway? Aren’t they this kind of fuzzy idea that no one can define perfectly? Does labeling something a brand make it a brand?When I think about brands, it’s about attaching labels and identities to things and imbuing them with human qualities. But isn’t […]

Honing Your Marketing Skills

by Brad VanAuken

In addition to consulting with a wide variety of organizations regarding brand strategy, I also have served as an adjunct faculty member in the marketing departments at two different business schools, guest lectured at dozens of business schools, conducted “brand camps” at other business schools and helped MBA students at different business schools develop their […]

Six Approaches to Brand Positioning

by Brad VanAuken

Brand positioning is perhaps the most important task in brand management. Ideally, it should drive everything else. Brand positioning is part art and part science. I like to inform the exercise by in-depth research including qualitative customer benefit exploration, brand equity measurement, brand benefit importance/delivery mapping and brand position testing. Having said that, intuition and […]

Promoting Category Benefits

by Brad VanAuken

Usually the brand that has the most to gain by promoting category benefits is the market share leader. For instance, as market share leader, Hallmark had the most to gain by promoting the benefits of sending greeting cards. However, over time, I have come to realize that many brands would benefit from promoting category benefits. While […]

Brands & System Design

by Brad VanAuken

How many times has a brand’s computerized system made you frustrated or angry? Have you ever had to enter your user name and password more than once to get what you wanted either online or via the telephone? Have you been offered a price discount as a valued customer only not to receive it because […]

Brand Associations

by Brad VanAuken

To really understand brands you need to understand what people most often associate with those brands. It is from these associations that a viable brand position could emerge. The best way to identify these associations is through specific exercises often used in qualitative research designed specifically to identify these associations – collages, ideation, metaphorical thinking, […]