Brad VanAuken

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, […]

Tell-tale Signs that Your Brand Consultant is Inept

by Brad VanAuken

The problem with any industry is that it includes some inept practitioners. The marketing industry is no exception to this. If you have retained a marketing research firm, brand consultant, marketing agency, brand identity firm or other outside expert that displays any of the following, reconsider using that entity or individual for brand strategy work:They […]

When a Brand’s Problem is Not a Marketing Problem

by Brad VanAuken

Occasionally, I have encountered brand problems that are not marketing problems. As we conduct brand equity research for companies, we discover that the problem is not with the brand’s promise, nor is it with the marketing communication. In fact, it is not with any of the typical brand equity dimensions (such as awareness and relevant […]

Businesses, Brands & Human Needs

by Brad VanAuken

The primary purpose of a business is to make money, right? And shareholders are a business’ most important stakeholder, right? And the marketing and sales functions exist to generate additional revenues, right? So, ultimately brands exist to increase sales and profits, right?Partially right, but it is always important to remember that any business, in fact, […]

Brand SWOT Analysis

by Brad VanAuken

Do you fully understand all of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses? Do you understand its opportunities and threats including its brand positioning opportunities and threats? Do you know how to optimize its positioning? Have you identified your brand’s critical vulnerabilities? Do you know what you need to do to take your brand to the next […]

The Reemergence of Authenticity

by Brad VanAuken

I am making a prediction. In the age of “false news” and “alternative facts,” more and more people will grow weary of being lied to. While the Internet and instantaneous global communication enables people to easily create unverified and uncorroborated “stories” and “news,” it also enables the truth to eventually come out on almost everything. […]

The Reemergence of Authenticity

by Brad VanAuken

I am making a prediction. In the age of “false news” and “alternative facts,” more and more people will grow weary of being lied to. While the Internet and instantaneous global communication enables people to easily create unverified and uncorroborated “stories” and “news,” it also enables the truth to eventually come out on almost everything. […]

Key Brand Management & Marketing Decisions

by Brad VanAuken

Decisions, decisions, decisions. What are the most important ones for brand managers? It depends on the scope of the job function within your organization, but here are the typical important decisions:Who are the brand’s target customers?What are the different customer segments and why have we created those segments?What is the brand’s competitive frame of reference? What […]

Global Branding and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

by Brad VanAuken

As a marketer, you are likely quite familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  If you are not, please read this blog post first.I have spent time in a number of countries on different continents training brand managers and helping them build their brands. In the process of doing this, I have noticed that different types […]

Branding in Highly Competitive Categories

by Brad VanAuken

Today, almost every category is a crowded category. Whether I am working with company, product, service, university, municipality or personal brands, it seems as though the majority of competitors are choosing to say the same things about themselves within their categories, rendering all of them undifferentiated. This is because most every category is mature and […]

Choosing the Right Competitive Frame of Reference

by Brad VanAuken

It is more important to choose an appropriate competitive frame of reference for your brand than you might think. The competitive frame of reference has significant implications for competitive strategy, brand strategy and brand positioning. And it has significant implications for brand research, including brand equity research.As I am in the midst of conducting a […]