Brad VanAuken

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 […]

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

by Brad VanAuken

Organizations of all types contact us when they need help with their brands. Often, we work with very strong brands that want to improve their marketplace positions. At other times, we work with brands that may have lost their edge or even their way over time, either because they had become complacent or because of […]

The Quick Brand Health Assessment

by Brad VanAuken

You know your brand is winning in the marketplace when:The brand is mentioned to customers and potential customers, and they brim with enthusiasm in their response.Your brand’ s external messages “ring true” with all employees.Employees are enthusiastic and consistent in recounting what makes their brand special.The brand’s market share is increasing.Competitors always mention your brand […]

Bed Bath & Beyond – A Simple Marketing Tactic

by Brad VanAuken

As we approach mid-summer, retailers have begun merchandising back-to-school items (always a depressing thing to me because it reminds me of the fleeting nature of the summer months). Bed Bath & Beyond is no exception to this practice. My wife arrived home yesterday with a “School Information Document” for the University of Rochester that she […]

Online Brand Management & Marketing Resources

by Brad VanAuken

ONLINE BRAND MANAGEMENT RESOURCESwww.brandingstrategysource.com—Branding Strategy Source provides practical information on brand research, strategy and positioning. It also covers brand equity measurement, brand architecture, brand extension and other brand management concepts.www.clickz.com—Marketing news and expert advice, with a comprehensive archive of articles on all aspects of marketing.www.iab.net—The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media […]

What Really Matters in Building Strong Brands?

by Brad VanAuken

So what’s the bottom line? What really matters in building strong brands? This is what matters:Creating an interesting and memorable identity and consistently presenting it over timeGaining deep customer insight through market researchOwning a benefit that really mattersStanding for something admirable or importantCreating a compelling brand storyMaximizing brand presence (through communication and distribution)Promoting brand buzzAnticipating customer […]

Personal Branding

by Brad VanAuken

My favorite definition of a brand is “the personification of an organization or its products and services.” In this way, the brand can hold a certain set of values, stand for something, have a personality and make promises. It can also connect emotionally with its customers and its other audiences. That is why the notion of […]

Understanding the Competition

by Brad VanAuken

WHEN A COMPANY positions its brand in a customer’s mind, it is positioning that brand against other brands. It is critical to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each of those competitors along with the industry structure itself. (In fact, wise organizations dedicate a person to understanding the competition.)Important sources of competitive information include:Competitor […]

The Most Pressing Brand Management Issues

by Brad VanAuken

Since November 2016, we have fielded a continuously running survey of marketers’ most pressing brand management and marketing issues. Specifically, we asked marketers to indicate how important each of 29 different marketing issues were to them and how easily they could address these issues internally or with external resources. The respondents represented a wide variety of […]

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