About this title:
In this long-awaited book from the world's premier brand expert and author of the seminal work Building Strong Brands, David Aaker shows managers how to construct a brand portfolio strategy that will support a company's business strategy and create relevance, differentiation, energy, leverage, and clarity. Building on case studies of world-class brands such as Dell, Disney, Microsoft, Sony, Dove, Intel, CitiGroup, and PowerBar, Aaker demonstrates how powerful, cohesive brand strategies have enabled managers to revitalize brands, support business growth, and create discipline in confused, bloated portfolios of master brands, subbrands, endorser brands, co-brands, and brand extensions.
About the Author:
Aaker offers readers step-by-step advice on what to do when confronting scenarios such as the following:
Brands are underleveraged
The business strategy is at risk because of inadequate brand platforms
The business faces a relevance threat caused by emerging subcategories
The firm's brands are tired and bland
Strategy is paralyzed by a lack of priority among the brands
Brands are cluttered and confusing to both customers and employees
The firm needs to move into the super-premium or value arenas to create margin or sales volume
Margin pressures require points of differentiation
Renowned brand guru Aaker demonstrates that assuring that each brand in the portfolio has a clear role and actively reinforces and supports the other portfolio brands will profoundly affect the firm's profitability. Brand Portfolio Strategy is required reading not only for brand managers but for all managers with bottom-line responsibility to their shareholders.
David A. Aaker is the Vice-Chairman of Prophet, Professor Emeritus of Marketing Strategy at the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley, Advisor to Dentsu, Inc., and a recognized authority on brands and brand management. The winner of the Paul D. Converse Award for outstanding contributions to the development of the science of marketing and the Vijay Mahajan Award for Career Contributions to Marketing Strategy, he has published more than ninety articles and eleven books, including Strategic Market Management, Managing Brand Equity, Building Strong Brands, and Brand Leadership (co-authored with Eric Joachimsthaler).
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter 1: Brand Portfolio Strategy
We hire eagles and teach them to fly in formation.
-- D. Wayne Calloway, former CEO of PepsiCo
You don't get harmony when everyone sings the same note.
-- Doug Floyd
Nobody has ever bet enough on a winning horse.
-- Richard Sasuly
The Intel Case
During the 1990s, Intel achieved remarkable success in terms of increase in sales, stock return, and market capitalization. Sales of its microprocessors went from $1.2 billion in 1989 to more than $33 billion in 2000. Its market capitalization grew to more than $400 billion in just over thirty years. Intel's ability and willingness to reinvent its product line again and again -- making obsolete business areas in which it had big investments -- certainly played a key role in its success. Its operational excellence in creating complex new products with breathtaking speed and operating microprocessor fabrication plants efficiently and effectively was also critical.
Intel's brand portfolio strategy, however, played a critical role as well. And this brand portfolio strategy could not have emerged without the brilliance of Dennis Carter, Intel's marketing guru during the 1990s, and the support of Andy Grove at the very top of the organization. Few organizations, particularly in the high-tech sector, are blessed with such assets.
Intel's brand story really starts in 1978, when it created the 8086 microprocessor chip, which won IBM's approval to power its first personal computer. The Intel chip and its subsequent generations (the 286 in 1982, the 386 in 1985, and the 486 in 1989) defined the industry standard and was the dominant brand.
In early 1991, Intel was facing pressure from competitors exploiting the fact that Intel failed to obtain trademark protection on the X86 series. These firms created confusion by calling their "clone" products names like the AMD386, implying that they were as effective as any other 386-powered PC.
To respond to this business challenge, Intel in the spring of 1991 began a remarkable ingredient-branding program ("Intel Inside"), with an initial budget of around $100 million. This decision was very controversial within Intel -- such a large sum of money could have been used for R&D, and many argued that brand building was irrelevant for a firm that only sold its products to a handful of computer manufacturers. Within a relatively short time, however, the Intel Inside logo became ubiquitous, and the program became an incredible success. The logo, shown in Figure 1-1, has a light, personal touch, as if someone wrote it on an informal note -- a sharp departure from the formal corporate logo (Intel with a dropped e).
The Intel Inside program involved a tightly controlled partnership between Intel and computer manufacturers. Each partner received a 6 percent rebate on its purchases of Intel microprocessors, which was deposited into a market development fund that paid for up to 50 percent of the partner's advertising. (To qualify, the advertising needed to pass certain tests, the main one being to present the Intel Inside logo correctly on product and in the ad.) Computer partners were required to create subbrands for products using a competing microprocessor so buyers would realize that they were buying a computer without Intel Inside. Although the program became expensive -- its structure caused the budget to grow to well over $1 billion per year as sales rose -- it also created a huge differential advantage over competitors trying to make inroads with computer manufacturers.
The bottom line was that for many years, "Intel Inside" meant a roughly 10 percent premium on the sales price of a computer featuring the logo. Because of the exposure of the branding program, Intel was given credit for creating products that were reliable, compatible with software products, and innovative, and for being an organization of substance and leadership. All this happened even though most computer users had no idea what a microprocessor was or why Intel's were better.
There were important secondary benefits. The Intel Inside program caused advertising for computers to explode. Ironically, advertising agencies, at first unhappy having their artistry compromised by foreign logos, became creatively flexible when they realized that advertising billings were going to skyrocket. In addition, the computer partner firms became attached to the advertising allowance; in fact, with margins squeezed, they had a hard time competing without it. The program thus became a significant loyalty incentive for Intel. "Intel Inside" became one of the most important brands in their portfolio.
In the fall of 1992, Intel was ready to announce the successor to the 486 chip in the face of increasing competitor confusion, even given the Intel Inside campaign. A huge decision loomed. Should the successor be called Intel 586, thereby leveraging the Intel Inside brand and providing a familiar and logical roadmap to customers who had adapted the X86 progression? Or should it be given a new name, such as Pentium? It was a very difficult decision.
Four key issues guided the decision to develop the Pentium brand. First, despite the success of the Intel Inside program, the basic confusion issue would remain if the product was named Intel 586, thanks to market entries such as AMD586. Second, the cost of creating a new brand and transitioning customers to it, although huge, was within the capacity and will of Intel -- few new products in any industry are so blessed. The fact that a new brand had news value would make the job easier. Third, the Intel Inside equity and program, rather than being wasted, could be leveraged by linking the two brands. A visual presentation of the Pentium brand was integrated into the Intel Inside logo, as shown in Figure 1-1; in essence the Intel Inside brand became an endorser for the Pentium brand. Finally, the new product was judged to be substantive enough to justify a new name, even though a new name for every future generation would ultimately be costly and confusing. Because a costly new fabrication plant needed healthy initial demand to pay off, one motivation for the new brand was to signal to customers that the new generation was worth an upgrade.
Intel subsequently developed an improvement to the Pentium that provided superior graphic capability. Rather than naming the chip a Pentium II, or giving it an entirely new name, the branded technology name MMX was added to the Pentium brand (the graphical representation is shown in Figure 1-1). The Pentium brand would thus have more time to repay its investment, and a new-generation impact could be reserved for a time in which the advance was more substantial. Later generations did emerge, leveraging the Pentium brand and equity with names like Pentium Pro (1995), Pentium II (1997), Pentium III (1999), and Pentium 4 (2000). The advent of the Pentium 4 ushered in a new visual design (shown in Figure 1-1) to emphasize its newness and to provide a look that suggested substance, reliability, and quality.
Clearly, a crucial, ongoing brand portfolio strategy issue is how to use branding to identify product improvements. When the improvements are minor or involve corrections of prior mistakes, then it is not appropriate or worthwhile to signal a change. When the improvements are significant, the choice lies between a branded feature (like MMX), a new generation (like Pentium III), or a totally new brand (like the replacement of the X86 series with Pentium). The communication cost, the risk of freezing sales of the existing brand, and the degree of preempting the news value of future technological developments will all depend on which of the three brand signals is used.
In 1998 Intel decided that it needed to participate in the market for mid-range and higher servers and workstations. To address this market, Intel developed features that allowed four or eight processors to be linked to supply the power needed for these higher-end machines. A branding issue then arose. On one hand, the Pentium brand was strongly associated with lower-end personal computers for homes as well as businesses, and as such it would not be regarded as suitable for servers and workstations. On the other hand, the market would not support developing yet another standalone brand alongside Intel Inside and Pentium. The solution was to introduce a subbrand, the Pentium II Xeon. The subbrand distanced the new microprocessor enough from Pentium to make it palatable for the higher-end users. It had the secondary advantage of enhancing the Pentium brand. Another practical consideration was that the use of the Xeon name by itself had some trademark complications that disappeared when it was merged with the Pentium II name.
In 1999 another problem -- or opportunity -- emerged. As the PC market matured, a value segment emerged, led by some Intel competitors eager to find a niche and willing to undercut the price points of the premium microprocessor business. Intel needed to compete in this market, if only defensively, but using the Pentium brand (even with a subbrand) would have been extremely risky. The solution was a stand-alone brand, Celeron, that was not directly linked to Pentium (as Figure 1-1 shows). The brand-building budget, like that of many value brands, was minimal: the target market found the brand, rather than the other way around.
A decision was made to link the Celeron to Intel Inside, so there was an indirect link to Pentium. The trade-off was the need for the Intel endorsement to provide credibility to Celeron, versus the need to protect the Pentium brand from the image tarnishment of the lower-end entry.
In 2001, the Intel Xeon processor was introduced with the logo shown in Figure 1-1. Several factors combined to allow the subbrand to step out from behind the Pentium brand. Technological advances such as NetBurst architecture rather dramatically improved the processor's power, and now that the Xeon brand had been established it was thus more feasible to support it as a stand-alone brand (the initial trademark issues over the use of the brand name had been resolved). Finally, the target market became even more important to Intel, and having a brand devoted to it became a strategic imperative.
That same year, the Itanium processor was introduced as a successor to the Pentium series. Why not call it the Pentium 5? The processor had been built from the ground up with an entirely new architecture, with 64-bit power (as opposed to the 32-bit Pentiums) based on a branded design termed Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC). Capable of delivering a new level of performance for high-end enterprise-class servers, a new name was needed to signal that this processor was qualitatively different than the Pentium. The logo for the second generation of Itanium is shown in Figure 1-1.
In 2003, Intel introduced the Intel Centrino mobile technology, which provided laptops with enhanced performance, extended battery life, integrated wireless connectivity, and thinner, lighter designs. Its promise is to fundamentally affect personal lifestyles and business productively by enabling people to unconnect, to "Unwire Your Life." The new Centrino logo (shown in Figure 1-1) reflects the Intel vision of the convergence of communication and computing, and it also represented a new approach to product development. Rather than simply pushing the performance envelope, for this product Intel responded to real customer needs as determined by market research.
The most dramatic element of the Centrino logo is its shape, a sharp departure from the rectangular design family that preceded it. The two wings suggest a merger of technology and lifestyle, a forward-looking perspective, and the freedom to go where you will. The magenta color used for the Centrino wings balances the Intel blue and visually provides energy and excitement while suggesting a connection between technology and passion, logic and emotions. The Intel Inside logo has evolved as well. More precise, sophisticated, and confident, it now provides a link to the classic dropped- e Intel corporate logo and reflects a world in which the positives of the corporate connection and the loyalty program can be dialed up.
Intel used its brand name to enter other business areas. One of the most important was in the communications sector. A branding problem common to any firm with a strong well-defined brand is that it is confining; Intel is so closely associated with microprocessors and Pentium that creating credibility in other areas can be a challenge. Subbrands and branded components can help combat this problem. Intel operates an important segment of its business under the brand Intel Network Processor, with the Intel Inside brand nowhere to be found. In addition branded components such as the Intel Xscale microarchitecture processor (which provides the ability to tailor a general-purpose processor to specific tasks, avoiding the need for special-purpose processors) are developed.
Intel over the years has purchased many firms, and in each case it has had to make judgments about what to do with the brands that accompanied those firms. Retaining the brands in their present roles would capitalize on their equity and the customer relationships that they represented, while dropping them would allow for transferring the business areas to the Intel brand or one of the brands in the Intel portfolio. Finally, another role could be found for the brands, perhaps as a subbrand for a defined segment or as a value brand.
For example, in 1999 Intel bought Dialogic, a company providing building blocks relevant to the converging Internet and telecommunication markets. The new organization was initially "Dialogic, an Intel company," but then changed to become a product brand within the Intel Communication Systems Products organization (for example, Intel Dialogic Boards).
It is clear that a host of critical brand portfolio decisions were made at Intel. New brands enabled the firm to address competitive threats and enter new markets. The relationships between brands were particularly important in defining new and transitioning business arenas, while the umbrella Intel Inside brand provided an essential synergetic force in the portfolio. Many of the branding decisions were difficult and internally controversial. But again and again, the portfolio structure reflected and enabled the business strategy, thereby enhancing the firm's chance to succeed. At times, it influenced the market environment and actually defined product categories. In doing so, Intel's effort to position itself as a differentiated leader brand was enhanced.
Too often, the implicit assumption is made that brand strategy involves the creation and management of a strong brand like HP, Viao, 3M, Ford, or Tide. Yet virtually all firms face the portfolio challenges created by multiple brands. Intel, for example, has a host of important brands, including Intel Inside, Pentium, Xeon, Centrino, Xscale, and Dialogic. For too many firms, the management of their portfolio is often deficient or nonexistent, despite the fact that there is often a huge competitive upside to getting it done better.
There are at least five reasons why understanding and managing the brand portfolio can be a key to both the development of a winning business strategy and its successful implementation. First, a portfolio in which each brand executes a...
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