Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant , the latest book published by noted brand authority and Haas Professor Emeritus David Aaker, was recently named one of three best marketing business books of 2011 by the influential management magazine strategy+business.
In Brand Relevance, Aaker's 15th book, Aaker argues that the only way to grow in today’s market is to develop offerings so innovative that they contain “must haves” that define new subcategories for which competitors are not considered. With rare exceptions, the typically employed “my brand is better than your brand” marketing simply no longer moves the needle, even with large budgets behind it.
Aaker describes how to identify and evaluate potential game-changing concepts, how to manage those concepts so that they win in the marketplace, and how to create barriers to competitors who might want to copy them. Numerous cases illustrate that it is not only the offering but what surrounds the offering that defines the subcategory. Examples include iPhone apps, Zipcar’s relevance to urban lifestyle choices, and Whole Foods Market’s values and personality.
The book also shows how to maintain relevance in the face of competitors’ innovations by gaining parity with the new “must haves” or by repositioning a brand and making sure the brand maintains energy and credibility.
Aaker will be speaking at Haas on Feb. 25 as part of the David Aaker Lecture Series in Marketing, which was created for him when he retired from Haas.
Aaker serves as vice chairman of Prophet, a strategic brand and marketing consultancy led by alumnus Michael Dunn, MBA/MA 94 (Asian Studies). Aaker also writes the Aaker on Brands blog and regularly blogs for the Harvard Business Review. He can be followed on Twitter at @DavidAaker.