y book Managing Brand Equity, also published by The Free Press, set forth the perspective that a brand is a strategic asset that is key to long-term performance and should be so managed. That book helped to explain what brand equity is and how it contributes value. A brand equity structure was developed that included the four dimensions of awareness, perceived quality, loyalty, and associations. That book also discussed the role of the brand name and its symbols, explored issues surrounding brand extension decisions, and reviewed global brand strategies.
Since the time that Managing Brand Equity appeared, I have been involved, through my research and consulting, in several areas that were not addressed in any detail in that book. With the encouragement of Bob Wallace, my Free Press publisher, it seemed that a sequel was in order to explore these new issues.
There are five major themes to Building Strong Brands. First, the book delves into what brand identity is and how it can be developed. While a brand image is how a brand is perceived, a brand identity is aspirational—how the brand would like to be perceived. A common pitfall when creating brand identities is to focus on product-related brand characteristics. In this book, brand strategists are encouraged to break out of that box by considering emotional and self-expressive benefits, organizational attributes, brand personality, and brand symbols as well. In taking the broader view of the brand, the likelihood of creating real differentiating value is enhanced.
The second theme, managing the brand identity, involves developing a brand position (that part of the identity which is to be actively communicated) and an execution program. It also involves balancing the need to adapt to a changing environment with the power of consistent messages and symbols. There are powerful forces for change that sometimes should be resisted.
The third theme, centered around the concept of a brand system, adds a new dimension to the management of brands. A brand system—consisting of intertwined and overlapping brands and sub-brands—can create clarity and synergies, or it can generate confusion and inconsistency. The brand system view leads to an analysis of the different roles that a brand can play. In particular, a brand or sub-brand, in addition to driving a business area, can also play a role in supporting other brands or in providing clarity to customers. Another set of systems issues involves leveraging the brand via vertical or horizontal brand extensions, creating brands that range over product classes, and co-branding. The brand systems audit is introduced as a way to start managing brands as a system.
Fourth, an approach to brand equity measurement across products and segments is presented. Measurement is of practical interest to most managers attempting to build and manage multiple markets and brands, and it also provides a (quantitative discipline to the conceptual branding models.
Fifth, brand-nurturing organizational forms are discussed. Brand building now needs to deal with brand systems issues and with problems of coordinating a brand across markets, products, roles and contexts. These challenges strain conventional organizations, and new approaches are often needed.
In addition, the Saturn brand-building story illustrates many of the issues and approaches raised in the book. I have become close to the Saturn project and have grown to believe that it is one of the most impressive examples of brand building in recent years.
As in Managing Brand Equity, conceptual models and issues in this book are illustrated with case studies and examples. I believe abstract models need to be placed in illustrative contexts in order to provide clarity and to stimulate new ways of looking at brands and their management. Further, where possible, academic research is drawn on to support hypotheses of how the process being discussed or modeled really works. Because I do not presume that all readers have read
Managing Brand Equity, some key concepts from that work are repeated, but the overlap involves considerably less than 5 percent of this book. References are occasionally made to material covered in detail in Managing Brand Equity.
There are many who contributed to this book. I owe special thanks to Kent Grayson of the London Business School, who read the first draft and made numerous detailed comments and suggestions. I have benefited from stimulating conversations with Scott Talgo of the St. James Group, who contributed substantially to the core model developed in Chapter 3. My able assistant and editor extraordinaire, Carol Chapman, patiently helped provide extra polish. At the Free Press, Catherine Wayland cheerfully helped in a multitude of ways, and Celia Knight kept the book moving along.
My thoughts and the book have also benefited from sometimes intense discussion with some very insightful people in academia and industry that I respect, such as Kevin Lane Keller of North Carolina, Jennifer Aaker of UCLA, Roberto Alvarez of ESADE and the Haas School of Business, Bob Ellis at Hal Riney, Peter Sealey, now associated with Sony and the Haas School of Business, Steve Weisz of Marriott, Duane Knapp of Brand Strategies, Jeff Sinclair of the St. James Group, Rick Lightburn of McDonald's, Andrew Stodart of IDV, Janet Brady of Clorox, Bruce Jeffries-Fox at AT&T, Peter Georgescu and Stuart Agres at Young and Rubicam, Alexander Biel of Alexander Biel Associates, and my colleagues at the Haas School.
I had help on the manuscript from some outstanding students including Diane Gabianelli, Joan Kauffman, John Somerville, John Friedman, Beth Ulman, Vincent Weller, JeffYin, Tim Teirry, Ross van Woert, Satoshi Akutsu, Nicholas Lurie, Jane Liou, and Marcy Poms, and from a superb copyeditor, Chris Kelly.
Finally, I want to thank Bob Wallace of The Free Press for his encouragement and his positive attitude about me and my projects. And I especially want to thank my family, who supported yet another writing project.