David Aaker Shares His Long-Term Plan to Give Branding a Seat at the Executive Table

By Samantha Lien
Santa Clara University

I attended the Silicon Valley Brand Forum at NetApp in October, 2014, and I was particularly impressed by the opening presentation. For brand guru David Aaker, it’s all about the big picture. It’s about how branding can transform the way we do business.

Sharing six branding mantras from his book, Aaker on Branding, 20 Principles that Drive Success, Aaker underscored the power of branding to re-imagine current and long-term company success. Aaker Title Slide

Two of his main principles included having a “brand vision” for the company as well as “silo coordination” to allow branding to have impact beyond the marketing sector.

Brand Vision

Aaker first introduced the concept of brand vision with a quote from Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else”. He most certainly has a point. It’s time to take a step back and ask, “Where do you want your brand to go in the next 10-20 years? How do you want people to think about it?”

This means creating a mission statement for your brand that is multidimensional and aspirational. Aaker gave the example of the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas Business School, whose overall mission is to “develop leaders that redefine how we do business.”

Brand vision, Aaker maintains, needs to encompass a higher purpose, which means framing the brand with the big picture in mind. It’s not just about you and your company’s profit. Haas wants to develop the best business leaders for tomorrow; Apple wants to build great products for the everyday consumer. A company needs to work toward having a positive influence on the world.

Silo Coordination

The other main principle that addresses the need for big picture branding is silo coordination, something that often goes against the grain of corporate America. Branding may fall under the marketing umbrella, but it is ultimately a tool to be used by all components of a company. It can direct engineers to develop new products, it can help advertisers brainstorm, and it can inspire employees to think big about the company as a whole.

Instead of isolating silos, Aaker says its time cooperate and communicate to best serve the brand’s vision through all aspects of the company.

Branding has the power to transform the way we do business externally and internally. It’s just a matter of showing how branding can pay off now and in the future.

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