Brand Relevance: A book review by Bob Morris

Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant
David A. Aaker
Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons (2011)

If your “brand” isn’t relevant, neither are you and your company

Those who have read any of David Aaker’s previous books already know that he presents information, insights, and counsel that are anchored in specific real-world circumstances within a broad and deep frame-of-reference. Brand Relevance is no exception. On the contrary, I think it is his most important, his most valuable book thus far. In Reality Check, Guy Kawasaki shares everything he has learned thus far about how to (and how not to) “outsmart, outmanage, and outmarket your competition.” In his latest book, Aaker shares everything he has learned thus far about how to (and how not to) “drive change through innovations that will create new categories and subcategories – making competitors less relevant –[so that] other firms can recognize the emergence of these new categories and subcategories and adapt to them.”

As he explains, the way for a firm to get on top of its strategies in a time of change is to achieve these four strategic objectives: (1) Complete and then follow a process by which to create new categories and subcategories that make competitors irrelevant; (2) Apply the brand relevance concept to the given circumstances and leverage its power as a way to drive and understand dynamic markets; (3) understand how and why brand relevance can be diminished or lost as well as how and why to avoid or replenish that loss; and (4), understand and develop or strengthen the characteristics it must have “to support substantial or transformational innovation that will lead to new categories or subcategories.”

Aaker identifies with meticulous care the “what” of these and other strategic objectives, then devoting the bulk of his attention to explaining how to achieve them. To support his results-driven approach, he makes brilliant use of 25 mini-case studies of a remarkably diverse range of companies that include IKEA, Best Buy, Whole Foods Market, Zappos, Zipcar, Apple, Segway’s Human Transporter,, and Walmart. As these and other exemplars have clearly demonstrated, companies are most relevant when their clients depend on them to help them be most relevant to their own clients. Here in a single source is about all the information, insights, and counsel any C-level executives need to ensure that their companies gain and then sustain brand preference and thereby make their competitors irrelevant.



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