A lot of the reasons people join a company and stay with it are to do with intangibles-the culture and the brand. Do I want to say I work for Adobe? Is that cool? When I tell people I work for Adobe, people say wow!
Melissa Dyrdahl, SR. VP. of Corporate Marketing, Adobe.

A brand is a set of tangible and intangible assests of a company or person. The most important assets of any business are intangible: its company name, brand, symbols, and slogans, and their underlying associations, perceived quality, name awareness, customer base, and proprietary resources such as patents, trademarks, and channel relationships.

These assets, which comprise brand equity, are a primary source of competitive advantage and future earnings, contends David Aaker, a national authority on branding. Yet, research shows that managers cannot identify with confidence their brand associations, levels of consumer awareness, or degree of customer loyalty. Moreover, in the last decade, managers desperate for short-term financial results have often unwittingly damaged their brands through price promotions and unwise brand extensions, causing irreversible deterioration of the value of the brand name.
Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name By David A. Aaker New York: The Free Press

A company's brand is the primary source of its competitive advantage and a valuable strategic asset," said Aaker, who is generally regarded as the world's leading academic authority on branding strategy. "Yet, too often, the brand message to customers is weak, confused, irrelevant, or, worst of all, indistinguishable from competitor offerings. "The challenge for all brands is that they have a distinct, clear image that matters to customers and truly differentiates them from the rest."

The key step is to create a broad brand vision or identity that recognizes a brand as something greater than a set of attributes that can be imitated or surpassed. In particular, Aaker suggests that a company consider its brand not just as a product or service, but as an organization, a person and a symbol.

The brand-as-organization perspective focuses on the associations of the company's people, culture, programs and values -- such as making a priority of innovation, a quality- or customer-focus, or leadership. Such organization associations are more endearing and more resistant to imitation by competitors than are product attributes.

"It is much easier to copy a product," said Aaker, "than to duplicate an organization with unique values, people and programs."
Building Strong Brands By David A. Aaker, New York

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