Three Ways to Build a Competitive, Compelling, Purposeful Brand

In my view, there are three accelerating branding trends that are affecting nearly every business. The winners of tomorrow are going to be riding these waves, rather than swimming against them.
Aktuality | 08.10.2015

First, there is a trend from brand preference competition to subcategory competition. Brand preference competition, driven by incremental innovation and “my brand is better than your brand” marketing, rarely results in growth and is so not fun. Subcategory competition, driven by substantial innovation that creates new “must haves” in the marketplace that define new subcategories for which competitors are not relevant, is almost always associated with any meaningful brand growth spurt. 

The evidence that subcategory competition is driving growth is abundant. For me, the insight started with my analysis of some 40 years of Japanese beer data. During that time, there were only four major changes in market share trajectory, three of which were caused by new subcategories being formed or solidified: dry beer, ichiban and happoshu. The fourth was when two subcategories, dry and lager, were simultaneously repositioned.

I have found the same pattern in dozens of subcategories within the automotive, financial services, computer, retail, water and airline industries, and many more. Growth, with rare exceptions, comes only when new subcategories are formed. In the automobile space, for example, we know that was true for the Chrysler minivan, PriusTesla and others. There are several implications.
Key Takeaways
  • ​Research has shown that when facts are packaged into stories, they are more likely to be remembered and more persuasive—by a huge margin.

  • Growth, with rare exceptions, comes only when new subcategories are formed. 

  • A higher purpose can provide a route to customer relationships. 


(published: AMA,, author: David Aaker)