Dean Speaker Series: David Aaker on Brand Personality (Recap)


Last Wednesday Haas had the honor of hosting marketing icon, and professor emeritus of marketing and public policy, David Aaker. As a student having taken UGBA 162: Brand Management and Strategy with Professor Judy Hopelain, I read Aaker’s most recent work, “Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles that Drive Success,” and was exceptionally moved by his insight on brand management. I was eager to meet this speaker whose inspirational work truly broke down the basics of brand personality in an approachable manner.

Every seat in the Wells Fargo room was filled as Aaker elaborated on his brand theory explaining brands as having personalities, just like people, with certain features that help consumers associate a strong feeling or emotion to that product and brand. People do not purchase with their rational mind- they don’t buy attributes, they purchase the brand personality, one that helps them express their ideal self-image. For example, Aaker explained the Prius brand exudes a personality of someone who cares about the environment and takes responsible action towards helping remedy problems caused by climate change. Consumers who want to be associated with these ideals will align their purchases with brands that match.

But, as with most things, to establish and maintain a brand personality you need strength and consistency backing it. The product and marketing managers need to be able to identify what is on and off brand and only make decisions that support their brand’s clearly defined vision.

Both in his speech and his book Aaker acknowledges the Haas School of Business four pillars as an exemplary brand vision. Question the status quo, confidence without attitude, students always and beyond yourself, so clearly outline what we stand for as an institution and a community. These pillars serve as the guiding principles for everything we do and are not to be compromised.

For more detail you can view the full version of Aaker’s speech here and for a list of upcoming Dean Speaker’s Series guests please visit the Haas website. Come be inspired at the next Dean Speaker Series event with Danae Ringelmann, Founder and Chief Development Officer of Indiegogo on Thursday, March 3rd. I look forward to seeing you all there!

If there is another leader you would like to hear speak, or an industry you would like represented in the Dean Speaker Series please comment below!

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