Course Readings

Which course readings do you assign to students? Here are some of our favorites. Please feel free to add to our list by uploading a summary of readings that have worked for you. Be sure to tag the reading with content tags to help instructors know the core concepts that are covered within it and a link to where it can be obtained for use.

Brand Positioning

Brand Positioning (2014) in Core Curriculum in Marketing, Harvard Business School Publishing, (Jill Avery and Sunil Gupta)

Consumers in most product categories today are bombarded with too many choices. Even worse, the multitude of products that face them on the shelf often seem undifferentiated from one another, making choice even more difficult. This Reading addresses the principles of brand positioning and demonstrates how companies can strategically craft powerful, resonant, and unique brand positions to help their products stand out amidst the cacophony of the marketplace. Strategic brand positioning provides consumers with the answer to the all-important question, “Why should I buy?” The Reading discusses how to craft a brand’s value proposition for competitive advantage, through analysis and synthesis of consumer, company, and competitive factors. It highlights the types of brand positions companies can stake out in the minds of consumers, providing insight into the many creative ways brands can be differentiated from one another. It provides guidance for defending a market position through the illumination of the competitive dynamics of brand positioning. Special attention is given to disruptive positioning strategies that have the potential to reshape product categories. Finally, it presents the challenges associated with repositioning brands and the tension that exists between maintaining brand meaning consistency versus changing with the times.

Note on Brand Positioning

Note on Brand Positioning (2010) Boston University School of Management Note (Fournier and Eng)

Brand positioning is the art and science of claiming relevant, differentiated, and credible meanings for one’s brand such that the brand comes to own a place in the consumer’s mind that offers distinction and value. Brand positioning is perhaps the most fundamental of all marketing decisions as it provides the platform around which the marketing program becomes integrated. Positioning is a highly strategic endeavor with implications that extend far beyond the marketing department. A brand’s positioning answers the overarching question, “What business are we/should we be in?” and therefore implicates the firm’s business model and internal structures and processes. By all counts, brand positioning is a critical mechanism through which value is created and captured for the firm. Brands that lay claim to the right meanings and leverage them effectively transcend competitors and benefit from greater usage pull, higher penetration, and stronger consumer relationship ties.

Marketing Analysis Toolkit

Marketing Analysis Toolkit: Customer Lifetime Value Analysis (2010) Harvard Business School Note and Quantitative Analysis Toolkit (Thomas Steenburgh and Jill Avery)

Customers are increasingly being viewed as assets that bring value to the firm. Customer lifetime value is a metric which allows managers to understand the overall value of their customer base and relate it to three customer strategies firms employ: asset acquisition – attracting new customers to the firm, asset maximization – maximizing the value the firm extracts from each customer, and asset retention – retaining existing customers for the long term. The note gives students a foundation for analyzing marketing cases, as well as providing an analytical structure and process for completing a marketing plan. The note is accompanied by a free Excel worksheet which contains sample problems, prebuilt Excel models to calculate customer lifetime value, and charts and graphs which help visualize the results.

Understanding Brands

Understanding Brands (2008) Harvard Business School Note, (Anat Keinan and Jill Avery)

For many firms, the brands associated with their products and/or services are their most valuable assets, and, hence, much management attention is given to designing, communicating, nurturing, and protecting them. This note is designed to provide an understanding of brand management strategies firms use to build, sustain, and leverage their brands.

Brands and Branding

Brands and Branding (2003) Harvard Business School Note (Holt)

Develops a cultural framework for thinking about what a brand is and how firms shape their brands through their marketing activities. Four dimensions of the brand are described: economic, social, psychological, and symbolic.