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Management article
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Reference no. R0106J
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2001

Abstract

Subaru markets an L.L. Bean Outback station wagon. Dell stamps Microsoft and Intel logos on its computers. Such interweaving of different companies'' brands is now commonplace. But one of the central tools of brand management--portfolio mapping--has not kept pace with changes in the marketplace. Most conventional brand maps include only those brands owned by a company, arranged along organizational lines with little regard for how the brands influence customer perceptions. In this article, the authors present a new mapping tool--the brand portfolio molecule--that includes all the brands that factor into a consumer''s decision to buy, whether or not the company owns them. The first step in creating a brand portfolio molecule is to determine which brands should or should not be included. The second step is to classify each brand by asking five key questions: 1) How important is this brand to customers'' purchase decisions about the brand you''re mapping? 2) Is its influence positive or negative? 3) What market position does this brand occupy relative to the other brands in the portfolio? 4) How does this brand connect to the other brands in the portfolio? 5) How much control do you have over this brand? The last step is to map the molecule using a 3-D modeling program or by hand with pen and paper.

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Abstract

Subaru markets an L.L. Bean Outback station wagon. Dell stamps Microsoft and Intel logos on its computers. Such interweaving of different companies'' brands is now commonplace. But one of the central tools of brand management--portfolio mapping--has not kept pace with changes in the marketplace. Most conventional brand maps include only those brands owned by a company, arranged along organizational lines with little regard for how the brands influence customer perceptions. In this article, the authors present a new mapping tool--the brand portfolio molecule--that includes all the brands that factor into a consumer''s decision to buy, whether or not the company owns them. The first step in creating a brand portfolio molecule is to determine which brands should or should not be included. The second step is to classify each brand by asking five key questions: 1) How important is this brand to customers'' purchase decisions about the brand you''re mapping? 2) Is its influence positive or negative? 3) What market position does this brand occupy relative to the other brands in the portfolio? 4) How does this brand connect to the other brands in the portfolio? 5) How much control do you have over this brand? The last step is to map the molecule using a 3-D modeling program or by hand with pen and paper.

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