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Marketing Aesthetics


There is no way to mistake the ubiquitous trademarked Coca-Cola bottle, or the stylish ads for Absolut Vodka with any of their competitors. How have these companies created this irresistible appeal for their brands? How have they sustained a competitive edge through aesthetics?

Bernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson, two leading experts in the emerging field of identity management, offer clear guidelines for harnessing a company's total aesthetic output -- its "look and feel" -- to provide a vital competitive advantage. Going beyond standard traditional approaches on branding, this fascinating book is the first to combine branding, identity, and image and to show how aesthetics can be managed through logos, brochures, packages, and advertisements, as well as sounds, scents, and lighting, to sell "the memorable experience." The authors explore what makes a corporate or brand identity irresistible, what styles and themes are crucial for different contexts, and what meanings certain visual symbols convey. Any person in any organization in any industry can benefit from employing the tools of "marketing aesthetics."

Schmitt and Simonson describe how a firm can use these tools strategically to create a variety of sensory experiences that will (1) ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty; (2) sustain lasting customer impressions about a brand's or organization's special personality; (3) permit premium pricing; (4) provide legal "trade dress" protection from competitive attacks; (5) lower costs and raise productivity; and (6) most importantly, create irresistible appeal. The authors show how to manage identity globally and how to develop aesthetically pleasing retail spaces and environments. They also address the newly emergent topic of how to manage corporate and brand identity on the Internet. Supporting their thesis with numerous real-world success stories such as Absolut Vodka, Nike, the Gap, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Starbucks, the New Beetle Website, and Lego, the authors explain how actual companies have developed, refined, and maintained distinct corporate identities that set them apart from competitors.

Discussion Group Questions
1. What aesthetics does your organization currently use and how is it manifested?
  • Identify the key identity elements of the organization
  • Identify styles and themes embodied in them
  • What are the desired expressions and what impressions do they create?

2. What type of identity does your organization use (monolithic, branded, or endorsed). Should this structure be changed in order to better leverage your identity? How?
3. What are the bottom line business effects being created by your identity?
  • Identify different target audiences for various identity elements
  • Estimate or examine potential consumer reactions to these identity elements across and within the identified segments/markets
  • Identify manifested weaknesses in business opportunities due to neglect of aesthetics and identity management.

4. What is the aesthetic image or identity you desire to convey, how and why?
  • Identify/isolate key themes of your organization
  • Determine styles to accompany various themes
  • Decide best on which identity elements need change and how to integrate the identity across the various elements and target markets

5. What nonconventional ways can you use to strengthen your identity?
  • Identify leading aesthetics across numerous industries.
  • Determine how your organization can gain awareness, interest, and increase market share by honing and strengthening its identity

6. What procedures should you institute to maintain and protect, monitor and update your identity?
7. Are there opportunities for strengthening your organization's aesthetics?
  • internationally and globally
  • through retailing or spatial environments
  • through digital media (such as the Web)

More books from this author: Bernd H. Schmitt