Prof. Aaker, who in my view is the intellectual thought leader of branding today, writes a useful post, "Strategies from the New Emerging Market Competitors," breaking down the competitive advantage of emerging multinational corporations (EMNCs).
But at the same time he muddies the waters when it comes to explaining what branding is, exactly. --- The basic argument: MNCs particularly in China excel at making
1) low-cost products made with low-cost labor (ethics in the parking lot for the moment)
2) products that focus on the most important customer wants
3) (as Marian Salzman has put it) "hyperlocal" knowledge that facilitates true reach
4) brand-building expertise that focuses innovation in a particular way (examples - HTC and Lenovo)
The problem: Brand is #4 on the list instead of driving 1, 2 and 3.
If brand = business then why not structure the post so that all business decisions flow from the positioning of the organization?
Because the net effect of this blog post structure is that branding is, once again, an afterthought.