New Book From UVA Darden Professor Offers Tools for Creating, Building and Growing Brands

By Dave Hendrick

In virtually any consumer-facing brand — whether laundry detergent, automobiles or home insurance —  achieving superior brand positioning is key to long-term product success and firm growth.

But if the goals and rewards of superior positioning are clear, the journey can be maddeningly opaque, with formal marketing training too often emphasizing theory at the expense of practical action.

In a new book, Positioning for Advantage: Techniques and Strategies to Grow Brand Value (Columbia Business School Publishing, 2021) University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Kimberly Whitler offers a critical bridge between theory and action, providing a clear how-to guide for creating, building and executing effective brand strategies, with valuable insights for both students and experienced marketers. The book is the result of interviews with more than 400 C-level marketing leaders and executive recruiters, as well as Whitler’s own hands-on experience as a marketing leader at companies including Procter & Gamble, Aurora Foods, David’s Bridal and PETsMART, and current career as a professor in a top MBA program.

“For many, ideally positioned brands are taken for granted, or perhaps seen as the result of little more than good luck,” said Whitler. “In fact, better positioned brands are almost always the result of a concerted series of consumer-based, science-backed tools used to construct and activate the brand in a unified manner. Positioning for Advantage offers strategies and techniques used to build brands that achieve been in-market positions — and shows why it matters.”

According to Whitler, business school students and experienced managers alike are frequently puzzled by the marketing role and often fail to note the clear relationship between brand development and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Positioning for Advantage makes the enterprise case for effective brand marketing and, more importantly, provides the tools needed to begin positioning a brand for competitive advantage immediately.

Whitler introduces readers to seven tools, divided into three categories of:

  • Marketing strategy tools intended to help marketers understand how to define and communicate desired positioning
  • Bridging tools designed to help marketers span the strategy and planning divide
  • Marketing planning tools intended to help implement the strategic marketing plan

Packed with real-world scenarios and insights from top marketers in a range of fields, Positioning for Advantage offers a new starting point to help all marketers, regardless of background or experience, understand foundational tools; put the tools into practice; and enable brand growth, differentiation and competitive — even perpetual — advantage.

In addition to serving as the Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Darden School, Whitler is a senior contributor at Forbes and has published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review and a number of academic journals.

Positioning for Advantage is now available to order. Read an excerpt of the book on Darden Ideas to Action.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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