Top 10 power brands
Brands are the light, not the bulb. Here are our picks for those trademarks that have withstood the test of time and forged an emotional connection with consumers.
By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor | 07/05/2005
How does General Mills keep the iconic brand contemporary? “Cheerios remains contemporary by delivering benefits and messages that are meaningful to consumers,” explains Ens. “The recent focus on whole grain helps illustrate this. General Mills has led the whole grain focus for food manufacturers, with Cheerios at the foreground. As an excellent source of whole grains, Cheerios is well positioned to deliver meaningful whole grain benefits to consumers that fit perfectly with the recent Food Guide Pyramid recommendations. Cheerios always has been a whole grain cereal, but communicating the whole grain benefit in a meaningful way allowed us to showcase yet another reason Cheerios is a good choice for today’s consumer.”
|Coca-Cola's uniquely shaped glass bottle remains a familiar icon for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
It’s the real thing
“In building a global brand, you should keep your local identity and then use that as a springboard to go global,” according to marketing expert Al Ries of Ries & Ries Consulting, Roswell, Ga. And that’s what Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has done so successfully.
The Coca-Cola name is the world’s most valuable brand, worth approximately $55 billion (as of June 2005), reports Forbes
. But its value has declined 4 percent annually over the past four years due to lowered consumption of soda, particularly in the U.S., and the stock has suffered a 9 percent decline. However, Coke has overcome many obstacles in its long history, and you can bet it will continue to do so.
The brand is as American as can be. In fact, when the U.S. decided to enter World War II, Coke’s patriarch, Robert Woodruff placed his hand on his heart and declared he would “see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents wherever he is and whatever it costs.” Of course, it helped that Woodruff’s friend, General Dwight Eisenhower, was a great promoter of Coke as well. By the time the war ended, hundreds of thousands of fighting men and women became fans forever of Coca-Cola and its uniquely shaped glass bottle, a visual cue used on today’s cans.
One of Coke’s strengths is its continued identification with its most memorable slogan from the 1970s — “It’s The Real Thing,” a powerful message engrained in the American psyche. Named after the coca leaves and kola nuts (and some say cocaine) John Pemberton used to invent it in 1886 in his small Atlanta pharmacy, Coke initially was used as a patent medicine, an elixir said to relieve headaches, sluggishness, indigestion and hangovers. But people loved the taste so much they began to drink it for pleasure. Although occasionally someone claims to “discover” the secret formula, the reality is only a few trusted employees know it.
Woodruff, president of the company from 1923-1954, took the fountain drink to the bottle, recognized the power of advertising and used it to take the Coca-Cola Co. from a regional brand to an American success story and then to an international powerhouse.
Coke learned that consumers had a deep emotional attachment to the soda in 1985. Losing market share to other soda companies, CEO and advertising genius Roberto Goizueta made a bold move. Deciding to deliver something “new and exciting” to consumers, the company not only revamped its label design but the 99-year-old-recipe as well. New Coke met with a firestorm of protest from consumers. Critics called it the biggest marketing blunder ever, but Goizueta returned the original formula just 79 days after it was pulled from the market, renamed it Coca-Cola Classic and the product increased its lead over the competition.
Incidentally, consumers are responsible for the nickname Coke. At first, the company frowned on the practice, fearing loss of identity, but when customers persisted, Coca-Cola registered the nickname too (after winning a Supreme Court decision to do so in 1920).
Today, Coca-Cola has some 400 brands in its portfolio and is a proponent of strong local brands including Inca Kola, a soft drink found in North and South America; Samurai, an energy drink available in Asia; and Vita, an African juice drink. Its products are available in 200 countries, in fact, more than 70 percent of the company’s sales are derived from outside of North America. Although Coca-Cola is committed to local markets around the world, the Coca-Cola brand remains a symbol of American ingenuity and consistency, and some 1.3 billion servings are poured each day.
All around the world, a Coke is a Coke. This core value — product quality — makes it a great and lasting brand.
|Signature of a behemoth: The maker of Lay's potato chips is the 800-lb. gorilla of the snack food category.
Chipping away the competition through innovation
Perhaps no food category is so dominated by a single set of brands. Frito-Lay Inc., Plano, Texas, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, is the largest snack food maker in the world. It has a 60 percent share of the U.S. core salty snack food market and a 40 percent share of the global market. It owns more than 15 brands with sales of $100 million or more each, including Cheetos cheese flavored snacks, Cracker Jack candy coated popcorn, Doritos flavored tortilla chips, Fritos corn chips, Lay’s potato chips, Lay’s Stax potato crisps, Munchies snack mix, Rold Gold pretzels, Ruffles potato chips, Sun Chips multigrain snacks and Tostitos tortilla chips. These brands are sold in more than 120 countries for sales of more than $13 billion annually. Frito-Lay also sells a variety of branded dips.