Top 10 Power Brands of 2005

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 and Trends Editor

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And while the company has acquired or launched brands such as Pepperidge Farm, Pace, Prego and V8, the Campbell's brand has only been stretched to tomato juice and Supper Bakes Meal Kits.

"Our brands continue to be contemporary because they address the needs and wants of today's consumers," continues Faulkner. "Our Campbell's condensed soup continues to be a wonderful value and with pop-top lids. These soups are more convenient than ever. Our soups continue to be easy to cook with [cooking with soup remains so popular that Americans use more than 440 million cans each year] and consumers can find thousands of recipe ideas at Our ready-to-serve soups, Campbell's Chunky and Campbell's Select, are more convenient than ever, with the introduction of microwaveable bowls. Campbell's Soup At Hand is the first sippable soup to be designed for on-the-go needs of today's consumer."

When pop artist Andy Warhol, who painted his famous Campbell's Soup cans in 1962, was asked why, he replied, "Because I used to drink [soup]. I had the same lunch every day for 20 years."

Cheerios remains contemporary by delivering benefits and messages that are meaningful to consumers, says marketing manager Joe Ens.

Those little letter ‘O's

Since its inception, strong marketing and association with cultural icons allowed Cheerios to achieve brand dominance. Ranked No. 1 in cereal in Brandweek's "Superbrands — America's Top 10 Brands," Cheerios has maintained its prominent position in spite of generic brand competition, largely due to its strategic association with American culture and its ability to resonate with young (and young at heart) consumers.

A family favorite for years – one of every 10 boxes of cereal sold in America is a box of Cheerios — its wholesome goodness is perfect for toddlers to adults. Introduced as CheeriOats in 1941 by Minneapolis-based General Mills, the cereal was marketed as "The Breakfast Food You've Always Wanted." Apparently it was, because it sold a record 1.8 million cases during its first year. Its name was changed to Cheerios (to avoid confusion with a similarly named competitor brand) in 1945, with the slogan: "Cheerios — the first ready-to-eat oat cereal."

"Cheerios has been nurturing families for more than 66 years," Joe Ens, marketing manager, says of the qualities of the brand that connect with consumers. "Cheerios is simple and wholesome and has become part of family traditions. It has great appeal to all ages, from being the ideal first finger food to the only leading cereal proven to lower cholesterol. As a result, Cheerios has incredible breadth of appeal, which has allowed the brand to maintain its No. 1 share position for years."

Cheerios' association with The Lone Ranger was the longest of the Cheerios brand promotions, on radio from 1941 until 1949 and continuing on television into the early 1960s. Encouraging children to request Cheerios cereal by name, the association was one of the most profitable in brand history. I can attest to this successful alliance. I probably ate 10,000 boxes of Cheerios as a kid, helping to make Cheerios the No. 1 selling cereal product in the 1950s, just to get my valuable Lone Ranger decoder ring, silver bullet, and mask.

General Mills continues to nurture the brand. "Nurturing is at the heart of Cheerios," says Ens. "We nurture the brand by ensuring it nurtures consumers. The Cheerios brand has such a deep meaning to consumers that we are able to focus on the higher-level benefits that Cheerios offers. For example, our advertising is very emotional, and it reflects the lives of our consumers and the many ways Cheerios is a part of their lives. Our Spoonfuls of Stories program nurtures families across America each year — not only by providing 5 million children's books free inside boxes of Cheerios, but also through our continued support of First Book, a non-profit dedicated to providing books to children who may have no age-appropriate books of their own."

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.
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