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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Frito-Lay's ability to read the public's desire for healthier products pushed it ahead of the pack, garnering good publicity along the way by completing a conversion to zero grams of trans fats in its Doritos, Tostitos and Cheetos snack brands. In 2003, well in advance of the USDA's 2006 mandate, Frito-Lay was the first brand to change the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of packaging to include a trans fat content line. Lay's, Ruffles, Fritos and Rold Gold Pretzels always contained zero grams of trans fat, which now makes their entire line of branded snacks zero-trans products.

Company founder Milton Hershey brought chocolate to the masses, who in turn rewarded him with riches and a town named in his honor.

A recipe for success

Hershey is synonymous with chocolate in the U.S. Most Americans count at least one Hershey product as their favorite. The Hershey Co. is the largest North American manufacturer of both chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery, with revenues over $4 billion, has more than 13,000 employees worldwide and exports products to over 90 countries. It markets such iconic brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Kit Kat, Almond Joy, Mounds, York, Jolly Rancher, Twizzlers, Ice Breakers and Bubble Yum, as well as newer products such as Swoops and Hershey's S'mores.

From its very inception, the company produced its own style of chocolate, added products that appeal to large numbers of consumers and packaged them simply — always emphasizing the Hershey brand, which stands for consistency and value.

Hershey's connection with the American Dream cannot be denied. Milton Hershey's rags-to-riches success story resonates with the multicultural generations of America. That determined pioneer's story captures our imagination; someone with a great product that works hard can reap rewards (and have a town named after him).

After building his own milk-processing plant in 1894 and working day and night for three years, Milton Hershey became the first American to perfect a formula of milk, sugar and cocoa for manufacturing milk chocolate — a process that had been a closely guarded secret by the Swiss. It enabled him to mass-produce and distribute milk chocolate candy with a shelf life. What had once been a luxury for the rich was to become an enjoyment that anyone could afford — the Hershey Bar. Always wrapped in a rich, brown wrapper, its color is evocative of the chocolate it contains.

Looking to expand its product line, the company in 1907 began producing a flat-bottomed, conical milk chocolate candy — Hershey's Kisses Chocolates. At first, they were individually wrapped in little squares of silver foil, but in 1921 machine wrapping was introduced. That technology also was used to add the familiar "plume" at the top to signify to consumers that it is a genuine Hershey's Kiss.

Hershey capitalizes on patriotism and loyalty. It's been the official chocolate of the American military since World War I, when Hershey Bars were included in soldiers' rations. During World War II, one billion bars were distributed by American soldiers on foreign shores.

Hershey's primary strategy has been to own the U.S. market — and that strategy has served the confectionery company well. Only 5 percent of its business is outside of the U.S., so its options are boundless. Today, Hershey sells 3.5 billion bars per year, leads the confectionery market with a 30 percent share for its brands, has one of the most effective logistics networks, maintains a cost-efficient value chain, leads in special edition products and stokes a pipeline of new confectionery products, continuously creating buzz.

Like Betty Crocker, Tony the Tiger's appearance has changed over the decades since his 1951 debut. He has slimmed and toned up substantially.

They're grrrreat!

There's a global franchise for cereal, and it belongs to Kellogg's. In fact, its brand identity is a synonym for cereal flakes, which it invented by accident in 1894. One of the few successful food businesses that can trace its origin back to a philosophy that urged people to improve their health by changing their eating habits, The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., has nurtured its brand since the 1906 launch of Toasted Corn Flakes cereal.

Cereal is good for you. This simple, clear message has worked very well for the company. If all the Kellogg's cereal boxes consumed since 1906 were placed side-by-side, they would ring the earth more than 3,000 times. Kellogg, the world's leading producer of cereals (more than 40) and convenience foods, enjoyed sales in 2004 of almost $10 billion. Its products are marketed in more than 180 countries around the world, and it employs more than 15,600 people worldwide.

Kellogg flourishes through skillful marketing of good products and by creating and sustaining a valuable brand name. It's a good example of multiple branding; each product is given its own clear identity and defining characteristics but is marketed using the Kellogg's brand name as an umbrella.

Tony the Tiger, Kellogg's most famous spokesman at No. 9 on Advertising Age's Top Brands list, was born in 1951, when advertising genius Leo Burnett was hired to create a campaign for Kellogg's new cereal, Sugar Frosted Flakes.
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