“If you gave me $100 billion and said, ‘Take away the soft-drink leadership of Coca-Cola in the world,’ I’d give it back to you and say it can’t be done.”

So said Warren Buffett, the world’s wealthiest (or second or third, as if it makes much difference once you reach that stratosphere) person.

Indeed, the power of the brand can sustain a company, even in bad times. The publishing world has been wracked by a steady evaporation of marketing dollars. Many potential advertisers have simply zeroed their marketing budgets. Others are looking to save money by seeking out lower-cost alternatives.

Bad moves.

When a company stops marketing, it stops defining its place in the market. It is instead leaving its image to its competitors and would-be customers (or, gasp, the media). That’s a mistake.

Coca-Cola has perhaps the most copied product in the world. Wherever you go, you can find Pepsi and other lesser big-name brands, plus often dozens of local varieties of sodas, not to mention all the generic brands and other knockoffs or spinoffs. Coke is the target of nutritionists and dietitians everywhere, who decry its high sugar content and low nutritional value. And every month, some marketing or R&D whiz somewhere comes up with yet-another idea to try to knock it off its throne. Yet despite the intense competition, Coke manages to retain its standing as the world’s leading (and most popular) brand.

Why? Because its brand stands for quality and consistency, and because it markets like nobody’s brother.

It’s a lesson we in the electronics industry seem to forget time and again. And then we wonder where the sales went.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow

One thought on “Branded

  1. Right on target!

    When a company stops marketing, their reputation takes on a life of its own. Competitors talk about how they are fading and customers feel like they are being ignored, or worse – abandoned.

    Failing to continue marketing during lean times further reduces the chances that a company can withstand and recover from the downturn. After all, out-of-sight too often means out-of-mind when it comes time for the next RFP.

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