“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.
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.