Brand It Like Apple

February 1, 2005
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Brand It Like Apple
Sarah Theodore  
Editor
What do Apple computers, Starbucks and Target stores have in common? Fabulous branding, according to branchannel.com, brand consultancy Interbrand’s online publication. Brandchannel recently released the results of its 2004 Reader’s Choice Awards, and those companies were among the firms thought to have the most global brand impact.
Thanks to the iPod, Apple achieved 300-percent sales growth last year. According to brandchannel, there are now more than 10 million “pod-addicts” in the world, and the company created the iTunes music store to further boost its appeal to music lovers.
Starbucks is both a beverage industry and retail phenomenon, and it continues to fire on all cylinders. It opened more than 1,300 new locations in 2004, and consistently innovates in both its product lineup and the services that make its stores so popular.
The Seattle-based coffee company was the only beverage firm to make it on the Top 5 list in North America, but Corona, Bacardi (this month’s Beverage Industry cover company) and winemaker Concha y Toro all made the list for most influential Central and Latin American companies. Café de Colombia, the group that created Juan Valdez, slipped from the Top 5, but still is considered quite influential by branchannel.
Beverage Industry readers who work with Target won’t be surprised to learn that branchannel’s assessment of the mass merchandise retailer was that it makes people feel “smart, savvy and sexy” for being Target shoppers. Minneapolis-based Target excels at the concept of upscale, often exclusive products at a reasonable price. I’d have to add that it’s the same concept that has made Costco club stores such a success.
So what’s relevant to beverage manufacturers about the iPod? And why did more big beverage brands not make the short list? As a recent Cannondale Powe-Ranking survey pointed out, branding and innovation strongly affect the way retail customers think about food and beverage companies.
The survey reported one retailer’s frustration: “Food companies are very good at what they do. But we’re in a period of relative stagnation where there isn’t anything really exciting taking place in the market. The best example of this is the whole low-carb phenomenon. We’ll look back on this as one of the biggest wastes of manufacturing resources and time that has happened in the last 10 years. If the hundreds of millions or perhaps billions of dollars spent to introduce low-carb items were invested in other areas to create some really innovative new products, just think of the long-term effect on the food business.
“On the other hand, if you look at what is happening on non-foods, these manufacturers have had to innovate because their categories were stagnant... If you want to know where innovation is coming from right now, it’s coming from non-foods.”
Do you have an iPod in your lineup? What are the areas of the beverage industry that still have potential for true brand impact? Perhaps a look at another industry can be a great source of inspiration.

Sneak Peek
March
Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group’s
Jim Turner
Category Focus — Annual soft drink report
Packaging — Mass merchandiser packaging
Marketing — Seasonal marketing
Beverage R&D — R&D testing equipment
April
Category Focus — Wine & spirits
Marketing — C-store strategies
Packaging — Annual packaging report
Beverage R&D — Sweeteners

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