This week marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I was awarded Fellowship of the CIM last year although I did attend one of its training courses when I first made the move from sales to marketing some 33 years ago.
It was originally founded as the Sales Managers Association by 12 sales managers who shared a common goal to improve sales techniques and bring greater professionalism to their chosen careers. The original prospectus did not use the term marketing but did refer to advertising and market research and so it is clear that it was more than just a sales managers’ club.
It first began to offer examinations in 1928, and developed a wider range of services to a growing membership. In 1989, the Institute was awarded the Royal Charter and in 1998, the Institute began to award Chartered Marketer status in recognition of individual professionalism and on-going learning and development in marketing. Its membership today exceeds 42,000 worldwide.
Any marketer worth his salt wants to build valuable brands over the long term; indeed, one of the aspects of a successful brand is its ability to act as a store of value for the brand owner and a mark of trust for the consumer. Much of the received wisdom as taught in marketing books is that marketing evolved out of manufacturing in the post war era. This is simply a misunderstanding of marketing history which is much longer and more venerable even if the language may have changed. What marks the post war era is of course the advent of television and mass market advertising on that medium, but advertising was previously well developed in radio, before that in newspapers and magazines and before that in road-side signs and posters.
Brands have a very long history. To mark the centenary the CIM commissioned an analysis of successful long term brands. Seeing which brands have lasted the test of time and ranking them by value. I don’t intend to reproduce that here but it’s interesting to quote some of the more ancient brands. David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, who specialises in brands valuation, looked at brands which had survived for at least 100 years. “There are gems such as the Oxford University Press, founded in 1586, Hoare’s Bank, founded in 1672, and Twining’s tea, founded in 1706.”[i]
Laurie Young, another consultant, has been collecting such gems for years and not just in the UK. He has collated a list of over 400 brands that have survived since before 1900 including some that have lasted a millennium. We might expect banking brands to have been around a while; after all if they are successful they will gain both trust and size. HSBC goes back to 1865 and Santander to 1857 while Barclays dates from 1690. Similarly drinks brands often have a long life. Even in the US Southern Comfort was first distilled in 1874 eight years after Jack Daniels while Herr Schlitz first brewed his beer in 1849. But these are striplings by European standards. Among spirits we can cite Remy Martin (1724), Martell (1715) and Bushmills (1608). Beers can be even older: Greene King was founded in 1799, Guinness in 1759, Shepherd & Neame in 1698, Kronenbourg in 1664 as famously proclaimed on the label, Grolsch in 1615, Lowenbrau goes back to 1383, Stella Artois to 1366 and almost incomprehensibly Weihenstephan to 1040.[ii]
Tea and coffee brands go back to when they were first introduced into Europe. I have already mentioned Twining’s (1706) while Douwe Egberts followed in 1753. There’s a Chinese brand of tea called Pi Lo Chin that has been served for 1,200 years. Mr Schweppe first carbonated his mineral waters in 1783 but perhaps he was merely inspired by San Pellegrino, first bottled in 1200.
Even technology brands can be long lived. IBM is also celebrating its centenary this year while several famous technology brands were established in the 19th century including Philips (1891), GE (1876), Ericsson (1876), Toshiba (1875) and Cable & Wireless (1869). Kids playing on the latest Wii might be surprised to learn that Nintendo was founded in 1889. Skyscrapers became possible when the elevator was invented by Otis in 1861. I wonder whether the leading technology brands of today, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter etc, all still led by their founders, will prove to have the same staying power.
The language may have evolved along with the techniques of marketing but for centuries entrepreneurs have understood the value of making a quality product and using a brand name as a guarantee of that quality. Josiah Wedgwood developed his eponymous range of pottery with obsessive care. He would prowl through his factory smashing sub-standard items with his stick and declaring them “not fit for JW”. When I read that I was reminded of Forrest Mars Senior who did much the same at the M&M’s factory in Hackettstown, New Jersey. Wedgwood’s travails took him from rags to riches and he described his business process as “the science of money getting”, an early proxy for the practice of brand management and marketing.
Too many people today are in fear of the retailers who seek to commoditise their brands, or of competition from the low wage developing nations. (It is not right to call them emerging any more- they have emerged.) Consider this. The other day I was faced with a price of £1.40 per litre at the petrol pump at a garage. Scandalous, I thought, but I no longer care about the brand of petrol I use. Meanwhile in the shop there was a special offer on two five hundred millilitres bottles of Coca Cola for £2.40! Coca Cola in its 100th year still dominates its market, is still the preferred brand of cola among most cola drinkers and still commands an immense premium over low cost alternatives.
In 701 AD article 12 of Japan’s Ganshi code was consumer protection legislation requiring manufacturers to brand their goods as a safeguard of quality. Brand management is one of the most enduring ways of building a profitable long term business while satisfying consumers and raising the standards of all.
Copyright David C Pearson 2011 All rights reserved