“Brands will tumble and fall.”

Dear reader
on September 10/11 we organize our next marketing module: Building Global Brands with former BAT Marketing Director Jimmi Rembiszewski *).
Recently he gave this interview, which we shortly published in our newsletter.

Please join us next Monday and start right away your Executive MBA or your Master of Science.

Kind regards,
Peter Lorange


A whole chapter in your new book (written together with Peter Lorange) is dedicated to the ‘hidden champions’. It sounds a bit like: the small, flexible businesses do everything right, contrary to the big ones. Nevertheless, the big players are successful still. Who is doing it right?

What we are referring to in the book is not necessarily the size itself but internal and external obstacles, which have not been adjusted to the new world of e-consumers. Hidden champions is more about old companies, which have developed their business models in the last century and find it difficult to radically adjust it whilst others, mainly companies which where born into the Internet world, find it by definition easier.

Also, you will see the same great examples in the consumer space of old companies which do rather well because their business model does fit the economic circumstances. Take for instance some luxury brand companies.

That’s what we say. All successful companies are doing it the right way.

In your initial question you said that old big consumer companies are successful today. Well, success is relative. Measure it with top line growth and brand value growth and compare it to, say 20 years ago, and you will see: they lost out big time.

“Factories are a liability today. They are one of the key obstacles for fast innovation.”

You are writing a lot about innovation, decentralization, R+D as the formula for success, but you say nothing about the brand itself. You as a branding expert: How important is the brand?

The brand value is critical, but no brand can survive outdated products. So, products need constant upgrades. In the 20th century this has become more important than ever because of the new consumer who is expecting faster. In brief: a brand can rise much quicker than ever but it will also fall quicker.

Mercedes Logo. One of the top brands of the 20th and the 21st centuryOne of the top brands of the 20th and the 21st century

I consider Peter Drucker’s sentence “I’d rather own a brand than a factory” as outdated. I’d rather have a factory than a brand, but could create a brand through innovative products. Isn’t this the root of all evil of our time: We want brands, but we don’t care for content?

No. Factories are a liability today. They are one of the key obstacles for fast innovation cycles. Brands as stated above must deliver content, of course, but they must do it faster and better to stay relevant. Also retail shops that can uniquely bring a brand experience or message across are better to be owned than factories. More along these lines you can find in our book.

“No brand can survive
outdated products.”

On their website, the Lorange Institute of Business writes about ‘Building Global Brands’ (the course Jimmi is teaching on September 10/11: In a global competitive environment professional brand stewardship can make the difference between success and failure. Do you agree with this drastic statement?

I do, a hundred percent.

You’re a man who is never at a loss for an answer. Every year ‘branding trends’ are published. Which of these trends are a fad and which are sustainable?

Marlboro Logo. Marlboro, one of the top brands of the 20th centuryMarlboro, one of the top brands of the 20th century

Well, I am sorry, but this is too broad a field to answer. Some books might be great; having said this I am not an expert in marketing literature. I am a person who learned by doing. Certainly what I have seen so far from the academic side on modern marketing is poor.

To conclude, we are interested in your personal review and a forecast. Which are your top-brands in the 20th century and which brand do you predict a bright future in the 21st?

For the 20th century I choose Coke, Marlboro, Nestlé, Pantene, Colgate, German luxury cars, Swiss watches and McDonald’s.

For the 21th: French and Italian designer labels, Samsung, Apple, German luxury cars, Samsung.


Jimmi Rembiszewski*) Jimmi Rembiszewski

He joined the British American Tobacco Group as a Marketing Director and as a Territorial Director in 1991, having had various senior marketing and business appointments in Procter & Gamble and Jacobs Suchard. In 1996 he became a member of the Management Board of the new BAT and stayed the Marketing Director for the Group until his retirement at the end of 2009.


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