Starbucks Coffee Company sources and roasts the highest quality Arabica coffee in the world. I admire Starbucks for not just the coffee, but mainly for the brand and consistent stores they have built worldwide ... branding with out spending too much on advertising. The man who built the chain, Howard D Schultz, stresses on the focus of customer experience. Even I believe that you cannot force customers to come back but you have to get customers to like you so that it becomes their need.
Cisco, a networking giant, in the recent past has demonstrated its unique ability to perform well in an intensely difficult environment. Cisco has translated its core strengths of manufacturing scale and efficiency into good profitability. The company has completed more than 100 acquisitions, showing their sharp, well-planned strategy.
Other than that I can think of my favourites Google and Suzlon. Founded in 1998 by Stanford PhD students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google uses innovative search technologies to connect millions of people around the world with relevant information. With online, text-based advertising as its core to create a brand, Google has been a fast-growing organisation popular with advertisers and web users around the world.
In India, it could be only companies like Suzlon that are working on green energy and rapidly becoming the leader in windmill power generation (basically the way they have scaled up and grown and at the same time helped the environment) is a remarkable achievement in itself.
Advertising and extreme marketing expenditure does not create a brand, instead the focus has to be the whole customer experience. No doubt the company has to create a brand but the main factor is the human touch that resonates so critically with people. Branding is never more important than the brand itself.
The author is MD, Perot Systems Insurance and Business Process Solutions - India & Manila