Top 5 Marketed Companies in the World

  • Dell Computer (nasdaq: DELL – news – people ) is a great example of bold and daring marketing that has endured. When the computer industry was employing nothing but conventional wisdom and selling through complicated and profit-draining distribution channels, a 19-year-old University of Texas student named Michael Dell asked why PCs had to be distributed in this rigid, myopic fashion. He then decided to act in a truly contrarian way by taking his products directly to the customer, cutting out the expensive and unnecessary distribution, streamlining service and putting himself in direct touch with his customers.
  • Sony (nyse: SNE – news – people ) is the kind of company that constantly launches so many great products that engineers and designers for competing companies must get little rest at night; they must wonder exhaustedly how to keep up. Since 1946, when Masaru Ibuka started Sony, it has rocketed into electronics and entertainment consumers’ minds as the brand. Beginning right after the end of the war as it did, one of Sony’s founding purposes was “to reconstruct Japan and to elevate the nation’s culture.” It’s no small wonder that, with such lofty original goals, Sony has become an iconoclastic global brand.
  • “Daring” is how Doug Spong of Carmichael Lynch Spong Public Relations describes the marketing style of Harley-Davidson (nyse: HDI– news – people ). Spong, who serves H-D as a client, goes on to say that Harley’s brand “has as much relevance as some 100 years ago when the three Harley brothers and the Davidson boy started the company.” The numbers for 2001 are impressive: $438 million in profit (up 25.9%) on $3.4 billion in sales (up 15.7%) and a share price increase of almost 40%.
  • Virgin‘s Richard Branson has long been considered an entrepreneurial genius. Here’s a guy who’s hammered together an empire spanning retailing, records, entertainment, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, online car sales, airlines, travel, resorts, health care, trains, limousines, movie theaters, financial services, mobile phones, Internet service, publishing, radio stations, utilities, wines, mortgages and bridal stores. Branson himself has to venture a guess as to how many companies he owns, estimating 250–a good many of which are privately held. “The phenomenon at work at Virgin is the transition of the consumer perception of brands. Virgin doesn’t think about what products [it makes], but how [its] products make people feel,” says Patrick Palmer, chief strategic officer at Euro RSCG Tatham Partners in Chicago.
  • Both Southwest Airlines (nyse: LUV – news – people ) and EasyJetwere chosen on the weight of their performance in an incredibly challenging industry. EasyJet, while not as well-known in the U.S., is very much changing the competitive landscape for airlines in Europe and deserves inclusion on the basis of its competitive activities against much bigger airlines, including British Airways (nyse: BAB – news – people ).