We returned to London recently after not having been to one of the world’s great cities in nearly 47 years, and it was great to visit all the sights again and realize that not much has changed over the years and yet the city is as modern and state-of-the-art as ever. We enjoyed seeing the sights and were particularly impressed by two attractions that we hadn’t visited before—the Churchill World War II Museum and the London Eye.

The Churchill Museum brought back to mind the the enormity of the second world war and the leadership that Sir Winston Churchill demonstrated as an allied leader and government official. The meeting rooms and demonstrations brought that era in history back to life and I highly recommend a visit on your next trip to England. The London Eye is a new trademark on the London skyline and there are some who would rather it wasn’t still there. However, we found it to be an exciting way to get a spectacular viewpoint of the London and all of the sights and sounds of the city. It’s a slow 360 ride that gives one an opportunity to truly appreciate the expanse and the history of this great city. Coca Cola sponsors the ride but their presence is subtle and allows the city to provide the excitement and spectacle for everyone.

Speaking of Coke, I mention in my video from Westminster Abbey that we should have a lasting memorial to great brands that have made an impact on marketing as well as the world that we live in. These are the brands that have become a fabric of our lives (sounds familiar) and have consistently been recognized for their marketing and advertising excellence. Coca Cola is certainly high on that list with a brand that continues to grow and excel despite the competition from other soft drinks and beverages. Coke has done it by providing messages and images that withstand the test of time and continue to stir the imagination as well as the thirsts of legions of consumers in all demographics and lifestyles. The great spots are reinforced with sponsorships at the national, worldwide and local levels that keep Coke not only top of mind but also as favored members of our community.

More recently, Apple has done the same thing by not only leading the world in technology and innovation but also by producing some of the most memorable marketing messages in all media. From the classic “1984” to competitive defense against Microsoft (I’m a PC, I’m a Mac campaign) to the outstanding imagery in promoting iphones, itunes, ipads, Apple manages to keep itself on the cutting edge and judging by the number of iphones that I observed on the tubes and busses of London, Scotland and Wales, there’s no stopping them now. They keep this brand alive in their retail stores, online, on mobile and everywhere in between. This brand is already a legend and only a couple decades old.

Walmart has grown to the largest business in the world and has an effect on the way the world does business in many ways (read “The WalMart Effect” by Charles Fishman) and it isn’t just by having everyday low prices. The company built a great brand strategy and then executes every day in every store with every customers. It’s marketing has been exceptional from the start by not relying solely on price/item print like most of its competitors, but rather by producing messages with real people, with great creative that makes the messages come through loud and clear. In the process, the company has built a brand that people trust and continue to shop no matter what their psychographics or demographics are.

Lexus has become the largest luxury car seller in the world by being an innovator and stylish choice among its target customers. However, there are many other great cars in the category. So, how does Lexus outsell all of them in the category combined. By marketing themselves smartly, logically and creatively and making a logical case for their brand over the others. They continue to improve on the product while maintaining the high standards of quality, features, and customer service that have re-established the standard of excellence in the automotive category.

McDonalds is everywhere in Great Britain and despite the hundreds of other food chains and local pubs and eating establishments, they continue to grow. We passed by the golden arches in almost every town and hamlet we visited and they were always busy and while they haven’t replaced English fish& chips on my list of favorites, they certainly sell their share of Big Mac’s and fries along the way. Again, McDonalds continues to improve on their product with innovation in food, service and stores, but they excel by an ongoing brand message that stands out among all of the other fast food providers in the market. They know that McD’s is part of life not just in the states but world-wide and their messages resonate with the customers no matter what part of the world they reside.

There are many others that deserve their own memorials in the Branding Abbeys and Monuments, and we’ll find that they share the common strengths in having an effective, customer-driven brand strategy. This is supported by creative, on-target advertising messages that resonate with the various thinking styles of an increasingly selective consumer. And they maintain a consistency of message throughout the years and in all marketplaces that provide a reason for being and a reason to prefer their brand over the others. Jolly good, I say!