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When Gerard Kleisterlee took the helm at Royal Philips Electronics in 2001 the Dutch conglomerate’s vast empire spanned sectors from TVs and light bulbs to semiconductors and medical devices. But one important thing was missing: a coherent brand.

“It was clear the missing link between Philips’ great technology and business success was marketing,” Kleisterlee says.

Countless focus groups across the company’s divisions all led to the same conclusion: New technology was often just too complex. So Philips stopped talking tech and started speaking the language of its customers.

It’s all part of a new branding effort launched two years ago called Sense and Simplicity. The idea is to create a “health care, lifestyle, and technology” company whose products promise innovation but are easy to use and designed around consumers. Kleisterlee hired a new marketing boss and quickly moved to ensure the company’s strategy filtered down to the troops.

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