When Eric Kim, executive vice president of global marketing operations for Samsung Electronics, joined the company in 1999, he accepted a daunting challenge: build the Korean manufacturer’s brand into a force that would rival industry leader Sony in revenue, profit, and prestige—within five years.
It wasn’t going to be easy. At that point, Samsung was arguably the biggest consumer electronics maker that consumers had never heard about. The company had competed for three decades mainly as a behind-the-scenes supplier of computer monitors and semiconductors to more powerful multinationals. Even as it increasingly went to market with its own branded PDAs, mobile phones, and DVD players, Samsung was considered a low-cost provider, with low visibility to match. Kim needed to make Samsung a household word, and one synonymous with innovation and quality.