You might think that when times are tough, buyers would plump for the cheapest solution on offer but clearly it’s a bit more complicated than that. Any purchase has a total cost of ownership that is made up of purchase price, maintenance and the cost of replacement in the event of failure. Also on the scales are performance capabilities that might lead to successful conclusions to investigations. 
And you can’t ignore the potential for lost reputation if a system installed by an organisation reflects badly on that company’s professional capabilities. Nothing makes an installer look bad faster in the eyes of an end user than a system that fails to fulfil performance expectations or proves relentlessly unreliable. 
Considerations like these have a profound impact on installer and consultant recommendations and end users choices. Few, it seems, want to install a solution that does not offer good performance and upgradeability, enjoy strong support from distributors and have a good warranty from a respected manufacturer with an impeccable market history.  
When putting together that article I wasn’t sure which way the story would go. Would installers reveal they routinely brought in unknown brands from overseas? Was there competition between locally distributed products and the same brands brought in through the back door? While there may be instances of self-import by installers and integrators, as a rule it seems these activities are exceptions to the rule. 
Not surprisingly, in the course of the IP Challenges story I started thinking about the value of brands, their momentum in the market and the possibility buyers come to depend on quality brands as an extension of their own reputations and services, their own capabilities – particularly in competitive markets. 
In the course of these reflections I came upon a Millward Brown study that considered the fortunes of the world’s most valuable brands through the fiscal challenges of the past 4 years and the results were extremely interesting. Many of the most valuable brands shrugged off the hard times and grew at furious speed. 
Apple grew 20 per cent, IBM grew 15 per cent, Google remained on the spot but did not shrink, Microsoft gained 6 per cent, GE was up 12 per cent, China Mobile was up 9 per cent. Those that did not grow included traditional consumer retailers like Walmart, which was down very slightly, while Amazon and UPS grew in lockstep at around 35 per cent. Collectively, between 2006 and 2011, the 100 most valuable global brands rose in value by 66 per cent to $US2.4 trillion.
The point of all this is simple. Through the most challenging times do our industry’s quality brands, well supported from product ignition in R&D all the way through to marketing, distribution, backup and warranty, provide distributors, end users, installers and integrators not just a competitive edge but a commercial insurance policy?  
I don’t believe it’s improper to draw a parallel between the best global brands and the best brands in our smaller ecosystem of security electronics and networks. In my own experience it can be demonstrated that the performance of the best brands is consistently high, their reliability consistently good, their market weight consistently solid and their survivability close to 100 per cent. 
Further, I think it’s possible to include newer brands in this list of top brands in our industry. Those brands that have shown themselves to be committed to quality, new product development as well as development of new markets have prospered. There are a couple of brands that spring instantly to my mind – game changers that have taken the opportunities of the past 10 years and grown enormously. 
Something we should all bear in mind is that on top of the expanding demands of growing populations, the redress of fiscal errors at government, corporate and personal levels is slowly setting the scene for inevitable and powerful recovery. Australia also has a pipelined infrastructure build of half a trillion dollars. 
In my opinion, we are set for a long period of measured but sustainable growth through more careful governance. In this environment, the brands that have met the challenges of this market with integrity and innovation – they will be the ones that grow.