Quote unquote

Talking of questionable quotes, there’s one I have seen cropping up over the years that has been ascribed to Sir Hector Laing, who was Chairman of United Biscuits, a UK cookie conglomerate, in the 1970s and 1980s. He is supposed to have said sometime, somewhere:

“The most important assets are brands. Buildings age and become dilapidated. Machines wear out. Cars rust. People die. But what lives on are the brands.”

A quotable quote if ever there was one, but did he say it? I have tried to establish its provenance various times without success. Anyway, like many quotes that were not actually said, it has lapsed into myth. Even though Walter Landor never said “products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind,” and just as Archimedes probably did not shout “Eureka” jumping out of his bathtub, people would rather believe they did.