If she had the time, Stuart Kronauge could probably teach a master class in calendar management.

As senior vice president of brand marketing for Coca-Cola North America, Kronauge’s responsibilities include the short- and long-term strategic management of the company’s largest brands, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta, POWERADE, DASANI, Gold Peak, smartwater, vitaminwater and more.

It’s the latest assignment in a nearly 20-year career at Coca-Cola that includes stints with the Walmart team, customer marketing group and more.

But don’t let Kronauge’s varied and deep biography fool you. She says she’s still learning every day.

She sat down recently with Coca-Cola employees for an informal Q&A session to share career advice and thoughts about brands, loyalty and culture. Here are highlights from the conversation.

Stuart Kronauge

Amy Sparks

You’ve been in your current role for about a year. You have responsibility for both sparkling and still beverages. What are the differences in working those two areas?

There are a lot of differences. But generally, working with sparkling is more of a traditional marketing job, with all of the marketing responsibilities you would expect. Stills is more like running a company. The responsibilities tend to be broader. It’s more like you are building a business than building a brand.

With such a diverse portfolio, where do you decide to put your marketing muscle?

Needs differ from brand to brand. There is no “one size fits all.” A big brand like Coke needs big, impactful actions and detailed execution like FIFA, the Olympics, Taste the Feeling. But with Mello Yello, we concentrate on motorsports, where we know the audience loves citrus drinks. We do a lot with digital and TV. The key is to use your muscle in the ways that make you relevant in the lives of consumers. We have to constantly drive connection. We don’t want to interrupt their lives. We have to be part of their lives.

Stuart Kronauge

You’ve talked about creating relevance. Do you think brand loyalty is declining in consumer products?

In all of our lives, there are things we think about, and there are things we just do. Brand loyalty is in the area of things you just do. I think society in general is less loyal that we were five or ten years ago. So it comes back to relevance: relevance in pricing, relevance in messaging, relevance in reconfirming what value means. I would say that loyalty is harder to achieve than I’ve seen at any time in my career. We have to work very hard to earn it, and to keep it.

'I would say that loyalty is harder to achieve than I’ve seen at any time in my career. We have to work very hard to earn it, and to keep it.'

Do any accomplishments stand out from your first year in this role?

I think it would be the teams we have created, and how people have come together. I could cite a lot of examples. But one is Gold Peak. Five years ago, it was an afterthought. Now we’re growing at double digits, and overtaking the category leaders.

People look at marketing, and think it sounds glamorous.  Actually, it’s really hard. The product failures tend to wash up on our shores. Looking at the first year, I am very happy with the fact that we have teams of smart and dedicated people who are committed to winning.

If the Stuart of today could give advice to the Stuart just starting out at Coca-Cola, what would it be?

I think if there was one thing I could tell myself when I was just beginning, it would be to create that balance I talked about. Don’t push so hard.  I made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am. I missed a lot of things, particularly with my kids. I wasn’t there for a lot of first-grade plays. I remember showing up late for a sports event my daughter was in, and she said “Look – a unicorn sighting!” We laugh about it now, but I still remember it. It wasn’t good. I think it affects how I manage. I remember where I came from and how I got here. And I try to keep in mind the impact of what I ask for.