Brand Building Through Legacy Sharing

Legends Tell Marketing StoriesI just returned from a truly inspirational trip to Dublin, Ireland.  It may be the Emerald Isle, and has certainly earned that title, but for me it was the land of story telling.  Every cab driver, restaurant host and store clerk had a story to tell and were anxious to do so. Without any prompting we were entertained and educated about the history steeped throughout the city. The changing weather, a worn out wall or a decorated door were all stepping off points for tales large and small.

It dawned on me – legends and legacies really are the heart of the people of Ireland. And perhaps surprisingly, they are at the heart of who we are as businesses. They are in many very real ways our brand. More than the look of our logo or our color palette – our legends and legacies tell our brand story.

The most effective brands differentiate not on their offering alone, but by the culture of the company. They actively tell their story – in store signage, on their website, in the press and through client interactions. Take a look at how these three brands have made their legends part of their appeal.

  • 3M – Post-It notes are functional. We have all used them. But do you know how they were created? Legend has it that 3M gives their employees unstructured time to innovate. To come up with ideas, build prototypes and pitch new concepts. It was an employees independent exploration that lead to this long-term, money-maker for 3M and a lifetime reputation for employee empowerment.
  • Johnny Cupcakes – I was introduced to Johnny Cupcakes recently by a co-worker who swung by my desk and shared the Johnny Cupcakes brand story book. I like a good cupcake so why not take a minute and get to know them? To my disappointment Johnny Cupcakes is not a bakery. They sell t-shirts. Funky, fun t-shirts.  What made them stand out to me was their brand story. Johnny started selling t-shirts out of his car. His funky designs were a quick hit and people loved the association to his nick name “Johnny Cupcakes”. Soon Johnny opted to open retail stores. With clever packaging he has a thriving family business and devoted clients.  Johnny Cupcakes attire, despite demand, are not sold in any retail stores but his own. The products, the staff , the website and stores are all a piece of Johnny. And that is part of his success.
  • Life Is Good – If you don’t know the story of Life Is Good you’ve been missing out. It is a rags to riches story of two founders who were seriously down on their luck. They were broke with no prospects in site. They made a conscious decision to think positive and made a few shirts that simply said Life Is Good with a silly cartoon. They sold them on the street to make food money.  Soon these two out of luck men found themselves with a hit. A hit that has led to an entrepreneur’s success story. And true to their roots Life Is Good is all about optimism even in times of distress.

For each of these brands their legends are more than internal rallying cries. They are messages that compel buyers to seek out the brand.

What are your legends? How are you sharing them with the world?