It’s been done countless times before, some do it because of ego, others do it because it makes business sense, and many do it out of nepotism and favoritism. Instead of the catcalls from the gallery, “You’re the man”, when is it OK to hear, “You’re the brand”? A lot less frequently than you might think.
Orville Redenbacher, Jimmy Dean and Victor Kiam; remember Victor liked Remington Razors so much he bought the company – were all memorable parts of their brands because they were passionate about the products they hawked. It’s not very often we recommend a brand be built around a person, let alone an owner. The risks can be greater than the rewards, and the business case can be as flimsy as a cheap umbrella in a Chicago windstorm. But when it makes sense, and the sales team and the marketing squad stop cracking helmets and become united in their promotional and merchandising beliefs, let’s just say it can be a touchdown.
Meet Larry Alsum – business owner, CPA, innovator, steward of the land, farmer and gentleman, which then makes him a gentleman farmer. He’s the President of Alsum Farms & Produce that sells hundreds of produce items throughout the country to the likes of Piggly Wiggly, Woodman’s, Roundy’s, Aldi’s, Meijer’s and countless wholesalers. He’s not only the man behind the brand, but he’s now the man on the brand. Why? Let me count the ways. First, Larry Alsum passes the 5P test of owner as brand. No, not those 5Ps, but these:
- Passionate – his enthusiasm for farming, sustainability, tubers and putting high quality foods on the tables of Americans is “electric”, in an environmentally-friendly sort of way, of course
- Proficient – he’s knowledgeable about farming and produce; in other words, Larry Alsum puts the ag in swag
- Pertinent – like they say, you have to be relevant if you want to be the brand, and right now, farmers are relevant; don’t you want to know where you’re food comes from?
- Principled – being trustworthy is the price of admission; Larry is as well-grounded and down-to-earth as his produce
- Polite – yes, that goes without saying, but notoriety can be a little invasive and you need to be able to deal with the fame
Second, we can talk all we want about the importance of brand ambassadors, but when you’re the owner and on the label, you’re more than an ambassador, you’re the commander-in-chief, and that takes patience – the bonus 6th P – even if the brand isn’t moving quite as fast as you might want it to. Third, make certain there’s a little bit of reluctance on the part of the brand owner. For me, if they’re too eager, it might be difficult managing the expectations. Finally, ask yourself this question, “If being the model of consistency is, well, consistency, can you handle the long haul?” In other words, can we make the case of having Larry Alsum be on packaging, at trade shows, on direct mail pieces, P.O.P., the website, videos, digital ads and the like? We already have, and the feedback is terrific. However, because Larry stands 6’-4” tall, those life-like cutouts are running on the pricey side.