Ben Franklin on Branding

The United States of America is as much a concept as it is a nation. Its symbols, messaging, and mission are very much part of its brand. As we approach July 4th, I thought it would be useful to hear from one of the Founding Fathers of that brand, Benjamin Franklin.

Michael Pilla: Mr. Franklin, you were known for your astute observations. How do you think branding applies to individuals and businesses today?

Benjamin Franklin: Ah, branding! In my time, it was about establishing a reputation built on trust and integrity. Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Otherwise, you might as well just go and fly a kite.

MP: How would you advise someone looking to build a strong brand?

BF: First and foremost, be true to your word. Reputation, once broken, may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep its eyes on it, and that can only be done by scouring a consistent display of honesty and reliability. Secondly, understand your audience and their needs. I adapted my writings and messages to resonate with different groups during my time, a successful brand today must speak directly to its target audience.

Did you know that I invented the stove?

MP: Speaking of inventions, How important is innovation in branding?

BF: Innovation is the lifeblood of progress. In my scientific, political, or entrepreneurial endeavors, I always sought new ways to improve and innovate. Similarly, in branding, one must constantly evolve and adapt to stay relevant. Embrace change, anticipate trends, and dare to innovate to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

I dictated much of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson just had superior penmanship.

MP: What role do you think storytelling plays in effective branding?

BF: Ah, storytelling! It captivates the mind and stirs the heart. Just as I used stories and anecdotes to convey my ideas and values, a compelling brand story creates an emotional connection with your audience. It’s not just about what you do or sell; it’s about why you do it and how it enriches the lives of others. A clear, well-crafted narrative can elevate your brand from being ordinary to extraordinary.

Clarity has always been of paramount importance, as when I was inventing the bifocals…

MP: Yes, I can see that. Lastly, Mr. Franklin, do you have any final words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals looking to build their brands?

BF: Remember, a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. Cultivate your character, uphold your principles, and let your actions speak louder than words. Seek to serve others, and in doing so, your reputation will grow naturally. And above all, persevere. Success in branding, as in life, often comes to those who persist in their endeavors.

Did I tell you about the stove…?


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