Without Googling for answers, see if you can guess how many of the following brand names were/are actual people:
Ben and Jerry
Answers are below:
Aunt Jemima – Not real. The brand, currently owned by Quaker Oats, was inspired by an old minstrel song from 1875; the pancake mix debuted in 1889.
Ben and Jerry – Real. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, childhood friends, founded their ice cream company after completing a correspondence course in Ice Cream Making in 1977. Hey, who says distance education doesn’t work?
Betty Crocker – Not real. Even though Fortune magazine named her the second most popular woman in America in 1945, behind Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty is the name first developed by the Washington Crosby Company in 1921 as a way to give a personalized response to consumer product questions.
Chef Boy-Ar-Dee – Real. Italian immigrant Ettore “Hector” Boiardi opened his restaurant in Cleveland in 1924. People began asking for his recipes and ingredients, and in 1928 he opened a factory to produce them. He changed the spelling of his name to help Americans pronounce it.
Duncan Hines – Real. Mr. Hines was an American pioneer of restaurant ratings for travelers, based on his experience as a traveling salesman. He began publishing directories for great places to eat and lodge in 1955. He introduced his own bread line in 1952 and subsequently licensed his name to a wide variety of people – one of whom made cake mix. And the rest, as they say…
Marie Callender – Real. Marie Callender lived in Orange County, California where she was locally famous for her freshly-baked pies that she delivered to local restaurants in the 1940s. Her son Don opened the first Marie Callender’s pie and coffee shop in 1964.
Martha White – Mixed. The brand was established by Nashville businessman Richard Lindsey in 1899. He named it for his daughter, Martha White Lindsey.
Orville Redenbacher – Real. And yes, that was him on the TV commercials back in the day. And yes, he made popcorn the passion of his adult life.
Sister Shubert – Real. Patricia “Sister Shubert” Barnes started her bread baking company in her hometown of Troy, Alabama in 1989. She wrote a delightful story about her passion for baking for Guideposts Magazine, which you can read here.
Uncle Ben – Not real. The brand was introduced in 1943 for a line of parboiled rice products by Mars, Inc. The character on the box is said to be that of Frank Brown, a maître de in Chicago.
What’s in a Name?
If I’m shopping for a cake mix (okay, who laughed?), I don’t feel any obligation to buy Duncan Hines because he was a real dude or to feel violated by Betty Crocker being, well, a crock. People a lot smarter than I am figured out that people would rather buy a product from a pretty lady we know isn’t real than from a nameless, faceless corporation we know is real.
In short, the name says something. It communicates an expectation, an image, an experience. And the real people behind these names have spent an enormous amount of capital to establish a brand that’s desirable – what’s called by that wisest of businessmen Solomon, “a good name.”
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).
What’s in YOUR Name?
Here’s a thought question to toss around when you’re bored on a long trip. If somebody were to put your face on the outside of a product, what kind of product would it be? If Aunt Jemima means pancakes and Sister Shubert’s means yeast rolls, what does Brother YOU represent?
In other words, what are you branded by?
You probably should pay attention to that. Like Patricia Barnes said about her brand, all her professional ambitions were to help her daddy in his furniture business. Baking rolls was a hobby. The market had other ideas, and in a time of need she found her “calling.”
You have a way of seeing yourself. The people you encounter have a way of seeing you also. Sometimes those visions agree. Often they don’t. Robert Louis Stevenson and Mahatma Gandhi were both educated as lawyers. Their “market” had other ideas. Fortunately they both paid attention.
Pay attention to the testimony of “the market” around you to your “brand.” Sometimes others can see in you what you can’t see in yourself.
What’s in The Name Above All Names?
A lot more than a brand, though you may not know it from some of the marketing strategies of churches.
You have been given His name as a weapon in warfare, as a gateway to prayer, and as a basis for engaging with the world. You are His ambassador and regent, sent to enforce His victory and advance His kingdom on earth.
If it’s true that a good name is to be desired above all riches, how much richer is the name that is above every name, which has been freely given to you? That is the ultimate trust.
YOU are His marketing strategy.
YOU are His strategic plan.
YOU are His brand placement.
YOU determine His market share.
This is no consumer product we’re talking about. It’s a relationship with the One who has given you the greatest of gifts – He has given you His name.
And that’s as real as it gets.
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