Monday, February 13, 2012

Story time

Recently a friend of mine on Facebook posted a recommendation for Benson Backpacks and a link to their site.

I didn't need a new backpack, but something about the post intrigued me, so I took a look. What I found was a great product with a great story, the two key ingredients to any business.

Now don't get me wrong, you need a lot of things to create a successful business – dedication, hard work, good timing, and a great accountant – but in my mind your product and your story are the foundation and everything is built from there.

In the case of Benson Backpacks, the product is nice, but without the story of this Tanzanian porter and his struggle to educate his children, I have no real reason to buy their backpack over the thousands of other options I have from companies like The North Face, Timbuk2, Easton and others. Conversely, while the story is inspiring, if the product were junk, I wouldn't pay a dime.

Great companies have a mythology around them, an oral history that gets told over and over, passed on from consumer to consumer building the legend and the brand. Nike does it. Apple does it. Google does it. And so does Benson Backpacks.

So today, I offer this simple lesson: You may have a great product. But if you don't have a great story, you'll never have a great brand.

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