...goes a long way, especially when I'm thinking about brands, brand management and the power of brands to build successful organizations and careers.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The difference between brand and stereotype

I just finished reading Denison, Iowa, a fascinating book by Dale Maharidge about the transformation of small-town Iowa in the wake of increasing Latino immigration. The subtitle says it all: “Searching for the Soul of America Through the Secrets of a Midwest Town.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning Maharidge tells the story of the year he spent in the tiny (pop. 8,000) northwest Iowa town of Denison, hometown of the late actress Donna Reed, the Donna Reed Museum, the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts and two meatpacking plants. And, as the book documents, it's also home to a certain amount of underlying racism, lies, fear, pride, courage and, ultimately, glacier-like change that make up many small towns in flyover country.

As I read the final third of the book this evening, I also watched one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans. You may remember Remember the Titans was about how a newly integrated football team in 1970's northern Virginia struggled with the same issues, ultimately overcoming them and winning the state championship.

While reading and watching, I came upon an interesting brand management lesson.

Q: What’s the difference between a brand and a stereotype?
A: Truth.

Brands are based on experience; stereotypes, on ignorance.

The movie ended on an upbeat note. Once Denison gets a chance to read the book, think about what was written and consider its truths, I have high hopes that it will start a winning drive, too.

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