Where brands come from can sometimes provide a very interesting and telling story. In fact, many brands like to either emphasize it if the origin is a great story, or downplay it if the origin story is not so great.
Let's go through a couple.
First, Dell has the origin story of Michael Dell working in PC help. He decided to start building computers because he thought he could build better ones than the ones out there. Apple started because there seemed to be a need for better computers and nobody in Jobs' day really saw the vision he had for the personal computer.
Facebook started as a simple college site to keep track of friends (and significant others) and quickly became the premiere social network of our time.
The discovery of rubber was an accident.
Adidas and Puma were founded by quarreling brothers, and Puma, the younger company, set up its shop directly across the river from his brother's workings in Germany.
Coke and Pepsi have interesting histories. Coca-Cola was founded by a man trying to cure his heroin addiction; he created Coca-Cola (which did have cocaine in it) in order to wean himself off the heroin. Pepsi-Cola was founded less than a decade later when its founder discovered how the kola nut and the pepsin enzyme could help aid digestion.
And now we come to Fanta.
Fanta, a Coca-Cola product, was introduced based off the byproducts of Coca-Cola. Fanta was created by Coke's main distributor in Germany during WWII. Coke was unable to ship its syrup and ingredients over to a country at war with its home country, so the German distributor had to get creative. He created an orange-flavored soda called Fanta, short for "fantastic" in German.
A major success.
Indeed, so successful that 75 years later, Fanta is alive and strong. What can be difficult, though, is celebrating its origin. Yes, the Coke company had to pull a German ad celebrating Fanta's 75th anniversary because the ad was telling people that they should go back to the "good old times" when Fanta was created.
Yeah, not so much.
All that being said, even big, successful brands like Coke can make a mistake. Sometimes origin stories can be a great idea. But take a step back and remember the history; sometimes it is best not to bring it back up.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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