• 2019-04-02


How Everyday Leaders Build Irresistible Brands

How do you define a “legend”?

What qualifies someone or something to be described as “legendary”?

Are there specific qualities or attributes necessary that articulate how some person, place, event or object takes on a larger-than-life stature? 

The word “legend” is one of those fuzzy, intangible words in the English language that defies tangible description. It’s as though each one of us has our own interpretation or innate understanding of what that word really means and who or what we classify and designate as being worthy of “legendary” status.

LEG·​END - Remarkable enough to be famous or very well-known; admired by other people. Stories from ancient times about people and events, that may or may not be true.

Through the ages, legends have appeared to us in many forms, shapes, people and social contexts; from King Arthur to Robin Hood, Joan of Arc and the lost continent of Atlantis. History has provided as leaders such as Gandhi, Churchill, FDR, JFK and MLK. Hollywood has produced its share of legends like John Wayne, Judy Garland, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. From the scientific community, legends such as Galileo, Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein shifted how we see our world.  

Innovators like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers made permanent marks on our everyday life while athletic legends like Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky made us believe anything is possible when we follow our dreams. From artists like Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso, to musicians such as Elvis, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin and every legendary person, place or event in between, they serve to remind us of our God-given potential to reach for the stars. They provide us with a daily mental framework for helping us hone our talents and bring out our very best.

The business world has also witnessed its share of legends. 

From Walt Disney to Sam Walton. From Ray Kroc to Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and others, kings and queens of industry, media and technology have carved deep impressions for millions who seek to follow in their large footsteps. Virtually every business best-seller from Think and Grow Rich  to In Search of Excellence and Good to Great has focused on the deeds of entrepreneurs and leaders who found a way to scale an operation to dizzying heights, go public and reach the pinnacle of what success is supposed to represent. The aftermath of this corporate literature includes numerous follow up books, magazine cover stories and the requisite guiding principles and achievement models taught by business gurus and university professors all over the planet.

But, for mere mortals, the height of accomplishments by legends in business or any chosen field may seem utterly unattainable. 

From beyond the earthly definition of what’s truly impossible to the stratosphere of completely unthinkable. So far beyond our scope and grasp that it is light years beyond anything our imagination can even consider or conceive.

Which is why you might be curious about the impact, legacy and lessons from BIG LITTLE LEGENDS. 

BIG LITTLE LEGENDS are like all of the aforementioned luminaries but operate on slightly smaller scales. In other words, their accomplishments are still well within the range of what’s possible. With achievements that are much easier to imagine for any dreamer with aspirations of starting something special from anywhere.

By definition, BIG LITTLE LEGENDS are companies, people and communities that:

  1. Own a sizeable or much bigger share of the market in their specific competitive space.
  2. Display the qualities of enduring longevity.
  3. Make a positive, emotional difference to their communities.
  4. Enjoy a much-admired public reputation with a brand story that gets told and re-told by people who are happy to do so.  

In other words, these are the ones who have been around a long time, constructively impact the social-cultural order, are well-known beyond their local area codes and are both popular and highly prosperous. These are the real-life underdogs who punch way above their weight class, create substantial economic or social impact and do more than just reflect our current culture; they establish and reveal it while pointing us in new directions.

BIG LITTLE LEGENDS are the ones who started from nothing. 

They didn’t even have a spoon to begin with, let alone one made of gold or silver. From humble beginnings, they have also remained relatively small and true to their roots. In many cases, they have stayed privately or community owned, always guided by unshakeable vision and values. But along the way, these heavyweight contenders racked up the kind of financial results, staying power, social and cultural impact and top-of-mind brand awareness that separated them from the many other pretenders in their respective categories. 

BIG LITTLE LEGENDS were not always the biggest, the best or the first. 

They never played the game just to make money or become famous for the sake of a bigger bank account or celebrity status. Instead, they are the ones who broke down barriers, blazed trails, ignited the torch of the human spirit and didn’t just grow their enterprise through pulling typical corporate levers such as a new clever way to sell average, homogenized products at scale to a mass audience through traditional mass marketing. They didn’t rely on Big Data, IPO’s or become the biggest kid on the playground through merger and acquisition. Every one of these legends experienced growth, sustainability, public recognition and made a cultural footprint in a different, organic way. 

They have all re-defined the usual measures of success with the unwavering support of legions of customers and flesh-and-blood fans, genuinely touched by the stories of these enterprises and the very real human values their brands have come to represent.

Every new business owner or newly-minted community leader has the opportunity to reorder their world in some way. BIG LITTLE LEGENDS offers anyone the opportunity to achieve success on their own terms without selling their soul for the sake of commerce or fame. 

To be sure, the discipline of branding has seen giants like Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney, NIKE and Harley-Davidson achieve unparalleled top-of-mind recognition while adding considerable equity to the corporate balance sheet. This astronomical level of brand success has often been associated with massive financial investments in marketing and advertising, backed by plenty of corporate muscle, expensive expert resources and more than enough minions and hands-on-deck to handle the minutiae and many moving parts. But there are millions of small-to-medium sized companies and community leaders who lack those resources and find it difficult to find appropriate role models that can reveal what is truly possible. 

That’s why BIG LITTLE LEGENDS can serve a higher purpose than most other traditional business books that worship at the altar of metrics, systems, profit margins and ROI without ever making the connection between that which is both commercial and soulful. This book and the stories within, shows us what our brands could become in a way that reflects our own individual values and preferences. 

This book is on a mission to disrupt traditional business thinking, marketing know-how from so-called “experts” and dispel certain myths about what it takes to build an irresistible - and potentially - legendary brand.   Specifically, there are 5 Myths that we will highlight, illuminate and eradicate to help you become worthy of achieving legendary status within your category:
MYTH #1. You don’t have to be a big, global company with massive amounts of cash.  
MYTH #2. You don’t need to be a Hollywood celebrity, social media influencer or newsmaker who is constantly in the public eye.
MYTH #3. You don’t need fancy logos, cool graphics, clever marketing campaigns or advertising gimmicks.
MYTH#4. You don’t need to be incredibly intellectually gifted with super-model good looks and have the artistic or athletic talents of a child prodigy like Mozart or Tiger Woods.   
MYTH #5. You don’t have to be retired, dead or over 100 years old.

From a business perspective, becoming an alluring, and over time, legendary brand, can become a dominant force in any market. Customers are willingly drawn to an invisible, yet tangible energy that becomes too attractive, too tempting to be resisted. The long-term impact in our short-term world can be significant. Legendary brands never have to resort to “pushy” sales tactics, cheesy marketing gimmicks or follow “cookie-cutter” formulas stuck inside the lines of traditional, boiler-plate advertising. 

Legends never have to beg for business to come their way. Legends reveal new possibilities to replicate success like Frankie from Hoboken and achieve success your way.   

Think of BIG LITTLE LEGENDS as a philosophical and practical guide to build an irresistible brand that magnetically attracts people who yearn for something more meaningful, than just another product, service or a logo; an eternal spirit that connects us all.

Such is the power of legends.

“You only go around once, but if you play your cards right, once is enough” .


Photos by Zoltan Tasi and Cody Board on Unsplash

p.s…  I wanted to share this post as an introduction of sorts to the forthcoming book, BIG LITTLE LEGENDS - How Everyday Leaders Build Irresistible Brands. Working in conjunction with Vancouver-based Page Two Publishing, our team is hopeful that the book will be released by Fall of 2019, but I wanted you to be the first to know what we’ve been working on and exploring in a way that might inspire you to re-think what’s possible when it comes to making your brand irresistible.

p.p.s… There are rare occasions when I am invited to conduct a public session,  "The Branding Highway",  and it just so happens one of those takes place later this month in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Just wanted you to have the heads up in case you find yourself near the Stampede City on Friday, April 19th.  

Here are all the event details: