How brand history can grow your business

History can grow business (photo-Rob Melnychuk)

Traditionally, consumers like what they know and understand. The more a potential customer can relate to a product and service, the more likely they are going to see its value in their lives. With so many small businesses looking for a way to stand out among the competition, one idea is to maximize the history of your product or service.

If you are a second or third generation owner of a business and you are looking to rejuvenate your sales, consider sharing the details of how your company began.

For instance, Moravian cookies are not only loved but are well-known by the history of the product. One company proving this case is Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian Cookies, dating back to the 1920s. The history or longevity of a product shows the product’s ability to sustain the test of time and appreciation by generations of customers.

Though you may feature this information online, have you considered using your product’s history as a marketing tool in your advertisement or public relations efforts?

Take the supermarket and restaurant industries. Think of the many grocery shoppers who spend time reviewing nutritional labels and those looking for menu items that are labeled heart-healthy. has researched ten food brands that give consumers access to information on the origins of their products’ ingredients. While these efforts are baby steps toward true traceability — and critics are somewhat justified in their assertion that images of verdant fields and smiling farmers are little more than marketing tools — smart brands are nonetheless moving in the direction of increased transparency.

1. Stone-Buhr — Buyers of Stone-Buhr’s All Purpose Flour can type in a lot code on the company’s website to see which family farms grew the grain. Stone-Buhr’s emphasis is on spotlighting the family-owned farms in the Northwest who supply it with certified sustainable wheat.

2. Coca-Cola — In the UK, Coca-Cola launched a web app that allows consumers to trace the origin of their can or bottle of Coke. Instead of divulging the sources of ingredients, Coca-Cola focuses on manufacturing locations, distribution and environmental impact. It estimates the carbon footprint of a drink, and shows the address of the factory it was made in.

3. Askinosie — Missouri-based chocolate maker Askinosie invites customers to enter a ‘Choc-O-Lot’ number to view the chocolate’s geographical origin, as well as information about the farmers who grew the cocoa beans. The tool highlights the company’s commitment both to quality and to a fair deal for farmers. Askinosie buys directly from farmers in Mexico, Phillipines, Tanzania and Ecuador, and doesn’t purchase beans until they’ve met the farmers in person.

4. Dole Organic — Dole lets consumers “travel to the origin of each organic product”. By typing in a fruit sticker’s three-digit code on Dole Organic’s website, customers can find the story behind their banana or pineapple. Each farm’s section on the website includes background info, shows photos of the crops and workers and tells consumers more about the origin of Dole’s organic products.

5. Chippindale Foods — Chippindale Foods supplies free range eggs to supermarkets in northern England. The company created to allow consumers to find out where their eggs were laid. After entering the code printed on an egg carton, people can view pictures of ‘their’ farmer and hens, and read a history of the farm.

6. Frito-Lay — Another big brand that’s embracing traceability is Frito-Lay. Its Chip Tracker lets consumers trace where a particular bag of chips was made, by entering their ZIP code along with the first three digits of the bag’s product code. The site returns a specific location along with its annual output. An associated map, meanwhile, highlights both growing and production facilities.

7. Fresh Express — A subsidiary of Chiquita Brands and purveyor of washed and packaged salad greens, Fresh Express allows consumers to find the origin of their salad through a ‘Leaf Locator’ on the company’s website. Fresh Express sources leafy greens from five US states and Mexico, and includes details on a location’s climate, growing season and agricultural history.

8. Crop to Cup — Through Crop to Cup’s website, consumers can trace their coffee back to the farmers who produced it. Drinkers of Uganda Bugisu coffee, for example, can read a profile of Peter Guimuii, who is married, has six children and approximately 5,000 coffee trees. The detailed personal information provided underscores Crop to Cup’s goal of improving farmers’ livelihoods.

9. Domino’s Pizza — Pizza lovers don’t enter product codes on ‘Behind the Pizza’, which was created by Domino’s to give consumers more information on how their pizza ingredients are made. While the site does show manufacturing plants and farms it works with, the focus here is more on edutainment than targeted transparency.

10. Iglo — First featured on Springwise in 2008, ‘Woher kommt Ihr Spinat’ is still going strong. Created by Iglo, a European market leader in the frozen foods segment, the program gives consumers access to details on where their spinach came from. Offsetting its Big Brand reputation, Iglo displays pictures of the spinach grower and his or her family, alongside information about the farm.

Want to grow your brand’s awareness and increase sales? Consider going back in time to capture your products’ history to re-introduce the value of your offerings to consumers anywhere.

Just A Thought: History of The Chronicles of Narnia

One challenging topic to explain to your children can often be faith. But an extraordinary man decided he would tackle such an intangible subject, his own Christian faith and bring it to life in a series of children’s stories. The man was C.S. Lewis.

The book is, “The Chronicles of Narnia.” This Friday, December 10th, the fifth chronicle in the series of seven stories, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” sets sail on the big screen nationwide.

In truth, The Chronicles of Narnia has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage, and cinema. In addition to numerous traditional Christian themes, the series borrows characters and ideas from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales.

What you may or may not know is that Lewis’ story, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardbrobe,” is actually the second chronicle. The first is, “The Magician’s Nephew.”

But the order you find the chronicles in the collection of Narnia stories is not based on the order Lewis wrote the stories. Rather, the order is based on a little boy’s advice to Lewis in a letter.

In 1957 an American boy wrote C. S. Lewis to ask about the best order for reading The Chronicles of Narnia. The boy’s mother believed the books should be read in order of their publication, beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

But the boy thought it would be better to read them in order of Narnian history, beginning with the creation of the enchanted world in The Magician’s Nephew.

C. S. Lewis wrote back to the boy, saying, “I think I agree with your order for reading the books more than with your mother’s,” and soon afterward the publishers began to number them in this way.

But Lewis, who had written bits and pieces of the books at different times, also noted that the order probably didn’t much matter: “I’m not even sure that all the [books] were written in the same order in which they were published.”

Below is the order the chronicles are found in the series along with the corresponding publishing dates:

* The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
* The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
* The Horse and His Boy (1954)
* Prince Caspian (1951)
* The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
* The Silver Chair (1953)
* The Last Battle (1956)

A fun or royal fact, as it were to note; Queen Elizabeth II braved the snow in London to attend the world premiere of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,’ where she met Liam Neeson and the rest of the film’s cast. (Dec. 1)

Speaking of trivia,, a website that is a part of Family Education Network offers a great deal of background, history, quizzes, features and a crossword puzzle on C.S. Lewis and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

If you can’t make it to the movie theater this weekend but want to give your kids (or the kid in you) something to enjoy and learn at the same time, here are some links offers.

Narnia: A Look Back

It’s been 55 (Earth) years since our first visit

C. S. Lewis

The man who created Narnia

The Chronicles

Which should you read first?

C. S. Lewis’s own chronology of Narnian history

Feasts in Narnia

From toffee trees to Turkish delight

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Crossword

1 Across: The children kept warm in coats made of this

Here’s a few other extras to keep your brain fed:

The international movie trailer of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” (in English)

Famous quotes from C.S. Lewis

U.S. Economists Stunned by Today’s Jobless Rate

Today, U.S. economists are stunned by November’s job loss rate. This is after 2 million Americans have seen an end to their unemployment benefits while 15.1 million people are still without a job.

U.S. employers added 39,000 jobs to their payrolls in November, the Labor Department reported. That marks a major slowdown from October, when the economy added an upwardly revised 172,000 jobs.

U.S. economists had expected November’s increase in jobs to be anywhere from 97,000 conservatively all the way up to 150,000.

While private businesses continued to hire for the eleventh month in a row, they also missed expectations. Companies added just 50,000 jobs to their payrolls in October, falling short of the 175,000 jobs economists had predicted for the sector.

As gains were primarily in the services industry, the retail sector surprised experts the most with the loss of 28,000 jobs in November.

The unemployment rate, which is calculated in a separate survey, unexpectedly ticked up to 9.8% after holding at 9.6% for the prior three months.