How many pirates can you name?  I’ll bet the first (and maybe only) one is Blackbeard. That is a testament to Blackbeard’s genius at branding!  The foundation of this genius is Blackbeard’s consistent alignment of his branding with his “company’s” mission.  And Blackbeard’s genius offers us all a Lesson Found.

Blackbeard: Pirate & Branding Genius

In her TED talk on design, Alice Hawthorne describes how Blackbeard’s brand was unmistakable from his menacing appearance.  This included pistols strapped across a long, heavy coat and matches on his hat which blazed as he boarded targeted ships.  For his logo, Blackbeard appropriated the skull-and-crossbones which his victims instantly recognized for the death threat it was meant to convey.  This branding very clearly reinforced Blackbeard’s mission of hijacking ships for their booty while minimizing “expenses” in the form of ammunition and causalities.

Every action Blackbeard took reinforced his brand and kept his “business” on track toward its mission. (And it’s not a stretch to believe Blackbeard made sure his “staff” knew and were well trained to attain this mission!) This Lesson Found resonates three-hundred years later.  Everything your business and employees do is your branding and should be driven by your brand derived from the company’s mission.  Of course, this means your mission must be made clear and documented in the form of mission, core values, vision or similar statements.  And your employees should regularly be reminded of the company’s mission as well as trained to affirm your brand.  After all, wouldn’t you like your brand to be so memorable that people are still talking about it three hundred years from now?

What element of your company’s branding do customers remember and how well does it align with your company’s mission statement?

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you.  Thus, this first of weekly Lessons Found.   

Did you recently receive the gift of a Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business?  We would love to hear about it. Let Mark know by sending him an email: