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How three famous brands started
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How three famous brands started

How three famous brands started
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This is the fascinating story of how three famous brands started. Three very different stories but with a common theme. The first is Cadbury, founded in Birmingham in the UK in 1824 by a Quaker family– Quakers being a particular Christian sect. They sold tea, and coffee, and drinking chocolate, and George Cadbury developed a technology to make that drinking chocolate much purer. He built a new village for his workers, and Cadbury introduced Dairy Milk, its first big product brand, in 1905. Cadbury is now part of Mondelez International.
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And here is the Cadbury brand. Originally the idea was about purity, translated into action through products which, unlike their rivals, had no nasty additives to strip out cocoa fats. This was the technology that George Cadbury introduced. Cadbury had a very clear brand style, making use of emotional imagery, with children expressing purity.
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Our second story is about Apple, founded in California in 1976. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak pioneered the new idea of personal computers, selling them in kit form. Jobs came with a deep interest in the counter-culture and in Eastern philosophies. He introduced his second product, the Apple II, in 1977. This wasn’t a kit. This was the first computer that looked like an ordinary consumer product. And then Apple launched the Macintosh in 1984– the first successful computer with the kind of graphical user interface that we’re all used to now. And of course, now Apple is one of the world’s most valuable companies.
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And here’s what the Apple brand is all about– an idea to do with individualism, self-expression, creativity, that you could sum up as intuitive design translated into action through products that were much better designed, and much easier to use than their rivals, and with a very clear, distinctive style, because Jobs was passionate about design, and typography, and communication.
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And then our third story is Skype, created more recently– 2003– with its software developed in the little Baltic states of Estonia, a country that gained its independence only 12 years earlier– where people were, for the first time, free to communicate. Originally Skype was a free, video alternative to conventional phone calls. Now it’s a comprehensive range of communication services, and part of Microsoft. And here’s the Skype brand. The brand idea is all about doing things together whenever you’re apart, with an underlying purpose to break down the barriers to communication. The brand action– originally free video calls anywhere in the world.
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And the brand style– well Skype has a distinctive look and feel that’s intended to be, to use its words, “universal, useful and wonderful.” So what do these stories have in common? Well, they all offer a big technological innovation, but more interestingly, each comes from a specific value system– the Quaker business philosophy for Cadbury, Eastern-influenced counter-culture for Apple, and Estonia’s new freedom of speech for Skype. And I wonder how many brands have this kind of origin in social values.

Many brands derive their meaning from their earliest days. In this slideshow we’ll explore the origins of three famous brands. In each case, how far are those founding ideas still present in the brand today?

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The Secret Power of Brands

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