Josiah Wedgewood: The Brand Daddy

Imagine you’re a businessperson with a great product to sell but technology does not exist, so you don’t have the Internet or even a computer, for that matter. In fact, telephones haven’t even been invented yet so forget about call centers. And FedEx and UPS were non-existent, as was the airplane. What would you do to promote your brand?

In the mid-1700s, Josiah Wedgewood was in this situation. He came from a family of potters, but Josiah wanted to elevate his work to a higher level. Unlike the other potters at that time, Wedgewood put his name on every piece, and was known to smash anything that didn’t live up to his high standards. He knew the brand he wanted to convey and was unwilling to compromise.

Wedgewood made some bold moves along the road to becoming a huge success. He aimed for the elite market, the very top of the social ladder. He sent samples — completely unsolicited — to 1,000 of the wealthiest Germans of that era. More than half of those recipients placed an order for more. Can you imagine getting a 50 percent response rate?

Wedgewood never compromised his brand vision. He didn’t drop his price to reach the masses. And he knew where his market could be found, and the exceptional quality they demanded. He met their needs on every level — without compromise.

Josiah Wedgewood understood branding, long before it was even named that. Are you as protective of your brand vision as he was? And will your brand impact be as lasting as Wedgewood’s?
Check out more stories like this in Seth Godin’s book, “Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync?”.

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