“Writing is like mining for gold hidden in the hillsides of your mind.” – David Baboulene
Everyone knows the stories of their favorite brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Kashi, Tom’s of Maine, or Burt’s Bees. We have fallen in love with Colonel Sanders and Aunt Jemimah, not to mention Walt Disney. Not everyone chooses to see successful businesses as the money-making corporate engines that they really are. Especially when our favorite small companies are bought and absorbed by major corporations like Unilevel, Kellogg’s, Colgate-Palmolive, or Clorox while retraining the same, familiar, public face.
In the case of Milwaukee’s own Alterra Coffee the founders, Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller simply sold their “story” to the beverage division of Mars, Inc., a corporate giant with $33 billion in annual sales and 72,000 employees. The three friends started roasting coffee in 1993 and opened their first Alterra café in 1994. In 2010, they made a deal with Mars.
“Fundamentally, we sold the seven letters that make up the name Alterra,” says co-owner Lincoln Fowler. “They are going to use our brand, coupled with our expertise and intellectual property.” And they will continue to own the Milwaukee roasting facility and nine local cafés, but with a new name.
Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel reports:
But in buying the Alterra name, Mars can say, that its coffee was born in Milwaukee in 1993 when three friends, “working nights while keeping their daytime businesses afloat,” needed a strong brew. “In order to get it,” the Website declares, next to a thumbnail photo of the popular and historic lakefront cafe Fowler and his partners opened in 2002, “they decided that they had to roast their own — and ALTERRA™ was born!”
That’s the sort of yarn you can’t simply invent and feed to consumers.
But it was a yarn that could be sold to a bigger concern seeking to acquire something soulful.
Have you ever considered the value of your own business story? Trader Joe’s started out as a small chain of convenience stores back in the 1950’s. Nowadays, if you visit any of their stores or their Website, that story is displayed prominently in wall murals and as a timeline tale that celebrates their heritage.
Are you ready to discover and tell your own authentic story… with more than just words?
Almost every small business has a rich tale to tell. These stories are what make them unique and distinctive. Stories are why most people find small businesses more attractive than big, faceless corporations.
Business Management Consultant Myrna Cohn spent more than 3 decades advising major corporate clients on marketing tactics and strategies. Several years ago, she retired from her career in Chicago to a more relaxed agenda in Baileys Harbor where she paints and teaches memoir writing.
“Each and every successful business has a rich and engaging story to tell.” explains Myrna. “With the shift toward a social interactive landscape, advertising now becomes all about sharing that warm and friendly personal identity. What better way than to tell the story of how you got here?”