If you’ve got a minute, let me tell you a story…

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Image a Burt's Bees Tin
Recognise this beard? It’s the famous Burt Shavitz

As a savvy marketer I’m sure you already know that brands have been using the art of storytelling for years.

Marketing teams have become experts at using stories – and the characters within them – to build their brands and create emotional connections with their audiences.

Some famous faces

Some of the most successful character stories are in the food sector, where Ben & Jerry’s, Papa John’s Pizza and good old Colonel Sanders rely heavily on their stories to wrestle our hard earned money from us.

And the stories don’t even have to be true. For instance, do you remember Levi Roots? He’s the now millionaire food entrepreneur who secured £50k on the TV show Dragons Den. The money he secured was to build his ‘secret’ Reggae Reggae BBQ Sauce brand which, according to Roots, had been handed down to him from his Jamaican Grandmother. To add to the authenticity of his story, Roots also explained how he had been selling it at London’s Notting Hill Carnival for 15 years.

But later during a legal battle with his ex-business partner, Roots admitted his brand story was simply “a marketing ploy”. Nonetheless his ‘ploy’ worked brilliantly. In its first week on national sale, Roots shifted over 50,000 bottles. Since then Reggae Reggae Sauce has had tie-ins with brands such as JD Wetherspoon, Birds Eye, Morrisons, Domino’s Pizza and KFC to name just a few.

Anyway, if you like stories about interesting people that sometimes develop interest brands, have a read of this. It’s about Burt Shavitz, co-founder of Burt’s Bees, who died on July 5th, aged 80.

It is the fascinating story about how one very humble guy, with help from his girlfriend, built a business valued at almost $1 billion. And who’s face and story are at the heart of the brand.