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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Still the One

After twelve (12) years and more than 135 posts and 14 rotating pages, Spartans are still the beast! They were number one in 2011 and again in 2015. Out of curiosity, the Brands in History stats department ran the numbers and confirm that the Spartan post is by far most viewed on this blog. To this day, there is something about the Spartan culture that absolutely keeps them top of mind when it comes to ‘brands in history’ and our collective memory. Although the film 300 didn't hurt.

What a great story that 300 men led another 3000 against a vast army estimated at somewhere between 500,000 and a million men. In modern times there is little such fortitude—at least not since the Alamo. In doing so they averted the absolute destruction of Athens, whose culture laid the groundwork for what would become western civilization. Had it not been for the Spartans, the western world might look very, very different (see It's all Greek to me).

Okay, but what other posts are popular? There have been some changes, Achilles has fallen out of favor and replaced by the number two favorite, Florence Nightingale. This lady with the lamp solidly earns her spot is one of two women in the top five, but not the only women having earned a place with Brands In History. Still, Nightingale was an interesting woman of her time—not only founding modern nursing, but that she was also quite a statistician, or that she never married. Nightingale believed she should devote her life to Godly work. 

The number three slot goes to Alexander the Great. He and Nightingale helped displace Achilles. Not a surprise, really. Alexander is a huge figure from history—both fact and fiction make him a branding force to be reckoned with. Let's face it, he conquered much of the known world of his day. When he died, his generals split up that world, which leads us to number four—Cleopatra, the other woman in the mix. 

The opening paragraph in this popular post says it all: "Cleopatra was the naughty minx of Egypt who wasn't afraid to commit her assets to win an objective. She was simply one of history's deliciously bad girls who consciously and brilliantly cultivated her brand." Her connection to Alexander? Cleopatra descended from Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals. 

And then there is the Red Baron. He's held the number five slot for all 12 years. Oddly, five is the same number of air-to-air victories required to become a flying ace. The Baron's full name was Baron Manfred von Richthofen and he is the most enduring brand from the First World War. His mark on history is the fact that he alone racked up 80 air combat wins during the war in less than three years. He is still universally regarded as the "Ace of Aces" and studied by aviators. 

A little note on all these is that each comes from the first year of Brands in History. They were all written in 2011. But the real takeaway here is that the popularity of these figures reveals what we admire: The heroism of the Spartans, the compassion of Nightingale, the vision of Alexander, the determination of Cleopatra, and skills of the Red Baron. The other thing it teaches us is that the past is so much more than dates, mummies, or dusty artifacts. These were people who often had an acute sense of their public images and how to mold their personas. They were the first brand experts.

You are invited to explore all the entries on this blog—and maybe discover something you did not know. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

A big and bright brand

Newbies and visitors don't get it until they've spent some time in Texas. It takes a while to acclimate to the can-do-attitude—that around every corner is an opportunity, and that everyone is a friend (until they're not). It's a place where people are proud of their heritages, be they of Asian, African, Hispanic, or European decent. Just put in a good day's work and love your family and you're golden. But there is something else. Texas has the singular distinction among US states that it was once a sovereign country. That's what feeds the sense of independence among residents. 

March 2nd marks Independence Day for Texas, when she officially broke away from Mexico ruled by a despot. It also lit the fuse for some big moments in history, the first being the siege of the Alamo in Sant Antonio, Texas. There followed moments of heroism and horror, all culminating in the Battle of San Jacinto. It all combines to represent the epic struggles between freedom fighters and despotism—the fall of valiant forces hopelessly outnumbered. 

There were close calls, like the Texas provisional government being on the run ahead of a massive army. Few non-Texans realize that on the night before the great battle at San Jacinto, Mexican forces nearly captured the president of Texas, who narrowly escaped by canoe along the Buffalo Bayou, reaching an old riverboat to chug him toward a fortified Galveston. Even fewer realize that Texas forces were bracing for a slaughter. But it was an odd turn of events on a prairie near Brays Bayou that revealed Santa Anna's strategy—and his error in thinking. That moment turned the tide for Texas, setting the stage for an epic victory on the 21st of April, 1836.

Texas icons of its struggle for independence have become brands of history in their own rights. The Alamo, Sam Houston, and Jim Bowie. Why, even Texas herself is a brand all her own. The entries listed below hint at what makes the Lone Star State so unique, not only in the minds of her citizens, but also around the world. And why, when someone utters the word, Texas, the mind swirls in a torrent of expectation. 

Therefore, submitted for your approval...Texas!

Remembering the Alamo - As Thermopylae is to most Greeks, so is the Alamo to most Texans. And while the Alamo is one of two defining moments which helped establish the Texas brand identity, the Alamo is its own stand alone brand. Click here to understand how.

Sam—I am no Wellington - Sam Houston lived many lives, but it was in Texas that he met his destiny as a commander, and as president. Click to learn more about this unusual hero.

Now that's a knife - Jim Bowie earned his legendary reputation with his signature knife long before the Alamo. Click to find out why he may be the toughest man in history.

Celebrating a really big brand - Texas! The very sound of that word evokes an expectation. Click to learn what makes the Lone Star State such a big brand.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Branded Women

Women make up some of history's most fascinating characters, turning accepted convention of their day flat on its ear, and forcing modern readers to rethink "traditional" female roles. Yeah, these women were anything but conventional. They kicked the idea of a "man's world" squarely in the jewels.

Forged by Fire...  Joan of Arc: The original Iron Maiden and perhaps the toughest woman in history. Oh, and she was merely a teen.

The Lady with the Lamp  Florence Nightingale lit the way for modern nursing, feminism, and statistical investigation.

The Wrath of Mom... Warrior Queen Boudicca wreaked havoc on Roman forces in Celtic Briton, following outrageous and deplorable Roman acts on her family and tribe. See how this forceful woman pulled together scores of allies against a would-be indomitable enemy.

Lost Brand...  Amelia Earhart flew into history like that girl that rolls into your life with thunder, and she abandoned us just as suddenly. What she carved out, however, was a path for women pilots to come and an unsolvable mystery.

Cleopatra—Girl Had Skills... She was simply one of history's deliciously bad girls, yet she consciously and brilliantly cultivated her brand like no other woman in history.  

Only Spartan Women Give Birth to Real Men  At the bottom of the entry on Spartans, there is a significant extra on Spartan women. It is highly recommended.