Our Greatest Generation’s Branding Lessons

USS Arizona – Pearl Harbor

Today, we’re remembering ‘those who gave some and some who gave all’ for our freedom on this 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Thank you greatest generation.

When you think about the trials our Greatest Generation (GG) overcame to ‘win the big one’ and come home to rebuild America into a global super power today’s challenges seem to pale in comparison.

I’m honored to say that several uncles of mine served in America’s military during World War II. Two uncles in particular taught me many life lessons – verbally, but mostly non-verbally. My Uncle Lambert was in a tank division in the Battle of the Bulge and my Uncle Tunny was part of the Army’s rescue detail in Germany’s Concentration Camps.   Their actions communicated so much more than words.

These people lived through – and overcame – terrifying times including the Great Depression, World War II the Cold War and were bombarded by the rapid succession of technological breakthroughs.

My uncles and aunts as well (Nell and Vi) taught my brothers and me that a lot of good can come from having endured tough times.

They taught us that forging ahead through rough times forces you to focus on securing your essential needs and learning to find ways to effectively work together and help each other.

Many of my clients are worried about how the aftermath of a tough presidential election and potential ‘financial cliff’ will impact their families and businesses. Fortunately for me, I have the lessons of my Uncle Lambert and Uncle Tunny (and Aunts) to guide me when I need to lead my clients through troubled waters and help them build strong, tough brands.

The main lesson my Greatest Generation relatives taught me was that, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people (and brands) do,” but here are 10 more that can help you build a strong, tough brand.

10 Brand Building Lessons from Our Greatest Generation (GG)

  1. Be self reliant – The GG always took personal responsibility for their lives and were self reliant.  They never (or rarely) complained about self sacrifices (physical, material) they made for their families, friends or country. And, they didn’t demand, much less expect or ask for handouts.
  2. Have class – Whatever my relations lacked in money, but made up for it in class. My uncles and aunts were always kind, respectful and appreciative. They had self respect and manners. My Uncle Lambert would always tell us that us that you don’t need a lot of money to look good and to keep your hair cut, be clean and shave (‘don’t look like  a bum’) – hah!
  3. Be frugal and resourceful – The GG always did more with less, never ran up huge debt and lived within their means.  They were handy too – my Uncle Tunny could fix anything. He was a lifelong butcher in a grocery store, but could have made a good (if not better) income as an electrician, carpenter or plumber..
  4. Be humble – The GG accomplished a ton over their lifespan and didn’t brag about their accomplishments. They merely did what they were expected to do. My uncles helped to rid the world of Nazi Germany, but rarely talked about their wartime experiences (only if encouraged) let along patted themselves on the back.
  5. Honor your word and commitments – The true essence of any brand is how it delivers on its promises. My uncles and aunts kept their promises and loved their families with fondness and lifelong loyalty. They took oaths and vows seriously.
  6. Never give up or give in – My Uncle Lambert (with the support of my Aunt Vi and Uncle Paul) never gave up when wartime injuries crippled him (he eventually lost both legs and his voicebox). After he returned home he became a successful entrepreneur. He never quit or complained about his physical limitations. And, he always maintained his gentlemanly manner.
  7. Work hard for the greater good – The GG were raised to take care of themselves (self reliant), but not in a selfish way. They worked hard to not only make their families secure, but their family’s family too. And, they knew that their communities would be strong if they were strong.  They were always willing to help a neighbor or those less fortunate even if they didn’t have much themselves.
  8. Embrace challenges and build solutions –  My uncles and aunts were like the rest of their generation whereby they helped to build solutions to any challenges they faced. Think about it, this generation created social security, unemployment compensation, pushed for regulations in the banking industry, supported labor unions and more.  Look at the Fraternal Benefit (Insurance) Societies – all started by immigrants or first generation Americans who could not get insurance.  They pooled their resources and figured out the problem themselves. They got involved – they showed up.
  9. Keep things simple and do the right thing – The GG didn’t make their lives complicated. Life was very much black and white – right and wrong – which makes life a bit more easy.
  10. Be happy with what you have. The GG valued simple pleasures of family, friends, a good job and security. They enjoyed what they had and their state in life. They didn’t focus on or complain about what they didn’t have, but valued what they did have – how refreshing.

If you’re going through some tough financial or brand building times right now, embrace the values of the Greatest Generation.

A lot of it is simple, basic common sense.

Don’t make things more complicated than they are and keep things simple.

Don’t sit around and complain or wait for someone to help you (divine intervention). Help yourself.

Get up and do things – the right things.

Focus on the most important task/s at hand.

Keep on keeping on and keep fighting the good fight.

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