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Time to Make the Donuts

I grew up in a very small town of a little more than 1,000 residents. One of the best things in this tiny, no-stoplight town, was the bakery. It was run by an older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Engels, and the screen door made a satisfying “thwap” when it closed behind you. In moments, you were engulfed in the scent of freshly baked bread. The Bismarks were legendary. Mrs. Engels was all business at the counter, taking orders and exchanging donuts for dollars. Mr. Engels was in the back, making donuts and funny noises while he worked.

The dynamic duo retired and sold the bakery to a new owner. I grew up and moved to the big city. Despite the bakery burning down and being rebuilt it still retained a bit of small town charm and those...Bismarks! You see, the recipes always sold with the business and so, despite the bakery being owned by many different bakers over the years, the donuts were still delicious.

This small town bakery was something of a monopoly. Sure, you could get donuts at Walmart fifty miles away but, very few small towns in the area had an honest-to-goodness bakery. You could say they had the market cornered. Their buns were used for every funeral and their donuts were eaten with every happy occasion.

After I moved away, my mother would report on changes with the bakery. One owner got tired of getting up so early and decided instead to make the donuts the night before. When customers complained the donuts weren’t fresh, they admitted their folly.

One day, not long after, the donuts became very small, as if perspective itself had suddenly warped and no one would be able to tell they were getting half a donut for the full price.

The latest family to own the bakery seemed rather unhappy from the start. My mother asked if her weekly group could meet at the bakery and the baker reluctantly agreed. Eventually my mother’s weekly group found another location where they felt more welcome.

Then one day, the bakery closed for good.

It took my mother a couple of months to notice and tell me. Why would it take so long for her to notice? It’s a very small town.

The reason she didn’t notice is because she had stopped going.

Would you be missed if you were gone?

Here’s the bottom line. Brands are essential to free markets. They even matter in monopolies in which the next best thing is 50 miles away and baked by a corporation. We forget in our modern age that brands are still a vital way to distinguish quality. If the bakery is selling “day olds” as fresh, you stop going, or you complain. If the staff isn’t friendly, you find a new meeting place.

Brands matter. Reputations matter. Just as there are good recipes for donuts, there are good recipes for maintaining and improving your brand reputation in the marketplace. Contact the Brand Doctor to schedule a free 30 minute consultation and start perfecting your brand recipe today.

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