All You Need to Know About Brand Management, Courtesy of Dave Thomas



When Dave Thomas opened the first Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers in 1969, he sought to build a marketing campaign based on some principles that apply to every start-up. He succeeded in developing a niche in fast food that made Dave Thomas’ legacy a ten-fold lesson for every small business (and even the big ones).

  1. Make a product people want. If there’s no market for it, it won’t sell no matter how great your marketing efforts.
  2. Tell the people why they want your product. This is where you tell them why your product is better than what’s already out there.
  3. Give your company a face and a personality. Dave Thomas used his own face and down-to-earth personality to grow his brand, and now his daughter, Wendy, is continuing that tradition.
  4. Grow when it makes sense. Thomas didn’t take on Wendy’s growth by himself; in 1973 he began to sell franchises.
  5. Surround yourself with people who believe in your product. Wendy’s went from a family business to a franchise that replicated a growing family.
  6. Don’t apologize for success. Thomas made sure that he gave back to his community, and he even established a foundation that supports adoption. But, Thomas was also famous for saying, “Profit is not a dirty word.”
  7. Pay attention to details. Back at the Wendy’s helm in 2000, Thomas shared his chain’s secret for great fries, which he developed: shaking off ice crystals before frying. He called it slaking, and he thought it was a detail that made his product better than all the others.
  8. Tell your story. Dave Thomas was a busy man, yet he still made time for any size media outlet wanting an interview. He had a rags-to-riches story that people loved, and he knew it.
  9. Make your company self-sufficient. Like Thomas, it’s possible for any business owner to have constant input in every aspect of his company. Also, though, learn to delegate. (See No. 5.)
  10. Keep your perspective. Being a household name and one of the most recognizable people in the country didn’t affect Dave Thomas’ personable nature, which was an essential part of the Wendy’s brand.

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