How important are founders to brand authenticity? – RetailWire

Jul 26, 2022

Academic research reveals that while brand essence, or authenticity, ideally comes through an association with the creator, another indicator to measure essence is the recipe and manufacturing process.

The study from the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa explored the essence of the Ghirardelli Chocolate brand, whose founder, Domenico Ghirardelli, died in 1894.

Survey respondents were asked which type of Ghirardelli chocolate they would consider more authentic. One did:

  • Using Mr. Ghirardelli’s original recipe in a manufacturing facility built in 2000; Where,
  • At the original 1852 Ghirardelli factory in San Francisco with a different recipe.

More respondents opted for the original recipe made in a new factory because Mr. Ghirardelli developed this recipe and process himself.

“Consumers tell us that essence can be transferred from the creator using the process they developed, which is a codification of the essence of the founder,” said Chelsea Galoni, assistant professor of marketing at Tippie, in a communicated. “It connects the product to the founder and represents what the founder wanted.”

Previous research has explored how founder stories influence consumer brand perceptions.

Researchers from Boise State University and Virginia Tech in 2019 concluded that sharing a founder’s stories drives engagement and can improve brand authenticity judgments. Specifically, stories that highlight how a founder was driven by self-improvement or interested in the well-being of others enhance brand authenticity more than a founder driven by self-improvement.

The researchers added: “Understanding the values ​​of the target market also plays a role: consumers with higher self-transcendence values ​​are particularly more receptive to stories emphasizing these values. »

In his book“The authentic brand”, Chris Rosica, president of Rosica Communications, writes that the “combination of quality, care, responsibility and human touch ‘constitutes an authentic brand’ and suggested Dave Thomas, the late founder of Wendy’s, as an example of a founder using storytelling to foster authenticity.

Mr. Rosica wrote: “There are many faceless businesses that can achieve success using authenticity techniques; tell a compelling story and have the founders of the company or the leaders of the organization be the face(s) of this company. »

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of telling founders’ stories as a tool to enhance brand authenticity? What companies stand out for using their founder’s legacy to generate valuable messages?


“A founder’s story can be a great differentiator, but ultimately it’s about product + performance. A founder’s best mousetrap actually has to be a better mousetrap.”

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