Turkey Business

My grandmother was one-quarter Cherokee, and was not-all-that-impressed by the loose translation of our Cherokee family name: “Running Turkey”. She always considered turkeys “not-so-smart” and would recant how a turkey would “sooner drown in the rain” because it wasn’t smart enough to come inside. Whether or not this is true, I have no clue. To her, “Running Turkey” was not a name of which she was proud.

Fast-forward almost a dozen decades and notice how far the Turkey has come. If you consider the Turkey as a brand — a business — he’s done pretty good for himself. He’s pretty much cornered the food market at Thanksgiving, thanks to Butterball and that Pilgrim story.  There’s even turkey tofu for vegetarians.

Mention the word “turkey” and all kinds of stories come to mind of events surrounding the 4th Thursday in November. The turkey brand now represents many things to many people — college break, parades, family, pies, football, shopping — with everyone having a “story” about what Thanksgiving means to them (some good, some not-so-much).

Every brand needs a story, and every brand tells a story — much like every business needs a mission, a purpose. Butterball isn’t selling turkeys — they are selling memories, as hinted at in the first sentence of their Mission: “Butterball provides great-tasting foods that inspire joyful experiences, bringing people together.” Every business should have a clear and succinct expression of its purpose — its reason for being — beyond the product it makes or the service it provides. Your mission becomes the story people tell when they talk about you.

Perhaps a “Running Turkey” is a good thing — especially if it runs faster than the farmer who wants to cook it. It all depends upon the story it wants to tell.

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