Any damn fool

«Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.»

David Ogilvy (1911-1999)

With such a quote to begin with, it is obvious that I can only speak of two things: deals or brands.

I hope your bets were on the second one as I will be talking about brand and the tea world.

According to the American Marketing Association Dictionary, brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

But this is not all, a brand is also something else, it is a promise made to the buyer that he/she buys something special or solid or good or… and this is what we will be dealing with here.

A brand has :

  1. some unique attributes (a brand is known for being expensive, cheap, long lasting…) ,

  2. some unique advantages (this is the message behind each attribute),

  3. some values (a brand is the mirror of the company that created it),

  4. a culture (a Japanese brand is not at all like an American one),

  5. a personality (what would you associate this brand with?),

  6. some specific buyers (a brand is linked to a specific set of people that are expected to be suited for it).

As you might have guessed, this list comes from a marketing book I had as a student (Marketing Management by Kotler & Dubois, 9th Edition) but I just wrote it down there as a reminder of what a brand is.

Now you might ask me how does this relate to tea because we all drink teas and you don’t drink brands (although some of us only drink tea from one or several specific companies because they are who they are (isn’t this a brand thing?))

You can see it that way but I don’t think it is simple like that, otherwise why would some people only drink Darjeeling (you can write here Chinese, Taiwanese or any other tea producing country)? or teas from a specific estate? or only one kind of tea?

Let’s spend a little time on this example and don’t forget that all the things I write are my ideas not the truth.

What is a Darjeeling tea? According to the Tea Board of India and its Geographical Indication for this type of tea:

“the definition of Darjeeling Tea has been formulated to mean tea that:

  • is cultivated, grown or produced in the 87 tea gardens in the defined geographic areas and which have been registered with the Tea Board;

  • has been cultivated, grown or produced in one of the said 87 tea gardens;

  • has been processed and manufactured in a factory located in the defined geographic area; and

  • when tested by expert tea tasters, is determined to have the distinctive and naturally occurring organoleptic characteristics of taste, aroma and mouth feel, typical of tea cultivated, grown and produced in the region of Darjeeling, India.”

Source : Tea Board of India,

This definition is good but not enough to tell us if Darjeeling is a brand or not.

If we read it, we can summarize it into an unique set of attributes (quality, distinctive taste and aroma, grown in a specific place), advantages (you get a good deal for your money, you have a good tea, you can trace it to where it was grown) and values (the Champagne of tea).

To find the three other items, we have to think a little about the background of this tea.

Looking at its history and even its current organisation, it is easy to see that Darjeeling is a product of the British Empire. We now have the culture (a British Empire/British India one)

Based on all the previous lines, we can guess a personality (traditional, high quality, British), which helps us to define or to imagine what a specific customer for this tea might be (someone a little bit snobbish but still wanting a high quality product).

With this we managed to go through all the 6 items that makes something a brand and we can now say that Darjeeling is indeed a brand.

So next time you drink a tea, stop for a minute and see if your favourite tea country, type of tea or even estate would qualify as a brand.

And guess what? the answer could be yes.


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