Powerful Branding on a Gravel Road in Texas

It was somewhere around 30 years ago. I was driving along a gravel road in the Texas Hill Country, heading down the “back way” to meet up with my canoe outfitter to float the Guadalupe River.  Suddenly, coming around a blind curve, I saw it! A classic Texas ice house.

Blogger Note: What the hell is a Texas Ice House ?” If you’re not from or haven’t lived in Texas a while, a bit of explaining is in order. Ice houses are from a pretty much bygone time, usually not much more than a wooden shack and a place that broke up and distributed block ice to surrounding neighbors, before the time of widespread refrigerator use. A few tables, some chairs, lots of ice, and oh! almost forgot….lots of beer!  You get the picture.

Anyway, this little ice house was a classic of the original breed. Pretty rundown, very simple and kinda out in nowhere.

Anyway, back to this ice house’s branding relevance. I’d seen a number of ice houses by that time, but what made it stand out in my mind, then and still 30+ years later, was its powerful BRAND message.  On a hand-lettered, weather beaten sign on a 4 x 6 piece of plywood it announced, “You can’t get there from here without a six pack.”

Talk about targeting and branding impact.

Of course I stopped, and when we left it was with an additional six pack (this one Shiner Bock) in my cooler. But ever since, I’ve carried with me that example of simple, yet powerful branding.

What made it that way was:

  1. The target was clear. Beer drinkers attention! And beer drinkers that were going SOMEWHERE, maybe home from work, maybe to a party, maybe to float the river (given the location, pretty good chance curtain number three).
  2. The message was simple. You really NEED this (the six pack, silly).
  3. The emotional connection was powerful. We know who you are. We have what you need. We relate to you and welcome you as a friend to stop for a short or longer time.

The Texan that ran that little out-of-the way ice house may be dead by now, but I like to think his kid or grandkids went on to be successful CMO’s or entrepreneurs. Goodness knows, the DNA he passed on carried some really potent branding genes.

1 thought on “Powerful Branding on a Gravel Road in Texas

  1. Mike understands marketing like nobody I’ve ever worked with. From the basics to the most sophisticated Mike can help you find your place in the marketplace. Use him – you won’t be disappointed.


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