Work Hard at What You Love
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." Helen Keller (1880-1968)
Today in the business section of the morning paper (yes, I still read the paper every morning) I read that General Motors was closing the doors on one-time Swedish Car brand Saab. On a personal level, I was deeply saddened by the news and hoped someone would swoop in to save Saab at the 11th hour. Back in the early 1950s my grandfather decided to take a chance on the quirky, boxy cars, and became the sole franchise holder of the East Coast tri-state Saab dealership. It was a gamble that paid off—the cult-status cars gained wildly in popularity and his business flourished for over 35 years.
I grew up with mechanics and salespeople, the smell of gasoline, the annual counting of spark plugs and filters, and pretending to race his beloved Saab Sonnet while it sat on the showroom floor. I took my driver’s license test in a brand-new Saab convertible, petrified that I would crash it, with my grandfather smiling (and white-knuckled) at my side. The Saab brand was part of my family.
As promotional product suppliers, distributors and those of us who cover the marketplace, building a brand is what we do. The hope of every company CEO, product developer, marketer and logo designer is to have a name and a logo that one day becomes a household name. The folks at Saab built their cars and ultimately their brand on engineering that did not follow trends or what “The Jones” were parking in their driveways. Saabs, designed by aircraft engineers, were built to be great cars. And with this “average Joe be damned, we will build what we want” attitude, “Saab people” were born (and I am proud to say I am one). While a household name is a feat in and of itself, this is a kind of brand loyalty that is rarely seen. If anyone else out there is a “Saab person” you know exactly what I mean.