In Denzel Washington’s most recent Hollywood offering, American Gangster, he plays Frank Lucas, a real-life drug lord who rose to dominate the heroin trade in Harlem during the early ‘70s. During his 10-year ascent to power, starting in 1965, he was ruthless and above the law – but not above the laws of economics. In this arena he was shrewd and sharp – one suspects he would have succeeded whether he was selling dope or doughnuts.
Lucas clearly understood supply and demand, trusted his management team (his family), and hired all the right people (dirty cops, US soldiers in Vietnam and thugs) to ensure the operations side ran smoothly.
But what caught my attention – and what clearly set him apart from other run-of-the-mill outlaws in his era – was Lucas’ understanding of branding.
In one scene late in the movie Lucas confronts one of his distributors, Nicky (played by Cuba Gooding Junior), who is tampering with Lucas’ product, Blue Magic.
Lucas says to Nicky, “I don’t see why you got to take something perfectly good and mess it up. Brand names – see, brand names mean something. Blue Magic. That’s a brand name. Like Pepsi – that’s a brand name. I stand behind it. I guarantee it.
“They know that, even if they don’t know me any more than the chairman of General Mills. When you chop my dope down to one-two-three-four-five percent, and you call it Blue Magic, that’s trademark infringement. You understand what I’m saying?”
Frank Lucas understands the marrow of his product.
The purpose of this issue of the magazine is to help take you beyond the surface of your brand and hopefully help you look deeper into it.
Speaking of brands – regular readers of Make It Business will notice a format change in our publication. As one might say in a barber shop, we’ve taken “about an inch of the top.” The smaller size is a more standard one and will enable us to improve our distribution.
It’s the last incremental step in our own rebranding process from our previous incarnation, The Office Journal, to Make It Business. You’ll also notice changes to the typography and design of the magazine, all intended to give you, the reader, a more enjoyable experience.
I would also like to take this moment to thank our technology writer Anthony Hempell for his contributions to the magazine over the past two years. He has left his post at Blast Radius to start his own venture, a consulting company specializing in web architecture. We wish him the best of luck in his new endeavour.
In his place we welcome Andy Latter, who is the chief techno-geek at Small Business BC. Andy brings a wealth of experience to our pages and I highly recommend you read his first column right to the end – it’s amusing to say the least.
And we also add a column focusing on one of the issues all businesses struggle with: management. We welcome Miin Lim, a partner with Ascent Group, a Vancouver-based strategic advisory firm.
As always, please enjoy the issue. Any and all feedback on the publication is appreciated.