Peachy Marketing

I lived in Atlanta one summer and peaches were everywhere---from signs to license plates. Their primary home, Peach County, produces fruit from 2.5 million trees every year.But Georgia is only the third largest peach producing state in the U.S. behind California and South Carolina. In fact, South Carolinians are downright defensive about it and the debate can get pretty hot, ya'll.

I spent the past week in South Carolina, a place I've grown to love, and it's peaches are at their peak. The photo here is a McBee peach which one local proudly told me: "precious, they just don't get any betta' than this." And they don't.

So why does Georgia get all the credit? How is it that a state has made itself synonymous with a fruit to drive both business and tourism? Well sugar, it's all about the brand.

First, Georgia made it the official state fruit after earning the moniker informally in the three decades after the Civil War. Then they just promoted the hell out of it. The Georgia Peach Council is responsible for marketing the industry, so much so that a 2006 consumer study showed that 80% of consumers prefer Georgia peaches.

That's the beauty of branding. The state of Georgia took ownership of the peach and incorporated it into their brand. And South Carolina didn't. So many products have similar qualities and can even be equal in terms of quality and taste. Often it's only marketing that sets it apart.

The lesson for you? Instead of looking at your talent competitor and inwardly fuming that you're just as good or better, focus on the brand. If only locals know about you, you'll only be popular locally.

I have a friend who's exceptionally well known in a specific industry in one city. He changed the brand of his organization and made it what it is today. But when I Google his name, I only find press clips for his organization. He's relying on the locals to save him, and that could be a career branding mistake.

If you only want your brand to be local--by all means, think South Carolina. But if you want to be known, you have to think popularity. Think Georgia peach.

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