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Three Branding Lessons Every Business or Ministry Needs to Learn From Boothill Graveyard

By May 31, 2012January 28th, 2014No Comments

One usually does not stumble onto marketing lessons in a cemetery, but Tombstone’s Boothill isn’t your ordinary graveyard.

For those of you who are not familiar with the grand days of the United States’ Wild West, Boot Hill was a common moniker to describe the graveyards for people who “died with their boots on”, like gunfighters, law enforcement officials, or criminals. Many of the country’s most violent towns had Boot Hills, but the most famous of them all was in Tombstone.

Call me morbid, but I love visiting old graveyards and recently had a chance to visit Boothill in Tombstone. I love reading the epitaphs, penned by people who loved (or hated) the deceased. These epitaphs give us a sentence or two snapshot of the life of the person, his past, and his legacy.

As I thought back to what I saw in Tombstone’s Boothill , three very important branding lessons jumped out at me. After all, organizations need to leave a lasting legacy, something that will transcend the passing of time, just like a grave’s epitaph.

Lesson #1: Make sure that your business or ministry name stands out—and is memorable.

The most famous permanent residents in Boothill are hardly recognizable by their names. In fact, if you ask most people outside of Tombstone who Frank & Tom McClaury and Billy Clanton were, most people wouldn’t have the foggiest clue. Despite their fame, the three men are relatively anonymous by name, known just as the guys gunned down by the Earps and Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

Don’t make the same mistake with your business. Don’t become just another Frank, Tom, or Billy. Let your products stand strong, but make sure that your name leads the way.

Lesson #2: Have a captivating and creative message.

The tombstones that stand out the most in Boothill are the ones with creative and captivating messages. A simple “RIP” may be sufficient, but it’s not even remotely effective.

The O.K. Corral guys stand out just a little as one gravestone states that they were murdered, but compared to some of the other messages left for posterity, they once again fade into oblivion.

Like this ironic epitaph for no-namer George Johnson:

When crafting your message, make it creative. You might be a relative unknown, but no one forgets a captivating message.

Lesson 3: Build your branding so that its legacy can outlive you.

Many of the graves in Tombstone have been there for over a century. I’m sure most of the people who were buried there never thought that hundreds of thousands of tourists would visit their final resting place each year.

If so, they might have been a bit more particular about their legacy and the message they left behind.

However, one person, or possibly his kin, had a greater perspective in mind.

I don’t have an inkling of knowledge about Frank Bowles’ life, but I will remember his legacy.

When crafting a brand, create a legacy that can outlive you and continue to provide inspiration and valuable service to others long after you are gone.

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Aaress Lawless

Aaress enjoys helping small businesses and ministries, having budget travel adventures with friends, and blogging about life lessons on Instagram.

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