Branding Illustrated in 19th Century Seed Companies

The seed and nursery businesses in late nineteenth century America used the latest marketing and advertising to promote their products.

In 1915 a writer for the trade magazine Printer’s Ink: A Journal of Advertising  interviewed  W. Atlee Burpee (1858-1915) just before Burpee died.  Burpee became a subject for the article because he adopted so well what we call today ‘ branding’.

1895 Burpee's seed catalog cover with winning phrase: "Burpee's Seeds Grow"

The article said, “Any advertising man is interested in the psychology of trade-names can find plenty of material for studying the seed trade.”

In 1890 Burpee ran a contest with the readers of Printer’s Ink to come up with a phrase that would capture Burpee’s value in the seed market.

The winning phrase, which actually won second prize,  was “Burpee’s Seeds Grow”.  The words have appeared in Burpee promotional material ever since.

The first prize winner has long been forgotten.

Burpee’s interview appeared in Printer’s Ink because Burpee saw branding, though he didn’t call it that,  as necessary for a successful business.

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