Once Upon a Brand…What was missing from NPGA Nashville


It wasn’t all about the honky tonk on our latest trip to the Music City — it was about Propane Marketing!  After transforming the Conger LP Gas brand in 2016, our clients invited us to this year’s NPGA Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo in Nashville.

What kinds of seminars does one find at the NPGA Expo? Well, for starters, sessions like, “Weather or Not: Your Best Forecast for Predictable Profits” and “It’s Not Rocket Science! Using Metrics to Make Critical Decisions,” designed to educate and inspire power players in the propane industry.

Our group chose to go to many sessions focused on marketing tactics, and after a couple, we realized that there was a key piece missing from all the discussion around “growing gallons” and “promoting burner tips.”

No one was talking about how to enliven your brand. No talk at all of the brands or the stories they can tell.

Your image and the way you tell your story are the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand and make yourself unique in the marketplace. It’s about the facts, but, more important, the feelings that your company puts into the world.

To tell a powerful brand story, you have to understand your core strengths and translate them into your purpose, experience, and perspective.


Why does your company exist? What is your deeper mission?

This should be the starting point of your messaging. It should be baked into everything you do and communicate. For example, Patagonia’s mission is: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. You experience that purpose in their gear. You feel that commitment in their messaging. Customers and employees alike form a deeper connection with you when they clearly understand what drives your work and the way you do it. And that will keep them coming back.


Where has your brand been in the past? Where will it go in the future?

Your experience shapes your vision for the company and how you relate to your customers.  You need to resonate emotionally. Make them truly care. Consider Target, one of the biggest brands that exude happy feelings for most people. The experience you have going into a nice, clean Target store, the friendly staff, and having the latest-and-greatest always in stock is what makes Target stand out from its competitors and has spawned social media trends such as #TargetMom and #TargetLife. Target makes its customers feel like they “get them”, and what could be better than a brand that relates to you?


How does your Purpose + Experience shape the way you see the world?

Your perspective is important to consider when communicating your value. It makes you unique. Papa John’s put its experience and purpose together to convince people that better ingredients make better pizza. Domino’s, on the other hand, knowing it’d never win an ingredients race like it would a customer service one, has wooed new and old customers with its POV that people may be just as satisfied with a pizza tracker as they would a special recipe. Both brands have devotees who seek them out based on each brand’s perspective.


When you put these three elements together, you start to get a sense of your brand’s story. And this story should be your starting point for marketing ideas. It can live within a brand book, as part of a new hire onboarding experience, or on a company website. A great story should deliver a consistent narrative through your marketing initiatives while sparking new campaign ideas along the way.

And this storytelling, as proven by our experience at the NPGA, is easy to overlook. It’s so tempting to focus on the facts, not the feelings. Unfortunately, cold, hard evidence will never be enough. To stand out in any industry, not just propane, you have to burn brightly.



"Lauren Cox Sweeney"

Lauren Sweeney is the founder and CEO of Dotted Line Collaborations, a boutique firm that uses a highly collaborative, personalized approach to connecting the dots for top brands and companies.  When Lauren’s not providing strategic direction for the firm or delivering amazing results for her clients, Lauren is outdoors enjoying all that Richmond has to offer or traveling to a new and exciting destination.

To learn more about our recent work, visit dottedlinecollaborations.com/.


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