Which came first: Maine or Lobster Rolls?

From time to time, two brand categories become so commonly associated that it’s hard to separate them. Think movies and popcorn, country music and cowboy hats, beer and pretzels. While you can certainly enjoy one without the other, together, they’re just better.

A fundamental branding tenet is making emotional connections with your target audience, and I think that’s what these paired experiences have perfected. This came to mind recently, during my visits to Maine this summer – the state where the license plates read “vacationland.” You can’t help but relax, whether you’re visiting the rocky shoreline, sparkling lakes, craggy Acadia National Park or enjoying the art and food scene in Portland. Speaking of food, when we think of Maine inevitably a lobster roll comes to mind. That’s part two of the paired branding experience!

Interestingly, there are many variations of lobster roll recipes, which contradicts branding’s consistency principle. What remains the same, however, is the authenticity of eating a fresh catch from local waters, preferably while seated dockside. And maybe having many recipes encourages continually sampling this simple dish, which means seeing more of Maine. Sounds like everybody wins!

Right now, the Maine Maritime Museum is hosting a history of lobstering exhibit, with a video featuring a Portland-based chef showcasing his lobster roll recipe. While his lovely dish is a little fussy for me, it is a fitting sea-to-table ending for this exhibit celebrating both vacationland and the lobster.

So branding isn’t always about a uniquely differentiated company or product. Sometimes great branding is about a memorable pairing, with room for personal interpretations. I hope you get to enjoy a lobster roll sometime soon – and better yet, on the Maine coast.

 A consistently top-ten rated lobster roll from Five Islands Lobster, Georgetown, ME.

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One thought on “Which came first: Maine or Lobster Rolls?

  1. The lobster roll is Maine’s version of the Big Mac, and it’s no surprise that the McD’s up here in 207 land have the lobster roll on their menu next to the (in)famous triple-decker special sauce burger. The question for me is whether or not the lobster roll is a transgression of the ballpark hotdog — usurping the roll designed to hold the hot franks — or a transgression of the steam, crack and dip tradition of eating our state’s biggest export (as reported in the above cited Maritime Museum exhibit)? I suppose it’s just another one of our beloved state’s cultural gordian knots! The other being the oh so irritating category of being ‘from away’. (Whenever I hear that phrase I’m tempted to ask if the person is a member of the Penobscot tribe).

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