Battle of the Brands: The Final Four

Lessing-Flynn’s Battle of the Brands reaches the Final Four. But instead of us breaking down the field, we thought we’d give these four brands the floor. Here they are, in their own words, talking branding and making their case to be LF’s Battle of the Brands champ.

screen-shot-2011-08-09-at-8-51-15-am1Iowa State Fair vs. The Principal Financial Group Iowa State Fair answers from, Emily DeVries, Marketing Coordinator Principal answers from, Joelle Kirchhoff, Media Relations

What makes a strong brand?

ISF: It’s about the connection you make with your customers, or in our case, fairgoers. A strong brand provides a product or experience so compelling that customers want to introduce everyone they know to it.

PFG: Consistently delivering on a promise—and the commitment, authenticity and integrity that gets you to that promise. Simple as that.

Why has your brand made it this far?

ISF: The Fair is a brand that has been building for 156 years. Where else can you find this combination of food, entertainment and competition? For many Iowans, the Fair is part of their family traditions.

PFG: We’re a global company with firmly planted roots in Iowa. We’ve been a downtown neighbor to many other Battle of the Brands competitors for over 130 years to be exact. During this time, we’ve shown our commitment, through good times and bad, to the city of Des Moines and the state of Iowa. And it’s not just us alone. It’s our employees who help keep the community vibrant and live the brand every day. Through their commitment, and the support from our business and non-profit partners, we’ve made it to the Final Four.

How do you like your chances?

ISF: Principal may have an edge, but we have the Giant Slide. Which would you rather ride?

PFG: You can’t put your retirement on a stick, so they have us beat there. But, we both work hard to make Iowa a great place to live and play. We both attract attention to Central Iowa from around the globe. And together we each have more than 130 years of rich Iowa history. We recognize the power behind the Iowa State Fair brand. Win or lose, we’ll continue to look forward to it every year.

If you advance, how do you like your chances against Jethro’s or Kum & Go?

ISF: Both are formidable opponents. Jethro’s has a sandwich that’s almost as big as the Butter Cow, and Kum & Go has more locations than there are mullets on the Fairgrounds. Tough competition.

PFG: It’s worth mentioning that the namesake of Jethro’s “Adam Emmenecker” sandwich is a current employee of The Principal. So our loyalties might be split if we face them in the finals. As for Kum & Go, we might let them win in exchange of free fountain drinks for all our Iowa employees. *Disclaimer* in full disclosure, we’ll fight a hard battle to the end with each.

What would you like to say to everyone who has voted for you?

ISF: A huge thank you for your support! It’s our dedicated Fairgoers and talented exhibitors who make this the state’s top event. Most importantly, it’s almost Fairtime! Come on out and enjoy a corn-dog!

PFG: The most sincere thanks and gratitude to those who have voted for us so far. We’re proud to be a strong Iowa brand and we’ve enjoyed a little friendly competition!


screen-shot-2011-08-09-at-8-51-22-am1Jethro’s BBQ vs. Kum & Go Jethro’s BBQ answers from Christopher Juhl, Marketing Strategist Kum & Go answers from, Mike Templeton, Social Media Manager

What make a strong brand?

JBBQ: A consistent and recognizable  feature that has the confidence and creativity to do it their way (and not rely on what the competition is doing) and is an identifiable mark synonymous with quality products and service.

K&G: A strong brand delivers its promise across all touchpoints – the logo, the products and services, the employees, and the purchase experience. Everyone has a different story to tell, but all of them are similar because of our strong brand. We also owe that to our founders and the great example they set.

Why has your brand made it this far?

JBBQ: I believe we have loyal customers who love what we offer and when made aware of an opportunity to support us, they want to do what they can.  Since this is done electronically, we have customers who are electronically savvy and that makes it easier to motivate them to vote.

K&G: Kum & Go is a brand that (likely) everyone in the competition has experienced. We’re a staple in day-to-day life, which gives us an advantage over brands that people may or may not have interacted with personally. It also helps that we’ve got some passionate fans.

How do you like your chances?

JBBQ: The final four brings a new challenge that most of the tech start-ups previously did not have, that is a marketing budget and marketing teams to create ways to motivate their fans to vote and spread the word. But, we did not know if we would make it past the play in game and now we have made it to the final four, so you can never say never.

K&G: Jethro’s has demolished all of its opponents thus far, so this is definitely our “Adam Emmenecker Challenge” of the competition. People love BBQ. Our saving grace may be that you can’t enjoy a plate of wings without an ice cold fountain drink – and we’ve got ‘em cheap.

If you advance, how do you like your chances against The Iowa State Fair or Principal?

JBBQ: We are shocked to have made it to the final four and these other three finalist how have the resources behind them to make things happen, but we must be doing something right to have reached this level, it is anybody’s game at this point.

K&G: Against the Iowa State Fair it could be anyone’s game, but I’d say both brands are staples for the state. People travel to Iowa for the state fair, but they always remember Kum & Go when traveling through the state.

What would you like to say to everyone who has voted for you?

JBBQ: We have tried to thank our customers/fans who have voted for us at the end of each round, we just want them to know how much we appreciate their continued support.  Truly without them we would not have made it this far.  We cannot thank them enough for their continued support, as they have gotten nothing in return for voting and that is the greatest testament to the support we get from our loyal customers

K&G: Thank you! It’s easy for me personally to cheer on the brand from my office chair, but it’s our nearly 4,000 associates in the stores that have built this fan base. It’s their dedication and service-above-all-else attitude that’s made our brand what it is today. Let’s take the red oval to the top!


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Voting for the Final Four will end on Friday, August 12, at Noon CST.