Chasing A Branded BBQ Legend

He cooked for countless numbers of soldiers as a mess sergeant in the Korean war. Afterward, he opened his own BBQ joint in a shambly building off Broadway Avenue on the far edge of downtown Lubbock, Texas. As luck would have it, I worked a couple of blocks away at one of the first of many radio stations of my career. I quickly got to know C.B. Stubblefield due to his kind nature, his musical talents, and his seriously delicious BBQ. 

After my late shift, I would stop by his restaurant to grab a bite and listen to the musicians passing through town who would play for a plate of smoky goodness after their concert performances. C.B. loved to hang up his apron, take a break from cooking, and join whichever touring act stepped through the door that night and begin impromptu jam sessions of rhythm and blues and country music on his tiny makeshift stage. These were no ordinary musicians—they were top talents of the day such as B.B.King, Muddy Waters, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Joe Ely, and others who played for their dinner. This was one hoppin’ roadhouse restaurant I will never forget. 

C.B. later moved to Austin where the music scene began to explode with many of his old guitar-picking friends nearby and many more acts flocking to the area. His business grew when he began to bottle his BBQ sauce to sell to patrons. He landed an appearance on David Letterman where the brand name received nationwide exposure and a slot on grocery store shelves.

Christopher B. “Stubb” Stubblefield has long since passed. The Stubb’s restaurants in Austin are owned and managed by his grandchildren. His BBQ Hall Of Famer bronze statue stands at the old site on Broadway in Lubbock. And the sauce? Well, it sold to a mega-giant brand you may have heard of called McCormick Spice Blends, and Stubb’s is found on grocery store shelves all over the country.

I have to admit I’ve plowed through my fair share of Stubb’s Bar B-Q in my lifetime. I’m glad McCormick continues to offer it. It’s a terrific brand with an even better brand story. As for myself, there is so much more than just flavor inside the bottle. There’s a legendary roadhouse full of lasting memories of running into some of the greatest musicians of all time.

Now, this is undoubtedly a wonderful brand story that launched a local business into a delicious national brand by simple word of mouth from popular musicians (think social influencers) and a giant boost on the set of David Letterman. Obviously, not every business has access to such celebrities. But you do have access to powerful champions!

We call radio word-of-mouth on steroids. So are the multiple choices and combinations of digital, video, print, and social media. Step back a moment and take a look at your brand. Is it where it needs to be in the mind of consumers? What makes you the Stubb’s Bar B-Q of your business category? What is your unique brand story? Wouldn’t you like to retire after a giant brand offers you boatloads of money for it? Everyone has a brand story. Let’s work on building yours!