America's First Fast Food Breakfast

As documented in The Ray Goad Story, he opened his first 15¢ Hamburger restaurant in 1964 and became a fast food pioneer when Ray’s Kingbugrer was the first to ever serve a breakfast in a fast food restaurant.

The Ray Goad Story

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Raymond Goad, Sr.

July 18, 1922 – March 23, 2015


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The Brand Blog

(Originally posted April 7, 2013)

As of this posting, I have renamed my Blog, “The Brand Blog.”  It is a subject that has long had my interest; and, the growing body of information about branding seems to be a good “niche” for me to focus on.  Subscribe, and stayed tuned for anything and everything I see and think about how to define and grow your brand in today’s digital marketplace. 


At one time when you ate cereal for breakfast, you ate corn flakes, rice crispies, or shredded wheat. Or, if you had a cola, it was made at a soda fountain in a drug store. Or, if you stayed at a hotel, it was in the only hotel wherever you were. We now drive a Ford Focus or a Volkswagen Passat. We eat Banana Nut Cheerios, Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries, or Gluten Free Honey Nut Chex; and, we stay at a Westin Resort, or a Marriott Courtyard.

Actually, the cereal companies like General Mills were the first to understand that customers liked all kinds of cereals, and that the companies were selling a brand, not just a breakfast food. They taught the hotel companies that people also needed all kinds of hotels—convention hotels, airport hotels, all-suite hotels, and extended stay hotels too.

The importance of what the cereal companies learned, and taught American business is that the market for anything is actually divided into many different segments, or market niches. If you try to compete against all cereals, it is hard for the consumer to recognize you, try you, like you, and learn to prefer you. And along the way Coca-Cola became the master of all brands with its’ universally recognized logo, and jingle asking you to “buy the world a Coke.”

The buzz word now days is “Branding.” However, it is more than a trendy word. It is actually something we all now believe in. We buy some brands because they are recognized, trustworthy; and, because we like them. We also buy other brands because we can identify with them, or because they represent something new, fresh and different. The significant lesson here is that we identify these products as a brand.

You don’t have to invent a brand. You are a brand whether you know it or not. The real issue is can the market segment, or niche, that needs or would like what you are selling–identify your brand.

It is up to you to sharpen your message to present an image that truly identifies what your brand stands for to your potential target market customers.

So, branding is nothing more than certain key words, images and values that consistently identify to the consumer exactly who you are, what you stand for, and why they need and want what you have to offer.

Finally, you should accept that someone other than yourself is probably in the best position to identify your target market, and to describe what you have to offer that is so unique. Said another way, we are often the least effective person to tell our own story. Much is to be gained by having someone from the outside objectively analyze our strengths; and, capture them in a few simple words and images that communicate who we really are.

Fundamentally, having someone do that is not that different from having a friend who knows you really well introduce you to someone you don’t know. He might say, “I would like for you to meet my friend, he is one of the…” Those things are generally things you would never think to say, but that actually tells exactly who you are. Your unique “point of difference.

We know that we can help you identify your target market, and carve out your own niche in that market for your services or products. We have this confidence because of two unique things about our firm. We have new school creative talent that is in tune with today’s social networks and markets; and, we have substantive old school experience with major enterprises that have successfully proven how to hone these skills to a razor’s edge.

Contact us today and let’s get acquainted. Let us learn who you are, and introduce you to your new customers.

The WESTIN Brand

Mid-Career as a corporate lawyer I was fortunate to find myself as Associate General Counsel of what was then known as WESTERN INTERNATIONAL HOTELS. In 1930, hotel owners Severt W. Thurston and Frank Dupar, both of Yakima, Washington USA, formed a partnership in order to manage their hotels more efficiently. Together with Peter and Adolph Schmidt they formed Western Hotels, with seventeen properties, all but one in the state of Washington.

Early management developed each property individually. After more than two decades of rapid growth, prompting a name change in 1954 to Western International Hotels, many of its properties were merged into a single corporate structure in 1958, and the company went public in 1963 as Western International Hotels Company. In 1970, the chain was acquired by UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines.

By the early 1980′s Western International Hotels had some 60 properties, mostly in the U.S., but including such landmark properties as The Plaza Hotel in New York, The Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles; and, the St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco. Part of it’s attraction to it’s almost exclusively high-end business executive travelers was that each of it’s core urban hotels commanded a distinctive identity as a truly luxury, prestige property, always in the best location: The Olympic Hotel Seattle, The Crown Center Plaza Kansas City, The Bayshore Inn Vancouver, The Continental Plaza Chicago, etc.

However, as Associate General Counsel, I would have referred to my desk an increasing amount of claims that had actually occurred in a small, but growing non-luxury motel chain known as Best Western Hotels. A classic case of consumer brand mis-identification.

At the very emergence of the idea that all markets were, or were becoming Global; this up-start Best Western Hotels, changed it’s name to Best Western International Hotels. The Board and Management instructed me to file a lawsuit claiming trademark infringement, and to prevent this obviously confusing identity to legally continue. I did so, and as the law suit progressed, the first alarming truth we learned was that, standing alone, there was no protection under the law for generic names like “Western,” “International,” and of course “Hotels.” Therefore, the only claim for infringement would be if someone actually used the identical order of words that our Company had spent almost 50 years building as a brand identity.

As I began to understand this awful legal realization, it became my task to report to the then CEO Harry Mulligan, and at his direction, later to the Board, that the Company had no real choice but to change it’s name. Because the Company’s flagship was The Plaza Hotel, the world famous NY landmark, the idea was initially to rename the Company The Plaza Hotel Company. However, I had to advise the Board that while this might seem like a strong brand name, it was burdened by all of the same problems of the existing name. The word “Plaza” was not trademark protectable. Not to mention that a quick trademark search showed more than a 1,000 hotels and motels in the U.S. alone that used the word Plaza.

What followed, provided me with a lifetime of experience and understanding of what make a good Brand Name; and, the strategic steps that must be taken to create a strong and memorable consumer Brand. Authorized to retain one of the leading brand identity consulting companies; and, at a cost of more than $400,000 in 1980 dollars, I had the rare opportunity to learn many valuable lessons about brand identity. We performed a computer analysis of thousands of names generated as being synonymous with the established image of the Company.

I learned that the best brand names are short. The rule of thumb is five to eight letters–maybe a few more if they flow right. The most protectable names are new words, that cannot have trademark conflicts: Exxon, Kodak, Walkman, Häagen-Dazs, DieHard, Liptor, etc. At the same time the name must for the most part, posses product association, imagery, character (personality) and differentiation.

At first we came up with the name Windhover (the “h” is silent), which is a hawk indigenous to the British Isles. Everyone fell in love with it. A logo was produced  and cast in bronze, which if you look closely you might see that it merges the shape of a W with the head and tail of a hawk.  However, as all good designer’s do, Landor had a “throwaway” option, which we felt confident would be rejected as being too common, and not ringing with the British prestige of the Windhover.  It was a computer generated contraction of the words Western and International: WESTIN. Harry Mulligan and the rest of senior management selected the “name” Windhover, with the logo “symbol” of the hawk.  Landor had generated a logo “symbol” of a rather bland stylized chandelier to hang over the Westin name.

Actual production of all of the collateral products using the new name Windhover was commenced.  However, when what we thought would be the final presentation of the name change for formal adoption by the Board of Directors was made, questions were raised by Edward E. Carlson, the Chairman of the Board.  Already the legendary “Eddie” had started as an elevator operator with the Company as a graduate of the University of Washington. He went on to become President the Company, served as the CEO of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair–and is credited with the conception of the Space Needle.  By this time he also served as the Chairman and CEO of United Airlines, the Company’s then Parent.

On that memorable day, Eddie said I like the logo symbol of the hawk, but I really like the name “Westin,” because it keeps parts of the historic names of Western and International.  He then asked: “What would you think of the name Westin with the hawk logo?”  And so after almost a half million dollars, and the work-product of the best minds in the business at that time, a shot-gun wedding of two disparate creative ideas were merged.

For its 50th anniversary in 1980, The Company changed its name to the current Westin Hotels & Resorts. I went on to successfully register the new brand in 142 countries. As is often the case when brands grow in identity and consumer recognition, the symbol of the hawk was merged out, and what remains today is a Brand Name, the mere typeface of which is recognized around the world as one of the strongest and most enduring Brand identities of its time.

In 1987, UAL Chairman Richard Ferris announced a plan to make UAL into Allegis, a travel conglomerate based around United Airlines, Hertz Rent a Car, Hilton Hotels, and Westin and linked by Apollo. This strategy failed, however, and Westin was sold in 1988 to Aoki Corporation of Japan. In 1994 Aoki sold it to Starwood Capital, real estate investment firm and parent of Starwood Lodging, and Goldman Sachs, an investment bank. In 1998 Starwood assumed full ownership of the company. Built initially from the strong Westin brand identity, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is now one of the world’s largest hotel companies. Starwood owns, operates, franchises and manages more than 1,000 hotels, resorts, spas, residences, and vacation ownership properties under nine different brands.  Every wonder where the idea of  the “W” came from?

November 16, 2015 UPDATE:  Marriott is buying Starwood to make the largest hotel company in the world. Together, the companies will operate or franchise 5,500 hotels with a total of 1.1 million rooms. The company will span 100 countries.

Ray's Kingburger

I have been digging through my journey in “corporate branding” archives; and,  today, I came across my very first effort to pitch a product.

Following this ad that I created with a friend while a student at BYU, Dad Ray Goad came up with the idea to serve Breakfast in his fast food restaurants…the featured item on the menu was the same sausage biscuit you might order today.

He was without dispute the originator of the fast food breakfast.

Together, with the help of my sister and her husband Judge Moses Massey, we opened more than 50 locations in NC, SC, GA, TN, and VA. Hat’s off to Dad Ray Goad who will celebrate his 90th birthday in Mt. Airy, NC on July 18th. He is a true fast food pioneer and legend, right up there with Richard and Maurice McDonald, Harland “Colonel” Sanders, and Dave Thomas.

Dave named his restaurants after his daughter Wendy; and, Dad named another successful chain after my sister as “Sweet Sue’s.”

Do Not Try This at Home, Part II

Recently we shared with our understanding of Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”); and, this posting continues that discussion with some of the fascinating new tools that we use to enhance your page rank.

As explained then, while we believe the more our clients know, the more they will appreciate the value of what we do, we don’t recommend that you “try this at home.”  As you read more, we think you will understand why.

First of all there are a variety of ways of building links to your website.  We start with other websites in your industry or subject niche. For example, if your business is beverages, we look for mixer and snack sites.

Social media site have become enormously valuable to SEO because they are open and easy to join.  There is also a kind of “reciprocal culture” that acknowledges your expression of interest with a willingness to follow, and link to you as well.

A Links page linking to other websites provides you with an opportunity to request that the same page return the favor with a link to your site.

Link bait is a term for creating something useful and interesting that people naturally want to see more of, and link to your site increasing your popularity over time.

Building an Email list of customers who agree to receive your newsletters, and special offers is one of the surest ways of getting a large number of links.

However, there are a number of highly technical programs that we now use to accomplish some of these things and measure our results as we go. Advance Web Ranking is an excellent software for SEO created by Caphyon Ltd. Caphyon is headquartered in Romania of all places.  They have been around since 2002 and their product ratings have been climbing among their top ten competitors ever since.

We use AWR for Link building and management, competitor analysis including number of keyword results and number of keyword competitors.  It is also very helpful for other kinds of keyword research and analysis.  Finally, it has a powerful performance reporting module which includes automated reporting so essential to knowing what we are doing that is working, and what is not.

We like AWR because it not only tells us who is linking to your site, but also the keywords they use to find you.  It gives us much of the same information for your competitors.  Graphic comparisons and reports are provided that make this information even more valuable.

A great feature is the routine check for search engine updates. Every time we open your site in the program, it checks for updates against its database, assuring that we are working with the most accurate data possible.

We also rely on the active support that the experts at AWR provide to us.  At first we thought it might be difficult because of their location in Romania; however, they provide all the help we need through U.S. support contacts.

Another product from Caphyon that we like is Advanced Link Manager.This is a link-building tool that let’s us track which sites are linking to both your site, and your competitors web site as well. With this tool we are able to develop a link building campaign for your website; and, even use your competitor’s link profile information where relevant.

As we mentioned in our first posting on this subject, search engines such as Google consider links to be a proxy, or a vote for your web site. Thus, for any particular keyword, the number of links (i.e. class popularity) pointing to your website is extremely relevant in your PageRank; and, depending on the quality of the links, your TrustRank as well.

We also wrote about the infamous “black hat” tricks for building many links quickly. Most of these tactics are either unethical, sleazy, or short-sighted cheap bumps in rankings that are not worth the long-term risk of being penalized or banned by Google when statically sooner or latter it becomes apparent that all your inbound links are of very low quality. Advanced Link Manager helps us assure that Google can find and promote the material on your website that identifies your brand, and makes you attractive to your particular market niche.

We spend a lot of time trying determining the keywords and phrases that best match your web targets. Only are we able to organize and launch a link building campaign. Advance Link Manager give us a competitive advantage in monitoring your competition, and improve your standing with the addition of new inbound links pointing directly to your door.

The enormous amount of data provided to us by Advance Link Manager enables us to search for new opportunities for building links and creating relationships with other websites.

Included in this powerful tool is the ability to chart the number of backlinks your site has, graphed over time.  You can even chart them in categories by “important” link, “Paid” links, “Blog” links, etc.

Other things that we can do with Advanced Link Manage include: features of ALM that make the tool critical to my link building process:

▪   We can set an automatic schedule for checking links

▪   We can set triggers that automatically alert us to changes in links

▪   Links can be sorted by PageRank to determine link quality

▪   We can find broken links and fix them

▪   We can monitor the anchor text of links pointing to your site

However, we do offer you our experience, expertise, and access to the valuable technical tools we have mastered with the confidence that we can help you build a powerful SEO campaign.  Oh yes, one more bit of free advice: Don’t try this at home.

Do Not Try This at Home, Part I

I had to laugh out loud when the talking head I was watching on TV was being green-screened in front of a ubiquitous bookshelf background with a set of World Book Encyclopedias–an arcane archive of information, with an index.

While April 7, 1969 is the day the thing we call the Internet began, it was not until 1990 that a tool was available to search the Internet. It was called “Archie” (“archive” without the “v”), and was limited to a searchable database of file names without any hint of the contents.

Just six years later, starting in 1996 Google became both a noun and a verb; and, “page rank” became the Holy Grail of the Internet. Goodbye Word Book, hello to the now most common phrase of daily life: “google it.”

For those with a Web page, the second most common phrase now seems to be SEO.  As web developers interacting with prospective new clients almost every day, we find that most think of SEO as either some kind of secret treasure map known only to the few; or, black-hat unethical schemes and tactics that fool Google into thinking websites are more valuable than they actually are.

Neither is true. We thought, why not share our understanding of Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”); and, some of the fascinating new tools that we use enhance your page rank.  You may think, why should I hire you to do it?  Well, actually we believe the more our clients know, the more they will appreciate the value of what we do. However, we advise that you do not try this at home.

Let’s start with the understanding that search engines don’t just rank page results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page. PageRank technology measures a website’s relevance by determining the number of pages, and the importance of those pages, that are linked back to the original site.

Think of it this way. Think of websites as your high school classmates. Who usually got named in the yearbook as “most liked?”  The one that tried to glad-hand his way to the top by knowing the most classmates, or one who hung out with the in-crowd and had the most powerful friends. In any event it certainly wasn’t the new kid who had just moved to town and didn’t know anybody.

While Google collects billions of bits of data from tens of millions of websites, they actually sort it down to about ten of the most relevantsearch results.  The most important are Links, Page title, and URL.

Links are like an election, but you can’t get better page PageRank by simply winning the most votes. Google applies scores of restrictions in order for a vote to count.  Every page is assigned a PageRank from 0 to 10. The more relevant the page is to the search, the higher the rank number. Most websites are in the 4 to 5 range.  Above that is very hard to get, and 10 includes everybody like Google itself.

However, PageRank is now not as important an indicator as the TrustRank value given to the page by Google.  TrustRank is earned the same way as PageRank, receiving links from other sites; and, the age of the site.  Google gives the most TrustRank to sites that have links from “well-linked” web pages (the popular classmates that hang out with other most popular kids). Google closely guards how it determines TrustRank.

In addition to Links, there are four other factors of successful SEO. They are keyword selection (words typed into the search engine), meta page title (the short description of your site), URL structure (your domain name), and time.  Google fights spam sites, like automatically generated blogs filled with senseless gibberish containing hundreds of keywords, by imposing “ranking delays” on new websites. A new site is not ranked by Google for several months; and, then the “holdback” is gradually released to about 50% after six month, 75% after twelve months, 90% after twenty-four months, 90% after twenty-four months, and finally fully after forty-eight months.

In our next installment, we will share with you some of our techniques and tools for building a successful SEO!