Benjamin Franklin’s image as diplomat, printer, scientist and founding father has is so integral to the American story that his other accomplishments are largely overlooked. A man of decided opinions, Franklin was an early adopter of the concept of marketing and seemed to innately understand that perception is just as important as reality. He used his fame, reputation and considerable wit to promote his thoughts on everything from how to run a country to how to write, usually with witty letters to the editors of newspapers. He also knew that repetition of an idea was key to making it stick – a key concept that became part of branding in the twentieth century.
Among Franklin’s pet projects and ideas that were later adopted by the U.S. as a whole were: professional police forces, volunteer fire companies, fire insurance, city-run hospitals, public libraries and major publicly funded research institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, which he spent years promoting and which is now nicknamed “Franklin’s university.”