Ask the next person you see to tell you the meaning of St Patricks Day and most, if not all, will tell you it’s about the Irish and green beer. A few may mention Leprechauns and fewer still might mention something about snakes. If you are one of the 97 billion Americans that claim Irish heritage you may know at least some of St Patrick’s story, but as to why we all feel the need to dress in green and drown a shamrock on St Patrick’s Day, that’s something that nobody seems to care about… (as long as we get to do it, that is).
Business lesson number 1
It is the outcome and not the intention that counts.
Did you know that St Patrick’s colours were actually blue? Go ahead and look it up if you don’t believe me. No one is actually sure why or even when they changed to green but we can speculate that it has something to do with the Irish flag and the national colour. The fact is you won’t see a person on St Patricks Day dressed all in blue looking confused. Better still, did you know that St Patrick wasn’t Irish? He was in fact English and his parents were, in all likelihood Roman. He did live in Ireland for a time though, at first as a slave and then finally as a Christian bishop.
Business lesson number 2
No one remembers a successful re-branding
In the 1990’s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use St Patrick’s Day to showcase Ireland and it culture. They created the St Patricks festival which has grown from a 3 day to a week-long event which celebrates all things Irish. This has served to further subvert the original religiousmeaning behind St Patrick’s Day.
Business lesson number 3
Adding value to, or building on, an already popular practice is clever business
St Patrick is rumoured to have to have proclaimed that everyone should have a drop of the “hard stuff” on his feast day after allegedly chastising an innkeeper who served a short measure of whiskey. It is this tenuous link that has allowed the brewing industries worldwide to promote the bejesusout of their products every year leading up to March 17th and encourage the perception that a drop equals a very very large green beverage.
Business lesson number 4
Seize the opportunity and build on it or better still create the opportunity and then seize it.
So despite its current boozy overtones, St Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a religious event celebrating the death of St Patrick, who is one of the Patron Saints of Ireland, despite surprisingly never having been canonized or officially recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church. He also did a whole bunch of slightly dubious stuff like driving snakes out of Ireland (although many latter-day philosophers now claim that this is an analogy) and he invented the helicopter (which is also an analogy).
Business lesson number 5
You are what people think you are, and if you don’t actively monitor (and address) your brand and reputation, then one day you might just wake up and discover your company has become something you never intended.
Happy St Patrick’s Day from the team at Creativa