One of the first things we like to know about people when we first meet them is where they’re from and what’s their story. The same is true for brands. We refer to this as brand ‘provenance’; a word derived from the French ‘provenir’, meaning ‘to come forth’ or ‘originate’.

There are few more powerful concepts in branding than that of provenance and using a brand’s geographic origins to bolster its identity and differentiate it from the competition. Brands are meant to come from a specific micro-location and marketers can use that origin for strategic advantage.

The Australian recently wrote an article claiming that ‘provenance’ was Australia’s blind spot in marketing. They wrote that “We struggle with this issue in Australia because during our formative years of consumer marketing during the early 20th century we were a country with conflicting local tastes. Melbourne sophisticates did not find Sydney’s various local brands attractive. People in Perth did not aspire to brands that came from the east coast. We learned, early in our marketing evolution, to play down provenance to avoid alienating vast swathes of the domestic market.”


Consumers value authenticity and will gladly pay a premium when the brand’s connections to origin run deep. Much of our industry research points to the fact that we put provenance before price and availability when shopping for food and drink. ‘Made In’, ‘Made By’ and ‘Made Since’ all matter. They have become the shorthand for all things consumers care about: quality, ingredients, health, animal welfare, environmental and labour concerns. In short, provenance equals confidence.

Even a humble bag of  Mung beans can be covered in purple prose, seriously, check out the video in this post – we want to sell the unique provenance and beautiful Australian location. Mung bean lovers aren’t merely buying the bean sprouts, they are buying into the farm, the field and the fingers that pulled them from the long-tilled earth. They are buying the story. Your story.

That does not mean you should instruct us to dress up your mutton as salt-marsh or black-faced lamb. Or that you enlist the services of Hugh Jackman as your brand spokesman before you can prove that your hops are grown in Snowy Mountain and not some greenhouse in Latvia. The best and most effective advertising is invariably built upon truth.

If the consumer spots a hole in your story, their confidence in your brand can be obliterated. And digital consumers can be highly attuned to testing the veracity, or otherwise, of claimed provenance. From a communications perspective, brands simply need to get their stories straight.

Marketing begins and ends with your consumer. The digital consumer has a whole repository of tools to instantly gauge the strength of your claims and often a large audience to broadcast to, should they find your story lacking. It’s only worth you making origin a strong part of your brand marketing strategy if you understand their expectations about your brand category. Belgium works for chocolate. Not so renowned for pasta sauces.

If you’re a brand with strong provenance, leverage it and be truthful. For ‘comeback brands’, rediscover your heritage. For ‘new brands’, find your story. And if your provenance isn’t attractive – Belgian tagliatelle, anyone? – don’t emphasize it.


More Examples Our Provenance Story Work


Sam Robinson, Director.

Other Sources: The Drum, Fast Company, The Australian