We had the good fortune of connecting with Park Howell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Park, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
My own personal branding backstory began in the ordinary world of Woodinville, Washington. Our mom and dad, Keith and Pat Howell, got married in 1954. They were 28 and 29 years old respectively, which was kind of late in the getting-married process for their generation. So they wasted no time—cranked out seven kids in nine years. I was number five. Our dad had one rule for our brood at the dinner table: You had to “keep one foot on the floor.” Everything else was free-market dining. This was simply a reflection of what he thought about life. “You have to take care of yourself, because no one else will,” he coached us. I’m sure this sentiment was a product of his depression-era upbringing in Sheldon, North Dakota. My mom and dad gave our childhood home, a 12-acre spread in Woodinville, nestled among the rain-slicked evergreens and dewy blackberry vines, a brand name. Fifty years later it is still known as the “Happy H,” an enduring brand that represents what they stand for, finding and promoting happiness in the lives of everyone they came to know and love. “Happy” was the North Star that guided everything they did and how they raised us. This sentiment remains at the heart of our ever-growing extended families. One time, when we were all piled in the Town & Country station wagon, off on another adventure, my younger brother Chris asked Dad if we were rich. Without hesitation he answered, “We sure are. Seven kids rich.” That’s just the way they rolled. Keith loved the Seven Dwarfs because they reminded him of us kids. What I find interesting about this Disney comparison is that each dwarf had his own distinct brand: Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy, Doc, and Grumpy. And each used their unique brand position to win the affections of Snow White. I realized at an early age the importance of standing out in a crowded, competitive market, especially if I was going to get my fair share in the hungry Howell household. I liked to express my creativity. I started taking piano lessons in the third grade, wrote songs through high school, and earned a degree in music composition and theory in college. As a kid, I wore a ridiculous milkman’s hat everywhere. It was distinct because it had the same blocky color design as the Partridge Family’s bus (look it up). I’m not sure if my brand actually curried favor with my parents, but, like my name, it made me distinct from Dan, Melody, Tom, Steve, Chris, and Mike (who were a construction manager, Arabian horse trainer, construction manager, physical therapist, farrier, and equine veterinarian, respectively), each finding their own unique brand voice. While getting my music degree, I learned the power of a focused brand during a popular marketing course in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University. Figuring I probably wouldn’t achieve fame and fortune as a composer, I hedged my bet with a degree in communications, too. Now, continuing a 35-year career in the branding arts, I combine all these attributes to help leaders of purpose-driven brands excel through the stories they tell, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. What are the curiosities and passions that drive your success? Which dwarf are you?
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Park Howell is known as The World’s Most Industrious Storyteller helping leaders of purpose-driven brands grow by as much as 600 percent. His 35 years in brand creation includes 20 years running his own ad agency Park&Co. He was named Advertising Person of the Year in 2010 by the American Advertising Federation of Metro Phoenix. The following year, his agency was recognized among the Top 10 Impact Companies in Arizona by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Park is the founder of the Business of Story, a proven platform based on his 10-step Story Cycle System™ to clarify your story, amplify your impact and simplify your life. His popular weekly Business of Story podcast is ranked among the top 10 percent of the most downloaded podcasts in the world. His new book, Brand Bewitchery: How to Wield the Story Cycle System™ to Craft Spellbinding Stories for Your Brand, helps readers clarify their brand story and teaches how to tell it through three proven narrative frameworks that captivate audiences and convert customers. Park consults, teaches, coaches and speaks internationally. He has guided hundreds of brands and grown thousands of leaders and their people in such organizations as Dell, Hilton, Cummins, American Express, Walgreens, Banner Health and the United States Air Force. He is a graduate of Washington State University and combines his degrees in communications and music composition and theory to help leaders excel through the stories they tell.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Morning round of golf at Papago GC. Lunch at Lou’s. Hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Cocktails at Undertow, dinner at The Breadfruit Rum Bar closing with a show downtown, maybe at the Crescent Ballroom or the Van Buren.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shout out is to my wife Michele who has supported every crazy venture and adventure I’ve dived into.