May 14, 2018
The mistake entrepreneurs need to avoid

Your business DNA is your brand

Business decisions make sense when brand fundamentals drive them. Entrepreneurs, listen carefully.

Entrepreneurs. We praise them, and especially the way some food lovers have become true trailblazers in the food industry’s exciting developments. John Foraker is one of them, who I saw on stage at the last Expo West. He’s probably best known for his role as Chairman of the Board and then CEO at Annie’s, who sold to General Mills in 2014 for $820MM.
His latest food startup, Once Upon a Farm, develops fresh baby food products, introducing a whole new category to the market, while providing kids from low-income backgrounds with access to fresh organic food. While being interviewed at Expo along with co-founder Jennifer Garner regarding the brand’s launch, the interviewer brought up a crucial question: “Are there any mistakes from your experience at Annie’s that came as lessons for Once Upon a Farm?” This was his answer :

  • "I made a million (mistakes), but the one that I made and want to talk about today is that while had a great brand DNA at Annie's, we were clear on what the brand stood for, I resisted having a mission statement, a vision and core values for years. I was finally slapped on the back of my head by our VP Marketing, and we did it. Once we did that, every business decision became clear, because we had a roadmap, and the business just took off. If you're an entrepreneur, do that. When you hit curbs on the road in the future, it will make it so much easier for you to succeed going through those"

The four co-founders of Once Upon a Farm: (left to right) John Foraker, Jennifer Garner, Cassandra Curtis, and Ari Raz. Source:

Brand drives business

We could say today that this ‘Brand First’ approach makes common sense. With John’s example, the development of the brand was a forced afterthought that thankfully gave the company clarity and license to grow. But very often, many entrepreneurs are operationally led and are not adopting this mindset as early as they should. What is certain today is the ‘Brand First’ approach is more important than ever. The rise of social media has accelerated the number of products entering the market, which means more competition and more competition means that differentiation is the key.

I do believe that it’s the brand that drives the business and not the other way around, which is why John Foraker’s advice resonated so strongly with me. Last year I wrote about start-ups that were looking to design a logo before anything else and how that approach won’t get you far today. Rather than developing the shiny new visual identity first, time and energy should be dedicated to building a proper brand platform . A marathon runner starts with a first step and this should be yours.

Authored by CBA North America CEO, Jean-Marc Rinaldi.



San Francisco
360 Pine Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

New York
276 5th Avenue, Suite 305
New York, NY 10001

© 2018 All Rights Reserved


San Francisco +1 (415) 339 4220
New York+1 (646) 793 3800

New Business Inquiries

Follow us on

CBA is part of a global network with offices in San Francisco, New York and around the world.

CBA Global en
CBA France FR / EN
CBA Italy IT / EN
CBA Spain ES
CBA Turkey EN
CBA Middle East EN
CBA Asia Pacific EN
CBA North America EN
CBA Latin America EN

Type your search and hit return


First Name

Last Name

Email address

You will need to confirm your address to activate your subscription
By clicking “Subscribe Now” you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy.

Terms and conditions

This site is edited by:
CBA Paris
SASU with a capital of 1 150 000€
RCS Paris Headquarters : 96 rue Edouard Vaillant, 92 300 Levallois-Perret, France Tél : 01 40 54 09 00

Director of Publication: Louis Collinet

This website was developed by:
CB’A Srl
Headquarters: via Lecce 4, 20136 – Milan, Italy

The information displayed on this site concerns all CBA Paris entities. These companies are referred to hereafter by the name « CBA Group ».

Property rights

All data, text, information, images, photography, videos or any other content shared on this website are protected by copyright. Any reproduction, representation, use or adaptation, whatever the form, of all or any element of this site without the written consent of CBA Group will be considered as a counterfeit act and falls under the penalties of Intellectual Property Code.

Brand copyright
All named and logotyped brands, and other distinctive signs, which appear on this website are CBA Group’s property and / or of their clients. Consequently, any reproduction or representation, and any use of these distinctive signs is prohibited, except with the written consent of their owners.

Link generation to
The website allows the set up of a hypertext link pointing towards its content, except using the technique of « deep linking », i.e the pages of should not be integrated within another website’s pages, but should be accessible through the opening of a new window.
This authorization does not apply in any case to websites displaying controversial, pornographic, or xenophobic information or which could harm sensibility or cause public disorder.

Website editor’s responsibility

Website content:

CBA Group has attempted to ensure the accuracy and the update of the information contained on this website ; CBA Group reserves the right to amend, at any time and without notice, the content. However, CBA Group cannot guarantee the accuracy, the precision or the comprehensiveness of the information carried on this website.

Website access:
CBA Group companies cannot be held liable for any incovenience or damages related to the general use of the Internet, notably in case of service breakdown, external intrusion, downloaded viruses, or damages caused to the equipment or software which would be linked to the use of this website.

Links to other sites:
The site might include links to other Internet websites. Given that CBA Group can’t control these sites, CBA Group cannot bear responsibility for their contents, advertisments, products, services or any other material available on or from these websites. Moreover, CBA Group cannot be held responsible for any damages or loss related to a trust relationship relating to the content, goods or services available on these sites. Privacy policy Visitors are made aware that all personal date collected on this website are automatically processed. Data collected are kept confidential and are for the exclusive use of members and services of CBA Group.
These personal data fall under the dispositions of law « Informatique et Libertés » of January 6, 1978. It is understood that the visitor is given a right of access, amendment or deletion of any personal data related to them, by sending a letter to :
CBA Fabien Godimus
96 rue Edouard Vaillant
92300 Levallois-Perret
or by sending an email to