Chapter 3Brand Ideology

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the people to gather wood […] teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Organizations with a strong sense of purpose and identity can achieve remarkable things. Soon after he'd finished writing his timeless children's classic, The Little Prince, Saint-Exupery left to join the Free French Air Force in North Africa. When the French government signed an armistice with Germany, a relatively obscure French Brigadier General named Charles de Gaulle, had refused to surrender, flown to London and established the Free French Movement with the clear and unequivocal purpose of continuing the fight until France had been liberated. To this end, the Movement adopted the Cross of Lorraine, a symbolic reference to Joan of Arc, the spiritual heroine who had inspired the French to expel the English 500 years before. During the first year they numbered no more than a few thousand. They were branded traitors by the Vichy French government, but fought on. In 1942, a relatively small unit of Free French troops, dug in around the remote North African desert outpost of Bir Hakeim, stopped what appeared to be an overwhelming German advance on the British in Egypt. They held off the full might of General Rommel's Panzer divisions and sustained attack from the air for 15 days. It killed the advance and saved the British, enabling them to regroup along the line later know as El Alamein. Rommel later declared: ...

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