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Putting Maine Back in Maine Lobster

Three entrepreneurs reinvent the state’s most visible brand.

For John Jordan of Calendar Islands Maine Lobster, the light bulb went on when lobster prices collapsed in 2008. For Linda Bean of Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster, it was watching another truck loaded with Maine lobsters headed to Canada. For Luke Holden of Luke’s Lobster, it was biting into a 30-dollar lobster roll in Manhattan that was drowning in mayonnaise.

Each of these entrepreneurs had a moment when he or she decided to challenge the once widely shared belief that Maine lobsters sell themselves. That quaint idea, although not as extinct as the great auk, has certainly been upended by recent industry entrants who believe investing in a brand identity will add to everyone’s bottom line.

Linda Lorraine Bean got her start in the branding world the old fashioned way. She inherited the notion from her grandfather, Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean and her uncle, Leon Gorman, relatives who built the family brand of L.L.Bean into an international powerhouse. When she almost accidentally got involved in the lobster industry in 2007, it may have been second nature for her to think about how to brand Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster.