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Elbert Hubbard: An American Original - WNED | PBS

For Educators

Branding: Hubbard, Oprah and Me


It is said that Roycroft was a success because of the marketing genius of Hubbard and that he and his personality became the symbol of Roycroft. The term used for this today is "branding." Students will look at Hubbard’s marketing strategies and at those of Oprah Winfrey, seeking to discover the branding elements in each. They will take a commodity and collaboratively create a new branding strategy for the selected commodity.


Students will:

  • Understand the concept of branding
  • Articulate the elements of branding
  • Articulate Elbert Hubbard’s branding strategies
  • Articulate Oprah Winfrey’s branding strategies
  • Develop a branding strategy collaboratively

Necessary Materials

  • DVD of "Elbert Hubbard: An American Original"
  • TV and DVD player
  • Computers
  • Internet
  • Elements of Branding graphic organizer - Download PDF File
  • Branding Analysis worksheet - Download PDF File

Relevant National Standards:

Teaching Procedure

  • Research online the concept of branding, using the Web links provided.
  • Brainstorm in small groups the elements of branding based on the research. Using these elements create a graphic organizer, either online or the one provided.
  • Watch the "Elbert Hubbard: An American Original" documentary carefully, listening for keyword such as "salesman," "personality," "mastermind" and "packaging." Use what is gleaned from the video and additional research done on Hubbard using the links and materials provided to fill in the graphic organizer with his branding strategies.
  • Looking at Oprah's Web site, the CNBC show "Oprah's Branding Effect" and doing Internet research using the sites given, fill in the graphic organizer with Oprah’s branding strategies.
  • Divide students into teams. They will select a brand they want to study. Using the Internet, magazine articles and other information that can be accessed, the students will analyze a current manufacturer brand and the brand’s advertising techniques. They will fill out the Branding Analysis worksheet as they do their research.
  • The teams will either create a different branding strategy for the researched commodity, or select another commodity, perhaps a competitor, and create a branding strategy for that commodity. They will base their campaign around the branding elements they have brainstormed. The goal is to increase sales by providing a new marketing approach and/or a campaign that reaches a different target market. Teams will complete a visual illustrating their new advertising campaign and either in written or oral form develop a persuasive presentation describing how their plan will increase sales.


  • Completed graphic organizer
  • Completed Brand Analysis sheet
  • Effectiveness of visual for ad campaign
  • Effectiveness of persuasive presentation

Extension Activities:

  • Just as Oprah did, have students build a brand strategy for themselves. This could include many of the same branding elements from this lesson, as well as designing their own logo, brand name and color scheme.

Online Resources:

The Branding of America. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.'s.%20Picture%20of%20woman%20tasting%20soup

Driving Teen Egos—and Buying—through Branding. American Psychology Association, June 2004. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

The Fundamentals About Branding., 3 Nov. 2003. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Graphic Organizers. Houghton Miflin, Harcourt, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

"The Oprah Effect." CNBC. N.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010. Harpo Productions, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Oprah Winfrey. Academy of Achievement, 2 Feb. 2005. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

The Persuaders. PBS, 9 Nov. 2004. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

The Roycroft Community. Arts & Crafts Society, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Walle, Alf H., and Marcella Brimo. "From Soap to Society: Elbert Hubbard and His Saga of Selling." Quinnipiac University. N.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2010.

Suggested Vocabulary: advertising, branding, commodity, communications plan, logo, marketing, mastermind, packaging, strategy, trademark, target markets

Supplemental Material:

Cooper, Ilene. Oprah Winfrey: A Twentieth Century Life. New York: Viking, 2007. Print.
Frontline: The Merchants of Cool. PBS. 2001. Video
Frontline: The Persuaders. PBS. 2004. Video
Goldberg, Jan. Careers for Competitive Spirits and Other Peak Performers. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007. Print.
Goldberg, Jan. Careers for Persuasive Types and Others Who Won't Take No for an Answer. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007. Print.
Mierau, Christina. Accept No Substitutes! The History of American Advertising. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2000. Print.
Walker, Rob. Buying In: the Secret Dialogue between What We Buy and Who We Are. New York: Random House, 2008. Print.

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Funding for Elbert Hubbard: An American Original provided by The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original is a production of WNED-TV