Before “branding” was a household word, Arthur E. Bartlett, the founder of real estate franchising giant Century 21, knew the power of a big name.

In 1955, at the age of 22, he sold products for Campbell Soup Co. to stores in the Los Angeles area. He saw supermarkets get bigger and mom-and-pop stores slowly disappear. So, in 1971, when he co-founded Century 21 in Santa Ana, Calif., he knew franchising was the way to help little guys fight like big guys.

“Correct or not, consumers have confidence in the big, brand name,” Bartlett told the Los Angeles Times in 1982. “Franchising has been the savior of free enterprise in this country. It has given the small businessman a way to survive.”

Bartlett died on Dec. 31, 2009, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to his daughter, Stacy Bartlett Renshaw. He was 76.