You can’t retweet a memory: Nick Drake, Starbucks, why we roast turkeys

Nick Drake, You Tube

Nick Drake, You Tube

Hurting, brooding, kind of liking how it feels, discovering pain and self-pity as a teenager, with Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. When I hear those songs now it reminds me of that time and it’s even better, it’s been auto-corrected.

At work at Starbucks, I spend two weeks planning for a four hour meeting with a dozen VPs to talk about a new brand, to confront the idea of coffee’s Third Wave, which is really just to slow down, to have ‘moments.’

We get one of the Strategy guys to share with us what’s been presented to the Board. I haven’t met him, but he’s just as I imagined, as the smart Strategy people always are.

He speaks with a supernatural ease and energy. He owns the room, he likes hearing himself talk, we all do. He’s so good, he just sits at the top of the table eating popcorn and then pops up and tells me when to advance the slides. I’m in awe, nodding, inspired to ask questions, jotting notes, I’m so fired up.

Because what he’s saying is smart and common sense, which you don’t always get in corporate meetings. He’s talking about the brand potential of giving people an experience they remember and want to talk about, they want to relive. Call it a halo effect.

Regardless of how you feel about the word ‘brand’ or Starbucks, there’s a simple, base-level association between things we consume and how they make us feel about ourselves, how they trigger memories.

It’s why I always put Nick Drake on at the start of Fall, because I associate this time of year with his moody, stark music. And I can relive the first time I heard him, far away in the hills of southern France while two Englishmen roasted a lamb leg at my mom’s, and we drank Rosé (Pink, Pink, Pink, Pink).

Pink Moon, 1972 Wikipedia

Pink Moon, 1972 Wikipedia

And it’s the same reason I roast turkey in November — for me, the tradition is in the smell and the memories more than the actual meal.

The brand is rooted in a feeling and connection that will always be better than the product itself. Because products don’t have emotions, people do.




Categories: inspiration

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13 replies

  1. Yesterday I wrote this: “Walk through life slowly like you’re carrying two full cups of coffee.” I had just been carrying two full cups of coffee, you see…


  2. Anytime I want to meet with someone and emotionally “connect” , I pick Starbucks. It must be the coffee…


  3. yes, and any product, no matter how lovely, ceases to exist without the human factor and the desire for it.


  4. I like Nick Drake. Sad that he died so young.


  5. The first time I heard Nick Drake was in that Volkswagen commercial and I fell in love with “Pink Moon” but I dunno–he’s kind of depressing (and found his music more so when I learned about his tragic end). It takes a certain amount of emotional strength (that I don’t have) to listen to his music without wanting to open a vein.


    • Yes, that was a first time for many I think – it’s funny how a commercial like that can come at just the right moment and be almost transformational somehow. That record is just 28 minutes long, his third and final. I over-indulge in his music at this time of year, but agree after playing his records back to back I have to open a window or something. And not to jump out, but for fresh air, like clearing out spirits.


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