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).
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.