Archive for October, 2010

A brand story lets the brand speak for itself

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

As I see it, the most authentic brand stories are those that let the brand speak for itself. Rather than fabricate a brand context from make believe, they tap into the vision, values, character and behavior that make the brand what it is. They’re stories organic to the brand, and can be so at an infinite variety of creative levels.

The goal of the brand story

The goal of the brand story is to reveal the identity, character and qualities of the brand, so the brand can stand forth on its own terms, and in its own terms, in a (radical) context that frees customers from the numbing constraints of convention. The brand story unfolds the essence of the brand, layer by layer, nuance by nuance, detail by detail, through the people, products, materials, processes, ideas, passions, aspirations, actions and interactions that make the brand what it is. In short, the brand story is a revelation of what makes the brand tick. This can be on one or a dozen levels.

Tartine bread

A brand story doesn’t have to follow a conventional narrative format. Sometimes it’s simply a profound insight into the brand, a glimpse or slice so deep that it sends tsunamis outward. The video below is such a brand story. It’s subject is San Francisco’s famed Tartine bread, crafted by baker Chad Robertson. Robertson has won a prestigious James Beard award and is considered to be among the best bread makers in the United States.

Note that this is not a “story” about the brand. It is the brand speaking. The best brand stories are told by the brand. In a uniquely creative way they voice the brand.

A brand story evokes and exemplifies the brand

I think this particular brand story does an excellent job of letting the brand speak for itself, at its own pace, in its own words, and in its own special context. It was produced to support a new book on home bread making from Tartine and Chronicle books, but what shines through most are the essential qualities that make Tartine “Tartine.” In this regard, the story both evokes and exemplifies the brand.


The brand as product ingredient and catalyst

Lastly, in its low-key and relaxed way, this brand story shows how the brand itself is an essential product ingredient and catalyst. The brand is everywhere—as it should be.

Tartine Bread video credit: 4SP Films

Building a restaurant brand—from the kitchen out

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant in California’s Napa Valley has been acclaimed as one of the finest restaurants in the United States, and in the world. It has achieved this rare distinction not by “branding” campaigns but by the extraordinary dishes that the restaurant serves to its guests. The brand is built from the kitchen out.

Thanks to a recent behind-the-scenes report in the San Francisco Chronicle, we can glimpse how the vision and values in the French Laundry kitchen translate into a world-class restaurant brand.

The brand as a method of achieving excellence

Some of my takeaways from the article:

  1. The French Laundry “brand” is a method of achieving excellence
  2. The brand tolerates no compromises in the pursuit of quality
  3. The brand is a culinary collaboration, a total team effort
  4. The brand is a shared discipline
  5. The brand doesn’t coast. It continually pushes the edge of creativity and innovation.

The French Laundry website has more information on the restaurant’s mission and values, and its menus.