Why your branding should start with dinner.

haricotsvert-salad.jpg Peace Flag House

Stuck on branding?Make dinner.

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I brought homemade bread and strawberry jam to my thesis defence.

True story, darlings! My Master’s thesis defence was at 8:30 am and I knew we’d all be hungry, so I made a fresh loaf of soda bread that morning and brought my homemade strawberry jam. When the committee members arrived they each paused at the door, slowly registering the smell of warm bread. I could literally see shoulders relax and smiles creep across faces. One member sighed and said “I didn’t have time for breakfast. This is perfect.”

Don’t worry. They still asked me tough questions and I still had to think carefully about my answers. But everyone took part in the defense while groaning over the bread and sharing stories of the jam their grandmother’s used to make.

After the defence was over (I passed, by the way), the committee members questioned me on my decision to bring food. They had never enjoyed homemade treats during a thesis defense before.

I had to pause and consider my answer. For me, it was absolutely natural to eat during a meeting.

How on earth could we be expected to get through tough questions and thoughtful discussion with an empty stomach? How else would I show them respect and honour if I didn’t share food with them? How could they know I was serious about my work if I didn’t invest in the meeting?

Food is both a means of communication and one of life’s greatest pleasures. Both are absolutely essential to a good life.

And both are also absolutely essential to doing really good work.

The leisurely hustle

Here’s the honest-to-goodness truth. Neither Pascal or I particularly care for the grind. We like fun, food and wine too much. We don’t buy this narrative that we have to deny ourselves pleasure in order to succeed and do good in the world. That sounds like a recipe for burn-out and resentment. We’d rather participate in something called the leisurely hustle (I can’t take credit for this brilliant term. See Tonya Leigh here).

In other words, we work very hard but not at the expense of pleasure. Our guiding principle is how can we make this more pleasurable? More fun? More delightful and decadant? More tempting and soul-filling?

Experience has shown us that magic happens when the delight factor is high. And that holds true for branding, business meetings and PR events. When you open the doors to delight, good things happen.

“My first meeting at Peace Flag House was like having lunch with a friend…”

My heart fluttered when I heard our client describe her first meeting at Peace Flag House. This is just the sort of atmosphere that creates brilliant ideas and welcomes inspiration. I’ve certainly never been successful at hammering my way to progress. But a homecooked meal and a glass of Champagne? That always opens the doors to inspired ideas.

And who doesn’t want to have a business meeting or branding session that feels good, tastes good and is even a touch fun?

When we work on a brand’s positioning we always start with a meal and a good long chat. We spend time deciphering the feelings a brand or organization wants to bring into the world. It’s from here that a strong, authentic and nourishing brand narrative will emerge that truly aligns with the founder, team and purpose of the brand.

This is why we always eat at meetings and why, so often, I prepare a homecooked meal. Food is communication and pleasure, two important factors that build success and cultivate inspiration.

So, my darlings, if you’re a new ethical luxury brand just starting out and overwhelmed by the task, or if you’re looking at a rebrand, please take time to make dinner. If you’re adventurous, make it a really productive dinner and invite friends.

Use the time around the table to slow down and chat. Talk about the feelings you want your brand to bring into the world. How do you want customers to feel? How do you want to feel? Tell your dinner guests your ideas and desires, and then listen carefully to their responses. Make notes. Ask people to pull out their phones and show you an image that expresses their idea. Take in their examples. Ask more questions. Pour another glass of wine. Linger over dessert.

In other words, let the food work its magic.