Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Old Chevy

In the '70s, my parents had an affinity for American cars.  One of our cars was a '79 powder blue (!) faux wood paneled (!!) Caprice Classic station wagon.  We took innumerable road trips in that car (New York, DC, Smoky Mountains, Wisconsin Dells, etc.).

And this affinity is not reserved for those who live in the U.S. alone.  In Iran, Amir's dad drove his beloved (manual transmission) Chevy Nova for easily 30 years.  He treated it like his third child.  And it was.

I was too young to know if my mom's car was a good performer - all I know is that I spent a lot of time in it and have warm fuzzy memories of it much like I have warm fuzzy memories of going to a Sears store as a child though I may not have those same feelings today.

I love this commercial.

I was half paying attention to the TV this past weekend when this spot caught my eye and within a moment, I was in love.  I've seen it many times now.  Please watch it and we'll continue our chat.

What's the big deal?

In this post, I told you of Amir's love of porridge and that every time I make it, he's instantly transported to a happy place. The effect is instantaneous and I'm never tired of how this very simple food causes such a transformation.

I love the story of the father's old Chevy because his reaction and transformation is like Amir's. The father's reaction was about more than just the car. It was his history, it was his identity, it was his freedom and a host of other things.  Just seeing him grab his heart (which, between us, concerned me) shows that his connection to the car and to the brand is more than just it was a vehicle that helped him get from A to B.

The car and the Chevy brand are inextricably linked to his identity and when both came back into his life, it was extremely emotional. And not just for him... his children took five years to find the car which shows an obvious love for their father but, also, just as deep an emotional connection to that car.

Don't be afraid of your softer side.

I love this commercial because it did not display one new Chevy model.  I love it because it didn't directly talk about Brand Chevrolet all that much either.  It didn't need to do that.  It was a narrative of long standing love, legacy and loyalty.  It's as if Chevy was secure in its legacy (without hubris) to shift the focus from itself to the love affair between a man, his children and his car.  

And they told the story better than any manufactured family centric commercial could.  How do I know?  I instantly remembered every single road trip and adventure in our old station wagon.  Powerful stuff.

What's the lesson here?  

Be an emotional brand.  Be a brand that creates strong bonds that go beyond the nuts, bolts, features and benefits of how you serve your customers.  Be a brand that showcases our customers while you stand in the background.  It pays off.

Please share your thoughts - I'd love to hear from you.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Are You A Pomegranate?

There hasn't been a time in my life where pomegranates weren't a major part: either raw, its molasses as a key ingredient of Persian cuisine or in juice form.  They're in season for only a few months and we enjoy them fresh as much as we can.

Culturally, pomegranates are significant, too.  They're a symbol of love and fertility so they are prominent at Persian weddings.  They also play a role during the winter solstice where we celebrate rebirth and the shift of the sun towards longer days.

They've been around for several thousand years and my people have been enjoying them for nearly that long, too.

Featured image courtesy of xamonster licensed via Creative Commons 

Where exactly is this going?

I read this post yesterday by Margie Clayman and it reminded me of pomegranates.  For me, it's comical to see them become SO popular in the U.S. recently and treated in the domestic media and cooking shows almost as if they were just discovered while they've been enjoyed by many others for thousands of years.

That said, with knowledge and experience comes responsibility which is Margie's point.  She has it exactly right when it comes to sharing what you know in the social media space as opposed to behaving dismissively.  I could be smug about pomegranates but what I should do is share why I love them so (as I have above).

Equilibrium is the name of the game.

Whether trying to win new business or keeping current customers happy, there has to be equilibrium.  This means that we live in a perpetual circle of good where we share either what's new to someone or reinforce a concept already known but perhaps stated in a different way.  Essentially, it's never what we share as it is that we're sharing it in the first place to maintain equilibrium.  Most importantly, it's how we share it that sets us apart from others.

Why?  Let's remember our school days.  The teacher was at the front of the classroom sharing new concepts and was in a position of authority.  Some teachers loved power and could make life miserable if we "didn't play by the rules" in the classroom.  It felt like teaching us was their way of extending a favor which created fear (and loathing).  The lesson wasn't the content but that of leverage.

Other teachers created a community and shared information that fed our curiosity and flamed our passion for more knowledge.  The lesson also wasn't the content but the spirit of asking for and receiving tools to further our success.  We were grateful for what we learned and asked for more.

Be a pomegranate.

Today as we're trying to win new or retain business, let's keep that schoolroom image in mind.  Do we really want to approach business development with an obvious addition to power with a dash of smug?  Do we really want to be the business that loves power and uses our product/industry knowledge leverage over customers?  I didn't think so.

Like the pomegranate, we should be a symbol of love and fertility to new and existing customers.  How we engage with others should be based on sharing what we know to help them become more successful.  It will flame the passion for more which we should gladly provide.

What say you?  Please share below and, if you've enjoyed this, please share with others.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef