By Lucas Compan
Branding is not advertising. Advertising is a temptation. Branding is an experience. Branding leads to an ownership, to a relationship, to an emotional connection, to a dialogue, to improvement. Advertising is something more distant, it feels like a monologue. Advertising is a promise. Branding and design is something more tangible – you can touch it, wear it, smell it, hear it, see it.
We are all surrounded by branding, all the time. Since the very moment we wake up, until we go back to bed at night. Brands are in everybody’s world – whether we like it or not. The challenge to marketeers, brand managers, and creative people working with brands is to design experiences that bring something positive and useful to people’s life. Branding can build a better world, generate jobs, expand business – and even save lives, companies, cities, countries.
In May 20, 2012, Modena, a small city and comune on the south side of the Po Valley, in the Province of Modena – in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, was dealing with a serious earthquake. The Consortium Parmigiano is a traditional business established in that region since 1934. It was about to lose 360,000 wheels of the traditional and globally famous cheese. Along with all those wheels of cheese (half of the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano), thousands of jobs would be disappearing, tens of small business would be plunging – and the economy of the city would be very damaged.
A very creative branding solution was designed by the president and the people working with the consortium, and Chef Massimo Bottura: Massimo created a recipe of Riso Cacio e Pepe, a special risotto using Parmigiano cheese. Then, Chef Massimo told the world what was going on in Modena, and how the world could help them to rebuild its businesses.
The response to the challenge was very quick. Tokyo, São Paulo, London, New York, cities around the world were demanding more and more Parmigiano cheese, so they could cook the Riso Cacio e Pepe to their customers. Forty thousand chefs from four corners of the planet were using Massimo’s recipe, helping people of Modena.
Voilà! This is an example of how branding can build solutions that improve lives. At the end of the day, it was good for Massimo’s personal and restaurant’s brand (Osteria Francescana), it was good for increasing tourism in Modena, it was good for Parmigiano-Reggiano’s brand awareness – but it was even better to bring relief, hope, and joy to those people dealing with a painful situation, making their life much better.