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Now, let’s start with Anthony Bourdain.
Even though it is SUPPOSED to be about cooking and food, it is really about EVERYTHING: humanity, culture, politics, people, arts, music, environment, customs, lifestyle, human struggles, conditions, and connection, stories, poetry, … all threaded together with the theme of food.
Anthony Bourdain was a master in creating the experience poetically, artfully, and authentically, AND engaging viewers in the experience he presented on CNN.
If Anthony Bourdain perceived “Parts Unknown” as limited as cooking, cuisines, and food only, if he limited his show to be about spices, ingredients, cooking, recipes, and cooking utensils,… his show would not be very different from Julia Child’s French cooking TV series.
But Bourdain’s poetry and curiosity encompassed the entire world. If food was his melody, each episode of “Parts Unknown” was a full orchestral masterpiece of a glorious symphony, a visual and emotional feast of stories composed of rich, diverse, and complex voices and harmonies. We often forget that the show was about food and cooking while immersed in his journey.
The word “branding” to some people means logo design. But to me, “branding” is just like Anthony Bourdain’s definition of “food”–it is everything: strategic branding consultancy, brand building, brand DNA decoding, rebrand or new launch, market positioning, business transformation, target audience profiling, M&A marketing, business model & planning, vision, mission, goals, corporate culture, brand legacy and loyalty, digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, website, videos, brand visuals, graphic design, LinkedIn profiles, SEO…(I am out of breath.)
The purpose of developing a brand–a successful brand–is likewise to engage a brand’s target audience to experience, to create memories and affinity with the brand.
Like Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”, a successful brand, say Nike, is not just about a pair of sneakers. Nike could have limited its affinity to be only with sneaker-related products, such as deodorant shoe sprays, insoles, shoe strings, … but no, Nike has no interest whatsoever in viewing itself merely for the utility value of a pair of (smelly) sneakers. Nike constantly pushes the world to associate its brand with the indomitable spirits of the world’s best athletes. Nike wants to be a symbol for human aspiration, for justice, for freedom, and for humanity’s passion for achieving a higher level of greatness. Other brands like Apple and Tesla do the same.
A brand is its vision, and the vision makes all the difference between Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain in presenting food and cooking, between branding Nike as sneakers instead of a symbol for human aspiration, between a computing machine rather than a brand for excellence called Apple, and between an electric car vs. humankind’s free orbiting vehicle in outer space.
©Joanne Tan, 2021. Edited by Susan Olson.
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