03 May 2017

Brand ACK

Warren Buffet once said, “Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” Unless you’ve been asleep the past 10 years, you are fully aware of the corporate buzzwords “brand identify” and the push to get businesses and individuals alike to jump on the “brand wagon.” I had the pleasure of attending a local workshop at The Nantucket Hotel recently titled “Brand Human.” It was hosted by Jasmine Takanikos and Nantucket’s own Holly Finigan of the Nantucket blACKbook. The workshop concepts were straightforward, but impactful: Figure out what you’re passionate about, identify how others can benefit from it and then find a way to craft your story through “branding” so that others want what you’re having (or serving, or selling or…you get the picture).
For me it seemed relatively simple…I’m “selling” the Nantucket Experience. It’s an easy sell because everyone wants not only to be part of “team Nantucket,” they also want their own Nantucket Experience. Although it’s a clear-cut concept in theory, the experience Nantucket has to offer is only as good as the people dispensing it. We can market the beautiful beaches, quaint cobblestone streets and historic charm all day long. But if friends or guests arrive and encounter rude people their Nantucket experience will be anything but charming. Successful brand identify lies not only in what one is selling, but on the thoughtful delivery of the human beings accountable to it.
Most of us never questioned United Airlines assurance that we would “fly the friendly skies.” That is, until a few cellphone videos revealed some bad behavior a few weeks ago. Their brand – and our faith in them – was instantly decimated with 5 minutes of poor judgement. All the PR experts and damage control in the world won’t restore it…but perhaps a few good people might. I recently lost my dad and was tasked with traveling with a large posterboard photo of him to use at his funeral service. On two different United flights I explained the importance of the item to the flight attendants and without hesitation each of them found a special storage place for it and treated it as if it were a self-portrait of Mother Teresa herself. Their compassionate service included a hug and heartfelt condolences to me. I haven’t forgotten the video, but I have new faith the skies are still friendly on United because of the people representing the message.
On Nantucket, it’s always much more about the people than the product. The photo above is my daughter and future son-in-law decked out in their Christmas gifts courtesy of Cisco Brewery. Everybody wants to be on the Cisco “brand wagon,” not just because they serve good beer, but because they offer the full Nantucket experience along with it. From the food trucks, to the live music, to the family dogs, it’s a happy place for young and old alike and those smiling bartenders get the credit for serving up fun. Aunt Leah does the same at her fudge shop – chocolate with a smile and a hug too! Stop by the new 45 Surfside and you’ll find Rebecca, the owner, distributing sandwiches and cupcakes with enthusiasm.
As summer fast approaches and everyone takes to the streets in their Nantucket hats, sweatshirts and ACK bumper stickers, all of us (locals and visitors alike) get the opportunity (dare I say privilege?) to be ambassadors for the Nantucket brand. Let’s do our best to live up to the promise our far away island promotes: a serene setting ripe with beauty, nostalgia and friendly people. Let the guy behind you have that prime parking spot. Wave a few drivers through the rotary (even if someone grumpy dares to honk from behind!). Or simply hold a door open or offer a warm smile to everyone you meet. Together, we can ensure everyone has a terrific Nantucket Experience.
ACK nice.

Shellie Dunlap

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