Tag Archives: gourmet

‘Know Thyself’ – Applied To Your Brand

Like any worthy communications geek I am a firm believer in the value which authenticity creates for a business and subsequently in establishing a brand’s reputation. The creative process is vast and nuanced. The ‘thing’ that drives a creative person forward is their passionate commitment to manifest their vision. Perseverance, certainly a measure of luck, but mostly (I believe) it is infusing authenticity into every detail which makes the rest of us take notice, purchase, and eventually become brand ambassadors. Creative people don’t (necessarily) set out to win accolades, while those are very nice and certainly add to financial success, innovators simply mean to honour their passion and provide those like-minded with their solution. “If you build it…”

I’ve recently encountered two Scandinavian businesses creating global buzz within their respective niches. So completely have Sweden’s ASKET and Norway’s Maaemo gotten it right I want to share them with you as a sort of litmus test for building your own brand efforts. The online identity for both companies is austere Scandinavian – clean, contemporary, timeless, and compelling.

One company offers a permanent (non-trendy, wearable) collection of things men want to wear (and women will likely ‘borrow’) in 15 different sizes, the other gently guides your perspective about sustainability, localisation and cultural heritage through gourmet (nearly private dining) experiences. What these three men, August Bard Bringéus, Jakob Nilsson Dworsky and Esben Holmboe Bang, have in common is their openness about their philosophies, they take us on their journey and they put their names ‘on it’.

ASKET tOf course there is an element of personal branding to this but less than might be found outside of the Nordics. Resonance drives our desire. We want their end products (or experience) for ourselves because authenticity and transparency (even so far as breaking down precise costs) are so integral to their brands.

I had multiple windows open on my laptop when the Maaemo movie began playing. Thus, my initial exposure to Maaemo’s story was through the thoughtfully selected ‘sound’. I knew (without looking) I was about to experience something reverent, primal and ancient, something which would awaken my intellect and senses and move the needle on my perception of Nordic gastronomy. Something the storied Michelin guide recognises in Maaemo having awarded Esben and his small team its third Michelin star.

“To me, the smell of Norway is fire, smoke, salt and drama. There is a useful pain and nerve in the history of the Norwegian people that affects the food in a good way.”                                                                                                                                  ~ Esben Holmboe Bang

asket pileEqually so the perfection offered by August Bard Bringéus. He wanted a white t-shirt.

What both August and Esben have in common is that they view themselves as ‘outsiders’ (either to the culture or the industry vertical) and their efforts are their personal interpretations which they offer for our consideration.

So much about ensuring we even have a planet to call home is about making conscious purchasing choices, buying less but of great, lasting quality – equally valued whether experiential or material, and aesthetically exciting. We don’t get to that purchasing decision without the creative efforts of others. Without their peeling away the layers of their journey we are stuck with simply buying a sweater or eating a meal. As the specter of mediocrity runs rampant perhaps in 2018 examples such as Maaemo and Asket can serve to remind us, might ignite our collective consciousness, to elevate our consumption. Regardless, the way they have aligned their brands with their respective ethos sets standards worth emulating.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Alberghi diffusi, the truest luxury is dictated by finely crafted authenticity

The recent Travel & Leisure article entitled Reviving the Italian Village takes a note of vanity efforts afforded by the enormously wealthy. That might seem a judgmental statement, it isn’t. I am grateful for anyone, for whatever reason, choosing to take on the arduous process of heritage preservation.

When Dr. Giancarlo Dall’Ara originated the concept of alberghi diffusi thirty years ago, long before futurists started speaking of circular economies, I believe he aspired to create a noble legacy which would positively impact rural Italian economies by driving tourism, ensuring the preservation of cultural heritage and providing a path to the continuation of a more connected way of living. As urban life has become more complicated and messy, much like the value proposition offered by Product of Designated Origin (PDO) assignation, the alberghi diffusi now has the potential to fulfill a demand for an authenticity remarkably devoid from most contemporary life. I don’t see alberghi diffusi as a Utopian fantasy but a model of socio-cultural, economic and environmental sustainability, scalable and practical in perfect harmony, and logical extension of what I set out to create with Thistle & Broom back in 2003.

The haemorrhaging of rural communities, and the diaspora of countries alike, is not new. Natural disasters and economic hardships have driven great migrations of people to cities nearer, and very far away from agrarian lifestyles for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

The currently running ‘Anno dei borghi’, organised by Italy’s MIBACT (Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism) is designed to entice visitors to explore 18 regions and help manage the impact of the tourism sector growth on Italy’s urban areas – as well as spread the economic impact around.

Creating an alberghi diffusi from a near ruined village without services takes time. Italy’s unemployment hovers around 11%, and is more than three times higher among those under the age of 25. Housing, following the 2016 earthquake, remains at a premium. At the end of a rather long and dark tunnel two emerging trends of isolation as luxury and experiential travel provide a much welcome light. Mind you this isolation is not a minimalistic, silence-only spiritual retreat but one replete with simple but exquisite accommodations, agro-tourism / slow food / gourmet dining, extraordinary privacy and ultra-high speed internet connections – all of which create jobs, and provide economic stability.

It is here that a sweet spot of sustainable development exists, a convergence of yet-to-be alberghi diffusi with a tremendous opportunity to prove systems destined for adoption in Smart Cities. I am not referencing autonomous cars but rather reinvigorating, and making contemporary circular economies which have always existed in communities bound by the ‘butcher, baker and candlestick maker’. The alberghi diffusi model is a solution to any number of pressing contemporary issues worthy of both investment monies and public policies support.

Clean-tech incubated in alberghi diffusi would pull villages off the easily hacked central grid while providing self-sufficiency. What’s more, this model allows those individuals not lured to the bright city lights to continue practicing (or develop) arts, crafts and traditional hand-skills of a region with the market (quite literally) coming to the mountain. Imagine bathing with organic botanical goats’ milk soap and sleeping on crisp linen sheets hand-woven from blue flowered flax grown in the meadows surrounding these villages which a year before was wafting in the breeze and growing tall in the sunlight. That the village is masterfully IoT connected and a set (or two) of those linens can be ordered and paid for with a voice command based upon block-chain technology generates real efficiencies and quality of life for all parties.

The truest luxury is dictated not by fashion, but finely crafted authenticity and the improved efficiencies offered by technology.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you!