be authentic quote
Credit: Pinterest

Over the weekend, I saw this quote on Pinterest.

Everyone values genuineness. Why does a Chanel bag cost thousands of dollars but a knock off can be bought for much less? Why is Coca Cola a company that is worth billions, with its branding strategy and marketing tactics being used as educational material in business schools yet the knock-offs have names which no one knows and probably have no brand stories to talk about.

We as consumers are getting increasingly sophisticated. We care about the brands we buy. I know I do. From a small item like a can of soda to large items like a car, we buy into what a brand promises and relate to the stories these brands tell.

As someone who loves writing and enjoys a good story, I cannot resist Diptyque candles because this brand not only seduces me with all the wonderfully peculiar scents, but it draws me in with the originality of each story told about a product.

Read this for example:

Oyédo. A name with the sharp zing of citrus zest and the minimalistic grace of an antique Japanese garden. This poetic alliance draws its inspiration from Japan’s ancient imperial city, Edo. In the land of the rising sun, the slightly spicy freshness of yuzu, a small fruit in the citrus family, is very popular. At the heart of the fragrance, it gains all of its icy elegance in a unique accord of juicy raspberry and thyme. Just as yuzu brings out the flavour of a delicate Japanese dish, Oyédo awakens the skin like a cold shiver.

A short paragraph it might seem, but so compellingly and strategically crafted. Transporting the reader to an exotic land, while empowering us to imagine the scent.

Shopping for fragrances was never about just the smells, it was always about the stories. You must know about Chanel No. 5. It is one of the most famous perfumes in the world. When you wear this scent, it is all about power, seduction, channeling your inner French goddess. One does not buy the golden liquid in the glass bottle. One buys a dream. And this is one expensive dream but every woman I know agrees it is worth it. No one is seeking out cheaper substitute, everyone wants the original.

Food is a passion of mine. I frequently try out new restaurants but even more often than not, I like revisiting old favourites. We knew about Rodizio in Scheveningen, Den Haag a few years ago, when I wanted grilled meat à la Brazilian style. This place makes one feel the warmth of Brazil, even on a bleak wintery day. The food is an epitome of generosity and the service is true hospitality. We even befriended a few long-time staff working there! While I do not care much for the dancing, I know many diners who delight in the twice-a-night performance, reminiscence of being in a carnival. What the restaurant gives us is an authentic experience. It is no wonder that they are always full when neighbouring restaurants are always cold and empty by comparison.

This popular restaurant has its fair share of competition, with people trying to use the “Rodizio” name. Rodizio is a Brazilian word and it simply means an all-you-can-eat style of restaurant service, so technically any one can use this name. But the copycat  restaurants come and go, they never last. They might have similar names but they could not match the outstanding service and the quality (and quantity) of food served.

A few years back, we tried one such restaurant in Rotterdam. It had just opened for business for a few weeks and there was a Groupon discount. Usually I do not trust Groupon deals but my then boyfriend (current husband) thought this was our favourite Rodizio restaurant expanding to Rotterdam. The experience was a horrendous one which I still remember. Food served ridiculously late, hungry clients sulking at their tables, each time a server came out with skewers of meat, all eyeballs followed the guy, each person not so secretly wishing those skewers were for him or her! We asked several times what happened to our food, and if they could hurry a little as we were starving, having waited for more than an hour. No one cared. We hanged in there for close to 2 hours for our dinner. It felt as though no one was working in the kitchen. Eventually, a small pathetic portion of the food was finally served, but I was on my way out of the door. In less than a year, the restaurant closed down.

Speaking of original, I have to mention Jamie Oliver. Since the days of Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver has established himself as authentic and relatable, endearing himself to all viewers on TV, imparting his knowledge of cooking to us all, infecting us with his love for food. I remembered watching him on TV, fascinated with the dishes he was cooking, but also, totally mesmerised by his easygoing, relaxed and humorous demeanour. He goes on to build his food empire – opening restaurants, publishing cookbooks, producing his own cookery shows, bringing us with him to his beloved Italy, taking on school lunches, advocating healthy eating, encouraging us to make a meal under 30 minutes, under 15 minutes… this guy never stops! And he never stops being himself on TV, constantly cooking, constantly teaching, constantly starting conversations. I was thrilled when he expanded his business to Netherlands, and I am not surprised people love him here.

So whenever I see new / young food TV presenter hosting their own shows, such as on 24 Kitchen, I cannot help but compare them to young Jamie Oliver from all those years ago. And more often than not, I’ll miss Jamie’s trademark enthusiasm, ease and relatable persona. I’ll start to wonder how these young presenters can set themselves apart; do they care or are they merely doing a job? Then I realise we might all be unique in our own ways, but we do not always have a clear idea how to leverage on what makes us original. Some people might not even be aware of what makes them original. That is definitely worth a thought.

It might sound easy on paper, but I suppose in reality, we are often afraid no one will accept us or like us for being original. I firmly believe being original has value and worth. Being original is how we can stand out as business owners. As we think about our brand story, it is inevitable to think about what makes our business original, and find ways to celebrate that originality. To blow it up, to tell the world, to be proud of it. To do all that, you need to have the courage in accepting what makes you original.

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