Great storytelling is about passion. The Italians get it. They aren’t shy or timid or reserved about things they love and care about. And when you hear a story full of genuine passion, you instantly want to be part of it. It’s what makes you clap and sing in a restaurant with strangers. It’s what makes you keep going back to a far-away country over and over and over again.
And I can’t think of a better word to describe Italy, Italians, and most importantly, their cuisine. I can’t help but become instantly drawn to people (and brands) when they are passionate about what they do, and every time I am in Italy I’m quite simply amazed at the passion that radiates from the people. This uniquely Italian characteristic is contagious, and one of the many reasons that I believe their tourism industry continues to thrive. On this most recent trip to Sicily, I had two incredible experiences where the passionate people behind brands compelled me to love their products…even before I tasted them. That’s a valuable lesson for brands here.
The first was a tour of the Asaro Olive Oil Factory. The team was so excited about showing us around that they opened the farm on a Sunday just for us. When Nico walked us around the farm his passion for the olives and products they produce was incredible, even through his limited English (and our even more limited Italian). The story he told was focused on the care and the detail around the production of the olive oil, and the passion was palpable. Of course, there’s a lot of technology that could make the process more efficient, but here, the olives for Asaro’s olive oil are still picked and processed by hand. Our host was appalled at the very thought of the damage a machine would do to the olives. Still, I couldn’t help but think, how will they communicate this love to consumers who can’t have the experience we did?
At the end of the tour, we were tempted by the full range of delicious products inside a quaint little store that included olives, olive spread, artichokes, artichoke spread, and even honey. I think we bought one of everything. There’s no doubt the entire experience positively influenced our feelings about the taste of the olive oil and everything else. This immersive experience is what brands need to recreate. And ideally, consumers would be inspired to recreate if for each other. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve convinced to buy products from this company already.
The very same thing happened a few days later when we joined a wine tasting on a beautiful little island off of Sicily called Salina. The sommelier took us on a tour through the Capofaro Vineyard enthusiastically talking about the different kinds of grapes and the unique way they harvest the grapes and produce the wine.
We couldn’t help but get caught up in the passion of the sommelier’s vivid descriptions of the wine. We nodded our heads in agreement as we tried five different kinds of wine: a sparkling Almerita Extra Brut, two whites Grillo and Nozze D’Oro, a red Lamuri, and a dessert wine actually called Capofaro. They all were fabulous, and even if they weren’t, they were (and still are), to those of us who had the experience. The passion she was projecting rubbed off on us, and we’ll try to recreate the experience over and over again.
Once back home, my daughter announced she wasn’t eating pasta for a month. She managed to hold out four full days before she made a pasta dish with some of the artichokes we bought in Italy. They were the best artichokes I’ve ever tasted. No exaggeration. I can’t help but wonder if it all tastes even better now as the memories of our experience in Sicily are recreated here at home.
Passion will make you love and share a brand, and American brands can learn a lot from the Italians. But with technology, some of that passion can be lost. We need to better utilize social channels we are already using to share the passion even further. That’s real brand power. If you want help figuring out how to share your passion for your brand and connect to your consumers, we can help, let’s talk.