You may recall a recent photography commission I was entrusted with, of an incredible Dorset farm. So you will also appreciate the joy at receiving the following email from my client.
I need my own marketing consultant to put into words how amazing the photo book is!
It is as if you jumped into our brains and captured 17 years of visual memories.
I love the way you have given equal importance to both the workings of the farm and to the beauty of the farm.
I really appreciate how you acted on my throw away remarks on what was important to us and captured them visually – the water butt, chalk path, the milk parlour…
When the canvas is as beautiful as that farm, capturing it is a mere press of a button. What a joy to be part of this incredible project. Thank you, Karen, for entrusting this into my care. I wish you and David all the very best.
I don’t know what it is about florals, but I love them. I love looking at them. I love smelling them. I love photographing them. Perhaps it’s that the lens captures so much more than my eye can. Perhaps it’s the ability to look at the petal itself in crisp clearness against a backdrop of nothing. Perhaps it’s the contrast between the dark tennis court green and a bright fuscia or lilac.
I don’t know what it is.
And living in Beaminster – it makes it easy to fall in love with the summer garden frenzy that takes over – despite the clouds and rain. When the sunshine hits, Garden Centres are full, the smell of mulch lingers on the breeze like the carrot cake you baked that morning.
Hope you enjoy these florals, just as much as I enjoyed snapping them.
I saw my dad’s doppelgänger today.
I was standing next to the eggs, feeling frustrated that all the large free range eggs had sold out, when I looked up and saw this chap pushing his trolley towards me. Dressed in a pair of beige chinos, a navy blue jumper and light-blue collared shirt, covered up by a light brown bunny jacket (apologies if that’s spelt incorrectly – I have never had the need to actually write “bunny jacket” – and now I have my doubts as to whether it’s a real thing or not). Grey hair, small bump on the right hand side of his forehead and a sweet peaceful smile on his face. He caught my eye as he made his way towards the baguettes.
My stomach dropped into my Clarks pumps as the entire surrounding population of shoppers blurred into nothing and the world only existed for this gent and I.
You see – my dad passed away just over a year ago. And being a South African living in the UK – I have done most of my grieving from a distance while trying to balance the perception of “not being at home with Pops” against the “he’s not here anymore” comprehension.
So, as you would imagine, this split second of realisation caused my entire retaining wall, to crumble.
I pulled into the Whole Foods aisle while I tried to regain my composure. It didn’t work. So decided to go and say hello nonetheless.
I tapped him on his shoulder. He looked around at this blubbering mess and I commenced to explain that he reminded me so much of my dad and that I just wanted to say hello.
Expecting nothing less – he stood slightly frigid, but still smiling awkwardly – not quite understanding what to make of this melted pot of goo that interrupted his mission of a morning shop. Trying to make chit chat – he asked whether I was local. I said I was. I asked whether he was. He said no. I apologised for the emotion. He said that there was no need to. And at that point, I became aware of my invasion of his non-emotion with mine, and I took my leave by tapping him on the arm again and saying something ridiculously mundane like, “Thanks. It was nice to see you”.
I returned to my trolley – and power-walked my way through the brans, past the tuna and to the closest check-out counter I could find.
Hardly containing my emotion – I simply put my sunglasses on, paid my bill and left.
So – why have I shared all of this?
Well, later that evening, this little episode consumed me. Let’s play it back – quick statistical check:
I realised that my emotional outburst must have confused / annoyed / intrigued my doppelgänger dad. I wondered what he was thinking when I furiously pushed my trolley away. Did he just shake his head and associate my instability with “typical small-town country” behaviour? Or did this perplex him too. Whatever it was – I got to thinking about the exchange.
Imagine for a second that my doppelgänger dad is your brand. You merrily live your life, doing things, taking part in things, living in a world that is familiar to you. You have your ups and downs and you just go through each day facing whatever challenges and opportunities that confront you. Except – one day, you meet someone who doesn’t know your brand. They come from their own world and their own challenges, and they encounter your brand which represents a certain something to them. A certain something which you have no knowledge, or control of. And you are at once faced with an impression that you didn’t create, but one which created itself for them.
We are our own brands – and as much as we try to create an impression to represent something specific, there will almost always be a case where, as hard as you may try, your brand represents something completely different, to someone.
It either excludes. Or it includes. It either complements, or offends. And sometimes, there’s absolutely nothing you can do, but smile and ask, “are you local?”.
Need to review your brand? Let’s have a cuppa and chat about it.
This morning, while walking the Fresh Brew Hound along an old unadopted dirt track that the King once travelled from London to Cornwall by carriage, the unmistakable scent of wild garlic hit me like a pair of dirty socks that you’ve somehow managed to forget about, but instantly know it’s there.
For the past month, I’ve had the pleasure to talk to a number of small business owners and learn to understand their core restraints holding them back from developing their business into something bigger, louder, grander. (Note: I did not say “better”). From most of them came 1 consistent restraint that, if they had the means, they would invest in: more marketing.
I understand, we want to be known, and we want more business. But there is only so much we can do with the money we have available to us. So what do we do if we simply don’t have the cash to do what we need to.
We use what we’ve got.
Back to the wild garlic metaphor. Since moving to this Green and Pleasant land 6 years ago, I’d always threatened to forage for my own wild garlic, and produce my own batch of the most beautiful wild garlic pesto that my Kenwood mixer would allow. (Other brands are available, BBC).
So, as the breeze gently whispered this morning, I knew that today was the day. Off I headed with Pup, lead, poo bags, and an extra supermarket-special carrier bag. Wild garlic grows abundantly in Dorset – and the rest of Europe. Also known as “Bear’s Garlic”, this particular ‘weed’ as Mr Fresh Brew calls it, is loved by wild boar and other animals that furiously dig up the bulbs. (Scene straight out of Asterix & Obelix).
Anyway – back to the garlic. It didn’t take long before I was armed with a bag full of deliciously stinking garlic leaves.
The pesto turned out beautifully – after adding some lemon juice, glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts – perfectly delivering 2 and a half jars full of wonderfully fresh garlic pesto.
And as I sat at the kitchen counter, chewing on my morning toast and wild garlic pesto – I realised. Sometimes, you don’t have to have what the Jones’ have. Sometimes you don’t need the massive budget because someone tells you that you do – sometimes, all you need to do is look at what you’ve got and find a way to make THAT work for you.
Need a little help to look at what you’ve got, and how to use it? Then give me a call. As long as you put the kettle on, of course.