Growing up my parents used to say to my sister and I, that their aim was to provide us with a “basket full of memories” to take with us into adult life. This translated into a very magical childhood, filled with treasure hunts and surprises. Our toys would miraculously disappear and reappear around the house with a half eaten chocolate biscuit in their paw, and we even received tiny letters from the “flower fairies” - hidden in the garden for us to seek and find with relished awe. Needless to say the Elsby household was one where imagination and creativity thrived and I’m sure this parenting philosophy is the reason I am so drawn to the whimsical and fantastical even now.
When I was dreaming up Chapel Lane as a business I thought about this approach to life. I considered the kind of work I loved being a part of, the sort of events I loved to attend and, as a consumer, the sort of brands that I admired. I kept coming back to the same core principles of enjoyment, colour, creativity, fantasy, style and delight. Hedonistic? quite possibly, but engaging and entertaining – hell yeah. I knew I wanted to create experiences that were thoughtful, generous, unexpected, authentic and enjoyable.
Considering these principles in a commercial context can certainly beg the question – “how does this translate into a business?” This week I attended an interesting discussion as part of the Vivid Ideas Exchange at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Overlooking the gorgeous backdrop of the Sydney harbour, on a bright but chilly Monday afternoon, I was heartened to hear respected industry experts, known academics and specialists in the field, reassure me that my approach was a sound one. Ha! Shove that up your hypercritical pipe and smoke it nonbelievers! I smiled to myself as I listened to conversations about the power of emotional marketing and trust. My ears pricked up at the mention of the importance of narrative and storytelling in marketing, where the customer comes first and the product comes second.
The take-away sentiment from the two-hour discussion was, in a sort of Field of Dreams sense, “if you build it, he will come”. If you focus on creating a brand/service/product that is engaging, emotive and relevant rather than chasing profits, only then will success follow.
It always amuses me when in marketing we talk about the “customer” as this alien being, this otherworldly foreigner who takes hours of analysis and millions of dollars to truly understand. Am I missing a trick? Aren’t we all the customer? Create something that you love, and surely others will too. Well, that’s my aim at least and I have built a life based on emotion and imagination so why can’t I build a business on the same foundations.
Here’s to a delightful long weekend, whatever you are doing.