Kristian's father and Kristian from the 1980s.

My father taught me – both in the classroom as a Spanish literature teacher – and outside of it. As a father, teacher. boss, and peer, these are a few of the lessons he shared with me that are just as applicable to brands as they are to life.

Father’s Tip #1: Tell a heroic story.

Between my parents, my father is the performer. He was in theatre, has written plays, and led the Spanish Drama Club when he taught at my high school. Not only that, he’s the family storyteller. He regaled us as children with fantastic stories of adventure, danger and morality. In each of them, my brothers and I were often the characters and heroes of the story. Today, he continues to engage his grandchildren in the same way.

My father’s stories were always so entertaining because his audience became the hero in them. Building a business is the same way. Too many brands run campaigns that are all about them. Instead, they would find a lot more engagement if they could draw the audience into the story by making them the hero – or giving them a way to connect with the hero. Then it’s not just a story, it’s their story.

Father’s Tip #2: Never forget dessert.

My father doesn’t just love making and eating food, he loves serving food to family, friends and strangers. Growing up in a house with a baker meant there was always dessert – and there was always a lot of dessert. Most Sunday meals ended with cookies, cake, cheesecake and flan. And we always had it immediately after the meal.

Though my father didn’t know it at the time, his approach to food is consistent with an idea in behavioral economics called Peak-end Theory. People don’t remember every detail of an experience. They remember the highs, lows and the ending. Many brands would benefit from prioritizing the end of their interactions with customers. Is it a sweet one or is it an automated email with warranty information? By thinking about your brand’s dessert, you might find your customers are more forgiving when they experience something unpleasant. As kids, getting through your vegetables is a bit easier if you know there’s a tres leches at the end of it (though my father never cared much for vegetables).

Father’s Tip #3: Passion precedes pleasure.

My father used to tell me that whatever I did with my life, if I did it with passion, I would always be happy. He is the embodiment of this idea. He leans in – all the way in – to ideas. If he wants to change something in his life, it happens the next day. Even vegetarianism, which is surprising if you noted my parenthetical in the last paragraph.

Passion is also important for brands but it rarely makes its way to the customer. You’ll find passionate executives, passionate employees and passionate marketers, but the relationship with the customers tend to be formal, stilted and flat. Infusing passion into your brand may feel like you risk coming off as inauthentic, cheesy or weird. Embrace it anyway. Passion can be all of those things but people connect and reflect that energy. The most loyal consumers aren’t just satisfied with the brands they use, they are passionate about them.

Gracias, Padre.

Though my father was attempting to raise a curious, creative child, he also raised a pretty decent brand strategist. For that, and so much more, gracias, Padre, y te quiero mucho. ¡Feliz Día del Padre!

Do you have a story to share about your father and the lessons you learned that you still use today? Let me know in the comments or send me a note.

And if you want to chat about how to build a brand even your father would be proud of, let’s chat. But call your father first, he wants to hear from you.

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