How do you wear your brand? Mine’s on a T-shirt

Just spent a mini-vacation in Victoria, BC where the Schlyecher family participated in some unashamed tourist behavior. Horse-drawn carriage ride, G&T’s at the Empress (no $55 high tea x 5 thanks) Munro’s Books, Roger’s Chocolates, Craigdarroche Castle and a stay at the stately Joan Brown’s B&B. We have a favourite spot in that Island haven of tourists, politicians, bureaucrats and panhandlers. Pagliacci’s.

This crowed Italian meets Hollywood chintz eatery is a collection of old movie posters, creaky crowded tables, locals and tourists and really great food. Got there early to grab a table while the girls shopped. They poured me a coffee cup full of red wine and I took a seat on a curb outside to wait our turn. Before long I was at the table. Here’s where the shirt comes in. When we first opened our little agency, I had been through a few years of career plane crashes. Spring was a new beginning. A place to make client’s dreams come true. A place to make some of our own dreams come true. One of those dreams? This is one I’ve had since I was a little kid: A 1970 Mustang Mach 1 in my garage (that’s a car). So that Mustang made it on to our first corporate T shirt. The corporate T shirt is, I suppose, a vanity piece among our industry. It occurred to us a few years ago that most clients are less enthusiastic about getting one than we might think, particularly when you get the size wrong. But we all wear them with pride. I’d all but forgotten that I was wearing that Mustang edition when I sat down in Pagliacci’s. But Chris, one of the really sincere and friendly floor staff came over and told me how cool he thought it was. At this beyond-balding point in my life, being referred to as anything cool is well, cool.

Here’s what happened…

CHRIS: Where did you get that shirt, it’s about the coolest shirt I ever saw.

ME: What? This? Really? Thanks. It’s my company shirt.

CHRIS: Company shirt? What? No way. It. Is. So. Cool.

ME: (I get excited to hear “cool” for the second time) Want it?

CHRIS: What? I’d love it but no way. Too much.

ME: Find me a shirt to wear home. It’s yours.

(more backs and forths, explanation of the fact that I have a box of them somewhere and it’s agreed)

CHRIS: Awesome.

ME: Awesome.

What follows is a night of extra wine, extra dessert, lots of laughs with the staff and the happy kids walking a well-stuffed and fairly-well-wined Mom and Dad out of one of the best meals ever. I wore a cook’s shirt home.

What’s the point? There is emotion, dreams and even love wrapped up in a company. It needs a place to be expressed. When it gets one, sometimes magic happens. What’s yours? How would you express it? By now this might sound over-used and even self serving but it is the truth – Do it right and it has power.

The second point is, give it away. It comes back. Sometimes instantly.

Third. We need to print more T shirts.

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