My wife and I were celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary in Florence, Italy.

We were having dinner at a wonderful restaurant with our curly headed six-year-old Danny and two Roman dentists whom the restaurant’s owner had sat with us at the big rustic table.

The dentists didn’t speak any English and we didn’t speak any Italian. But between hand gestures, scribbled doodles, and my wife’s beautiful Spanish, we were able to find ways we could communicate. And because the food was served in big, steaming, family-style bowls, we let the dentists order for us in their native tongue.

By the end of dinner, our six-year-old was fast asleep on his mother’s lap. Our new dentist friends suggested we end our dinner with the traditional dessert of biscotti and Vin Santo. Of course, we said “sì.” We dipped the crunchy cookies into the sweet wine and toasted each other in all the different languages we knew.

The wine was delicious.

It was a magical dinner and one we won’t forget.

More Feelings. Less Function (1)

A few years later, Gloria and I were getting ready to celebrate our 10th anniversary. A good friend who had heard the story about our wonderful dinner in Florence surprised us with two bottles of Vin Santo – same as the wine we’d enjoyed in Italy. What’s more, she found Vin Santo that had been bottled the year we were married. What a thoughtful gift!

We prepared a great dinner, lit the candles, and uncorked the wine. After dinner we poured two glasses, clinked them in celebration, and sipped.

The dinner was beautiful. My wife was beautiful. The wine was… dreadful.

We swallowed our mouthfuls and stared at each other – neither one of us wanted to ruin the moment by being first to grimace. But finally the tension was more than we could handle, and we burst out laughing.

How could the Vin Santo be so awful when it was the same wine we’d had on that magical night in Florence? They say “Love, like wine, gets better with age.” In our case it was true about our marriage but not about the wine.

Of course, you already know why. That night in Italy everything conspired to make the wine so delicious – the evening, the moonlight, the restaurant, the food, our sleeping son, our new friends, our anniversary. We were so drunk on the experience that the wine almost couldn’t be anything but wonderful.

What does this have to do with your building your brand?


While you might think that your customers come to you for the pure, functional experience they have with you and your brand, it’s every little touchpoint and experience that ultimately determines their experience.

Of course, your product has to fulfill its function. If it doesn’t, no one will buy it. But just because it does what you say it will do doesn’t mean anyone will buy it either. These days your customers can find products that fulfill their basic functions everywhere they look.

Instead, today’s customer needs a product that not only makes them feel good but makes them feel good about themselves. If you can show them how your product will not only fulfill their needs but will also help them tell themselves and the world who they are, they’ll be back for more.

Have Gloria and I ever been back to that great restaurant in Florence?

Yup – every chance we get.

Have we ever bought another bottle of Vin Santo with the same vintage as our wedding year?

Not so much.

Which experience would you prefer for your brand?


  1. May 16, 2019

    Bruce, three thoughts. First, I confess I had to look up the word “semplice”. I am now more educated. Thanks. Second, this was a particularly important reminder that brand experiences are built on all sorts of tiny moments and things. Third, this was a particularly TIMELY post by you…for me…because I am creating and launching later this year a new product/service. It will have a cool factor and high functionality. But the brand experience with all of the touchpoint will require just as much focus in development as the product/service itself. Thank you for this article.

  2. Chris Barr
    May 16, 2019

    I tracked you down! When I left Granite Transformations, they shut down my access to the only email address I’ve used for the last fifteen years, so I stopped getting my regular fix of your blog. I’ve read the posts here and am re-signing to be a regular.

    I want to email you a copy of my current resume/letter, looking for one more fascinating thing to do with my (professional) life, in case it strikes a note of interest in one of your acquaintances. Open to relocation. What email address should I use?

    Hope you and the family are well and happy!

    • Bruce Turkel
      May 19, 2019

      Hey Chris!! Great to hear from you. Thanks for reaching out. I now have your email address so I’ll contact you there — no reason to fill the blog with our personal back and forth.

      All my best until we chat.

  3. May 17, 2019

    Beautiful – great work! Nice to see you again – will contact soon. JoAnna

  4. David J. Hawes
    May 17, 2019


    Great story and an even better lesson.

    Thanks for both!



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