Your Brand and the Amazing 1975 Lunchroom Cinnamon Roll

Your Brand and the Amazing 1975 Lunchroom Cinnamon Roll

(photo by Timothy Vollmer, 2008)
A fifteen-cent dessert was all it took to create a lasting memory. What if a small bonus experience is the key to locking your brand into your audience’s memory? (photo by Timothy Vollmer, 2008)


What does your brand have in common with a lunchroom cinnamon roll?

I have vivid memories of first grade, some of which center around the bewildering world of the school cafeteria. At Green Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, I would stroll into what I recall as an aircraft-hangar-sized lunchroom with the rest of Mrs. Bass’s and Mrs. Thompson’s classes, go down the line with my tray, and happily present my card-stock lunch ticket at the end. The cashier would smile and click her hole-punch on the day of the week, and I’d sit down with another plate of delicious industrial nourishment. The lunches weren’t really as bad as the cultural references always joked, but that didn’t mean they were great. Except that sometimes… they were.

There were certain days, in fact, where the lunch experience was transformed into something completely unforgettable.

You see, as you finished the normal serving process and approached the cashier, you passed a small area with colored plates. These were the additional desserts, usually small pieces of cake or other pastries. But the most important one of all was the lunchroom cinnamon roll. And on some days, Mom would give me a nickel and a dime to go along with my lunch ticket. Fifteen cents was the price of one of those lunchroom cinnamon rolls, which was my admission to the glorious land of the elementary school sugar high.

Buying a fifteen-cent cinnamon roll was probably my first solo experience as a consumer. Those little transactions made me feel like a grown-up, making a purchasing decision and completing an independent transaction as an individual with a vision for his future and the cash to make it happen. And of course, they had to be delicious because they tasted like sugar, cinnamon, and power. Amazing.

As I thought about the experience, I identified a few factors that I think played into the impact of experiences like my amazing 1975 lunchroom cinnamon roll.  You can apply these ideas to the way you take your own products and services into the marketplace.

• The excitement and impact of getting something extra
Big or small, there is something irresistible about a bonus. Whether it’s a freebie or an opportunity to make an impulse buy, even a tiny extra feels special. What can you add to the experience of working with you that feels like an extra? It doesn’t have to be big, flashy, or expensive, as long as it’s awesome.

• Perceived status
There is an undeniable sweetness to knowing your peers envy you. It’s human nature to savor the moments when we get to be the leader in line, or king of the hill, or the cool kid. When your clients interact or do business with you, does the experience leave them with something to brag about?

• Transformed memory of an assembly line experience
Four decades later, I still remember the price, the presentation, and the general experience of buying a cinnamon roll in my lunchroom. I remember where they were in the line. I remember the kinds of plates they were served on. I can even vaguely remember the cashier’s face. Meanwhile, I cannot tell you for certain any other item I ever ate in that lunchroom. I have no specific memory of any other part of the experience.

A year from now, what will the client remember about their experience with your brand? What if a special extra is the key to creating a lasting memory of your brand?



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