Positive affirmation with your lunch?

By Mark Skoultchi

August 19, 2008

This is the way the founders of Café Gratitude (a SF Bay area restaurant which offers raw, vegan, organic fare) might hope your interaction with the server goes:
Server: How are you feeling today?
You: I am Sensational and Beautiful!

What could happen:
Server: We’re all out of Sensational, could I offer you Dazzling instead? Perhaps some Heroic on the side?
You: Well, how about I am Eternally Blessed.

Here in the world of brand naming we are constantly looking for names that evoke a certain feeling and that are fun to say. Café Gratitude has taken this ideal to the extreme form – where ordering lunch becomes an exercise in self-affirmations. What’s more, mantras for personal manifestation are offered by the wait staff. An excerpt from their menu includes:
I am insightful (spring rolls $10)
I am elated (enchilada special $15)
I am bright-eyed (pecan porridge $8.50)

It can be a struggle to keep a straight face when ordering. The idea is that ordering something like, ”I am lusciously awake” will manifest itself as a more awake state of mind simply through your verbalization and consumption of food product. Yet this sort of strategic brand naming is not unheard of – or even uncommon. We buy a lot of things based on the appeal of their associations, and for the promise of how they might change us. I know I’m hoping to be little more like J.Lo when I buy her fashion and who’s to say there’s not the promise of greater sex appeal when you pick up a copy of Allure?

There is a lot of messaging going on in Café Gratitude, but what the restaurant doesn’t exude is its skillful product and food branding. The pivotal gimmick, although shrouded in New Age-speak, comes down to the marketing and a well-executed naming architecture – “I am insightful” indeed.

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