Getting Creative With Dan Nash

Getting Creative With Dan Nash

Posted by Michael on 1st Aug 2022

Dan Nash is the founder of SixEight, a creative agency that helps turn food brands into cult brands through the power of storytelling.

In our latest podcast, Dan cuts through all the marketing jargon to put independents on the same path to success.

Dan is a self-confessed Asian food obsessive who not only loves eating food, but talking about it too. In fact, he lists communication as his superpower!

By channelling this talent, Dan’s aim is to get brands more sales in the short term and more love over the long term. How he hits this brief is all about brand perception.

The best definition of brand perception is one Dan heard brand guru and author Marty Neumeier give. “He describes a brand as people’s gut feeling and perception of you and that is based on every touch point they have with you which is why it’s so important to be consistent.”

Adding weight to this is a Google stat that Dan recites, claiming it takes eight interactions before someone wants to buy from you. 

“So it’s not just your Instagram and your newsletter and your food, but it’s the interiors and how your team talk to the customers and how the menu is written and if you book on Res, the automatic e-mail you get, all those bits add up to any point someone says this is how I feel about these guys.”

It’s being obsessive about these little details that Dan believes has enabled the likes of Dishoom and Flat Iron to hit the ground running. That and taking an honest, personal and unique approach to their communications, something he strongly believes independents should be capitalising on too.

“Even the big guys started off as small ones,” he says.

“People go to independents…because you are not a fast food chain and because you are an independent and because they want to support it, so don’t make it hard for them to make the choice. They want to know those things so don’t hide it.”

Much of the work Dan does focuses on conveying a brand’s personality – the things that make them unique – and this comes down to crafting your own story and communicating that effectively to your customers.

“Whether you believe it or not, you have a unique story…the brands that grow the fastest are the ones that share that story because no one can copy your story and the love you get from that community. And once you have the love and people know you are one of the good guys, that can open up all these revenue streams as well.”

For someone to be a loyal customer Dan says it takes three visits, so his approach is to go all out, adding: “If that was me, I would want to be hitting them with the emotional kitchen sink because again you‘ll always have an emotional connection to food…but the connection you have to a human is 10 excess so when you put a great product next to this great story, that emotional connection – another stat is you are four times more likely to buy from someone you are emotionally connected to so why make it harder for yourself?”

Dan appreciates putting a story out there in such an open and public way can be daunting but says feeling uncomfortable and taking risks is part and parcel of the job.

“I talk to all these restaurant owners who are just terrified of telling this honest story and being themselves, they just think they have to copy what everyone else does, even though everybody else’s comms are pretty dull and not getting huge results. I get it, it’s a human thing of putting yourself out there or taking a risk…worrying that everyone is going to unfollow you. But the irony is everyone will love you more.”

While social media is the go-to place to promote a brand, Dan reminds businesses to utilise their own websites and mailing lists so as not to become a slave to algorithms which dictate who and how many people see your message.

“An e-mail list is so under-rated, I’m a massive fan because you control that. I can’t remember the stats but it’s something like you’re 10 or 20 times more likely to sell off the back of it so I think everyone should be obsessed with their e-mail list. Instagram, if it’s still around, will be radically different five years in the future, TikTok the same so you should a) have something you can control and also it’s a thing social media is very important but don’t be obsessed with it, it’s just one channel.”

Reminding operators of the ever-changing hierarchy of social media, Dan is also quick to point out there are other ways to reach your customers quickly and it’s worth investing your time and effort to explore them.

“Right now TikTok is a much easier way to get in front of people but it’s not going to last forever.

“Anytime there’s a new channel, it’s trying to free up your time so you can get involved.”

How you communicate your brand and its values to your customers is crucial to your success, with Dan adding. “If you just talk about your product, team and interiors in a very dry way like everyone else does then you’re not going to move the needle, that’s on one end of the extreme. On the other is this very outspoken uncomfortable, crazy whatever comes into my head approach, which works for some people but it has to be what you’re comfortable.

“The more you stand for what you believe in, the more you’re going to attract the right people. And the ones you’re going to repel aren’t your people anyway. So you’re going to get more love. Hospitality people find that very uncomfortable, that concept that I’m going to have to turn people away but that’s human nature, why fight it?”

Talking to and getting to know your customers are also key building blocks in gaining trust and, ultimately, followers. And Dan has a really simple hack to short circuit the process.

“Go onto Instagram, look at all your most passionate followers, look at what they are doing, go to your competitor, look at their most passionate followers, the ones commenting the most and just look through their feed, see what they are into and talking about. What you will realise is, hey they are people just like me and they are into all this other stuff.”

Summing up a successful communications process, Dan says it all comes down to sharing – sharing your journey, the vision you want, your beliefs and your expertise.

He adds: “The food that you serve is going to be unique because of all that stuff that goes behind it and the more people know that, the more value they will put behind it and the more they know it’s uniquely you, and that will affect the taste, it’s how human brains work.”