Shorter, with less soapbox

I’m feeling a little like I’ve been preaching at you in the past few weeks, probably an inevitable result of tackling a few big multi-part-ers. Today, I’m going to shift gears and share a few articles and resources that I think you need to know about.

First, my diversity rant.

This week, I spent a good half-hour in Adobe Stock  looking through 69 pages of “sommelier” search results, and you know what I found? VERY FEW WOMEN AND NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON OF COLOR. This chaps my hide. My challenge to each and every one of you this week is to look at your digital presence with fresh eyes: could your brand better represent the diversity of your customers? Here are some photo resources to help you make a change:

  • “Beautiful, high-res photos of black and brown people. For free.”
  • Colorstock “Colorstock is a culturally intelligent stock photo marketplace of connecting emerging photographers to brands, marketers, and content creators.” updated 2019, no longer live.
  • Blend. “Blend Images is the world’s leading multicultural commercial stock agency.” also no longer live.
  • CreateHER Stock. “Curated for female bloggers, creatives, and online influencers of color.”
  • TONL.  “Find culturally diverse stock photos that represent the true world we live in. Creating an inclusive culture takes both commitment and action. A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions for everyone.

While we’re talking diversity and imagery, check out this SUPER AWESOME RESOURCE. Every winery I know is scrambling to get good drone footage. This is a great place to start.


“Analog Technology”. This is my new favorite term, coined by a fellow named Jed Wexler. My explanation of this is that it breaks the barriers between digital and analog, acknowledges that we are always first and foremost people behind the interactions, and that people desire rich lives that seamlessly merge the best that human experiences AND technology can bring together. (If you live in a house with teenagers, you’ll see this every day!) We in the wine industry have a unique advantage to embrace this, but we’ve got to get over the hill of resistance. Analog and Technology are not a zero-sum game; you don’t need to eschew the former to optimize the latter. How can your cellar door or winery business create delightful, unified customer experiences that span the gap between IRL + URL? (Hint: keep reading)

Now that you’re thinking about analog and digital customer experiences, I highly recommend this article by Doug Stevens. Here’s the crucial excerpt:

Truly remarkable customer experiences are deliberately engineered to be:

Engaging: They connect to all five senses: of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. They involve the customer in a visceral way. What we think about an experience may last hours. But memories of what we hear, feel, touch, see and taste may last a lifetime.

Unique. They incorporate methods, language or customs that are unusual, surprising or proprietary to the brand but are also authentic and natural. The incorporation of these unique elements lends the feeling that customers have not just entered a different store but a different world entirely.

Personalized. They make the customer feel that the experience was created just for them. This may be as simple as recalling details and preferences from an earlier visit or it may be as complex as creating a completely bespoke product or service design just for them. Either way, they feel special and valued.

Surprising. They incorporate elements or interactions that are completely unexpected. Packing even one small but delightful surprise into the experience leaves a lasting impression.

Repeatable. They are executed using prescriptive and tested methods to achieve a uniform level of consistency and excellence across the enterprise. They are so highly engineered and well practiced that they appear spontaneous while leaving almost nothing to chance. At the same time the experiential design affords staff just enough freedom to let their unique personalities shine through.
And from that same article comes the message I’m going to leave you with this week:

“Achieving this level of customer experience …requires significant organizational introspection, courage, honesty, design thinking and research. There is no off-the-shelf solution, no app and no magic to it – just the willingness to reinvent, reimagine and risk the occasional screw up.”

Doug Stevens

[Photo by @tolubamwo from]

Portrait of Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond is the Founder and CEO of 5forests, which means every buck stops with her. As the public face of 5forests, she splits her time between Barcelona, Auckland, and California, consulting, writing, and speaking about the trends that impact today’s lifestyle businesses.