February 02, 2018 / UNLEASH THE POWER OF JOY
February 02, 2018
A lot of people talk about creating a brand experience. Miraya and Liang, co-founders of Dessert Goals, actually do it.
We recently read about Dessert Goals in FORBES and were instantly drawn to their brand story and uncommon approach. Dessert Goals is on a mission to bring festival-inspired dessert experiences to the world. They’ve designed a multi-sensory strategy and a memorable product experience. And their mindful growth strategy is one that all brands can learn from.
We had the opportunity to talk to the co-founders to learn more about their strategy to apply design thinking to a constantly changing product and create an immersive brand experience.
Tell us about Desserts Goals, where did the idea come from?
Miraya: Liang and I were friends first and love desserts. Last summer over shaved snow we got to talking and realized there wasn’t yet a dessert festival, so decided we should start one. With my background in events and Liang’s in design we felt like it was the perfect match.
Liang: There are festivals for everything these days, and surprisingly, there wasn’t one for dessert. We knew we would totally want to attend an event like this, and probably our friends would too, and since it didn’t exist, we thought we should make it happen.
You are traveling the world eating desserts. Do you feel like you’re living in a dream?
Miraya: It definitely feels like the dream job! We have a “dessert research” fund in our accounting so it actually is “work” and we can expense it when we are tasting desserts. Doesn’t get much sweeter than this!
Liang: I literally cannot believe my job is to eat desserts. I think my inner child could not be happier.
An important element of brand is based on creating an experience, is there one uncommon principle you follow?
Liang: I am obsessed with designing for all five sense. We take every aspect of the experience into consideration, not only what you see and taste, but even the music we curate is meant to give you vibes of nostalgia and fun. We also strategically place vendors around the room based on scent. There are a lot of things we take into consideration beyond just putting together a bunch of desserts in a room with a bunch of people.
You create an immersive experience, can you tell us more about the multi-sensory strategy involved with designing your desert experiences?
Miraya: I’ve been planning elaborate birthday parties and events since I was a kid and have said I wanted to be an event planner since I was 10 years old, so I’ve always been very aware of experiences and what elements will really be memorable. Liang and I map out the attendee experience from entry to exit and try to think of ways to surprise and delight at every step, from water while you’re waiting in line, to dessert smells as you enter, photo opps, salty snacks as a palate cleanse and a sugary sweet soundtrack. We also try to think of things we’d want to do with our friends and create an event around that strategy.
Your designed experiences involved an element of discovery, can you tell us more about this?
Liang: There are three key emotions we aim to provoke at Dessert Goals: nostalgia, discovery, and fun. We want you to be able to find your classic, favorite desserts. We also want people to discover things they’ve never tried. We curate desserts from many different cultures to create a wide variety (Taiwanese pineapple tarts, Portuguese egg tarts, Hawaiian haupia pies, and Japanese red bean fish cones have all been past hits). In fact, we curate our vendors so that there’s no category overlap at all. If one vendor is making cupcakes, no one else can, for example. It’s fun, but also a challenge to hunt down so many different kinds of dessert!
You’re really great at crafting visual stories, tell us about your strategy?
Liang: I spend a lot of time thinking through and shooting content for our Instagram. It’s important because it’s the first contact a lot of our guests have with our brand, and I try to make it a preview of what to expect at the festival itself. Bright colors, LOTS of desserts, and shooting it in a visually interesting and creative way is the vision. We want to stand out from how others typically shoot food and desserts.
There’s a hefty level of design-thinking in your brand presence, what is your process?
Liang: Going back to how I want people to feel when they see the brand, the big driving factor is fun. Every design decision is based around conveying fun. Lots of bright colors, shapes and playful typography are tools I use to create a sense of fun.
What are some noteworthy brands and people you’ve worked with? Or perhaps would dream to work with?
Liang: Dylan’s Candy Bar was a childhood dream come true! Who didn’t walk into Dylan’s and wish they could walk out with all the candy they could hold? Our guests love that they can get free candy from Dylan’s – it’s one of the biggest lines at the event. We were also really honored to work with Macy’s. It’s such a huge brand that I grew up with, and it was so much fun doing an event at their store.
In a recent FORBES article you mentioned that your growth strategy is to grow mindfully.
Miraya: Both Liang and I have other projects we work on in addition to Dessert Goals and we also really value having free time and travel. I think we hear about so many of these overnight success stories with businesses where founders sacrifice their lives to make it happen. Right now Liang and I are both in agreement of finding the right balance of growth where we’re still able to have a life and to work on other things. We’re definitely open and excited about new possibilities but right now as just the two of us we’re trying to be kind to ourselves and mindful in the way we grow.
Liang: We are also mindful about how we grow and how that can impact the experience for our guests. Our events sell out in minutes, and it would be easy to find a bigger venue and pack in 10,000 guests and sell them all tickets. But we wanted to create an event that felt intimate and not overwhelming. We’re picky about who we partner with, and we want to make sure that as we grow, we don’t change the vibe of our event.
Social media plays a huge part in your brands’ growth strategy, can you tell us more about how you use it to connect? Do you use a company to manage your social media? Have you partnered with any influencers or brands that have been successful or exciting? Or perhaps not?
Liang: I currently shoot all of our photos in house and manage our social media accounts. It’s a lot of work, but I feel it’s necessary to maintain the kind of style and quality we want! We love working with brands and influencers who have fun, colorful, and playful vibes. We did a shoot with Viva la Juicy’s new fragrance, Sucré, which had a cupcake shaped bottle. That was so much fun to style and shoot, and fit perfectly with our aesthetic! We’ve also said no to a lot of partnerships that we didn’t feel were aligned with our brand, and are selective of who we work with to maintain our brand.
What are three uncommon sense principles you live by:
Liang: 1) If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. 2) Everything should be fun. 3) Always focus on the smallest thing you can do next.
How can others become involved? Events they can attend? Workshops?
Miraya: We’re in planning mode for our 2018 calendar with events in New York and Los Angeles, so if you’re in those cities keep an eye out for announcements. You should sign up for our newsletter at dessertgoals.com to get updated on new events and everyone should follow us on Instagram @omgdessertgoals for the sweetest pictures.
All-time favorite dessert?
Miraya: It’s so hard to pick just one, but a classic chocolate chip cookie is a go to for me. Warm and gooey and just a bit crispy on the outside, nothing can compare.
Liang: Fresh strawberry shortcake, namely the one from Chikalicious in NYC.
Want to experience Dessert Goals? Sign up for their sweet newsletter or follow them on Instagram @omgdessertgoals
Read more about how Dessert Goals creates a multi-sensory brand experience.
Read more by Bulldog Drummond.
Photo: Dessert Goals