Really, it's a great dish. Tomatoes, seafood, flavorful rice.  What's not to love? Okay, maybe the ridiculous cost of saffron (it takes something like a million flower blossoms to make one saffron thread), but other than that, it's fantastic. I finally learned how to cook paella with my friend Rakhi in a Culinaerie cooking class last weekend. It was a Catalan cuisine class with dishes from that famed region of Spain. And famed it is.Spain in general is really well known for its food. And as the chef instructor talked about why and why in particular she prefers Catalan paella, she told us the story of how she drove five hours from Barcelona to Valencia to try the Valencian paella and then turned around and immediately drove five hours north it struck me that people go out of their way to verify the reputation of a brand. Catalan PaellaThink about the last restaurant where you tried for ages to get a reservation.  Either you read a stellar review, or read a friend's tweet about their fantastic meal.  When you finally get a table, you're expecting greatness. And the restaurant either solidifies or breaks its brand.

It's like a recommendation, or a referral--hallmarks of brand growth for both people and products.  Social media has dramatically changed the way we share what we like--and what we don't.  So when the chef waxed poetic about the Catalan paella, I was expecting greatness as we cooked. And greatness was delivered.

No one knows exactly why the Catalan region of Spain has such a great reputation for cuisine. It might be that it's really close to France (where cheese and wine reign supreme), or have to do with the region's weather and ability to cultivate certain crops.  But it has a reputation for amazing food. Just ask any chef.

This is where brands get tricky. The greater the reputation, the more auspicious the brand, the bigger fall you take.  After all the cooking class hype, if the paella was, at its best, decent, it would have failed the test. That's because I was expecting greatness. 

So consider paella. And consider how "great" you want your brand to be. Delivering greatness is one thing, but the expectations it creates is another. Just be sure you're ready to live up to the hype.

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