By Lindsay Pedersen
Too many companies think brand-building belongs to the marketing department. But actually, it’s everyone’s business. Anyone whose work touches customers should know and feel your brand. This is a bottom-up, side-to-side, top-down, all-encompassing notion. The more everyone is using your brand as the North Star, the more faithfully your brand will grow your business with ease, purpose, and scale.
Here are four brands that live their brand promise from boardroom to breakroom:
Zappos. Strong brands use rituals to systematically instill their brand promise. Take online footwear retailer Zappos, for example. After four weeks of paid training, each new hire is given this offer: “If you quit today, we will give you a $1,000 bonus.” Only those committed to the spirit of Zappos customer service choose to stay, thereby enhancing Zappos’s best-in-class customer service, such as representatives buying plane tickets to personally deliver items to customers during harried time crunches or in far-flung geographic restrictions.
Starbucks. Starbucks also uses ritual to deliver on its brand promise. The company begins shareholder meetings with coffee tasting. Think of ways you can keep your product and your brand promise at the forefront of everything you do. In Starbucks’s case, it’s great coffee, uplifting third-place space, and human connection, and the coffee tastings exemplify that. In your case, what ritual might immerse employees in your brand?
Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s in recent years has had to decide whether to follow the approach of other grocery retailers and develop an online presence. That’s a hard decision, as expanding to online commerce would increase sales considerably. But with the Trader Joe’s brand as the filter, leadership has decided to say “no” to selling online. Trader Joe’s president, Jon Basalone, shared on the Trader Joe’s podcast, “For us, the store is our brand, and our products work best when they’re sold as part of this overall customer experience within the store. And so we’re not ready to give that up. For us, the brand is too important, and the store is our brand.”
Molly Moon’s Ice Cream. Molly Moon’s brand promise is “simple happiness from homemade ice cream.” The brand character is wholesome, light-hearted, and upbeat. To deliver on a brand promise of “happiness,” the ingredients must be of superb quality, the freezers must run at a consistent temperature to prevent ice crystals, and the ice cream servers need to have smiles on their faces. Molly Moon’s even infuses their hiring with brand language. A job posting in a shop window announced, in Molly Moon’s color and font (not in black-and-white or in generic font): “Now hiring optimists.” Not “Now hiring ice cream aficionados.” Not “Now hiring, great benefits.” By recruiting optimists, Molly Moon’s heightens their ability to deliver on the promise of ice cream happiness. They become excellent at recruiting in order to operationalize brand.
Never quit trying to improve on living your brand. When you live your brand promise, something magical happens. Customers seek you. They become loyal. They spread the word and attract new customers. Everyone wins. Your profits soar, and customers love you for making good on your word.
Lindsay Pedersen, author of Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide, is a brand strategist. She developed the Ironclad Method for value-creating brands while working with businesses like Starbucks, Clorox, Zulily, T-Mobile, and IMDb, as well as start-ups.