Which brands can marketers look to as mentors as they strive to align vision, values, and behaviors of their own organization with their brand promise to consumers? After our recent post on inside-out branding, I got to thinking about those that have excelled at building their brand around their company culture and values to deliver truly authentic experiences. Here are three of my favorites:
Zappos (now part of Amazon) decided early on to define itself as a customer service organization rather than a shoe retailer, as reflected in their tagline, “Powered by Service.” With customer service as its internal rallying cry, Zappos intentionally built a culture that values and rewards the delivery of exceptional customer service above all else. This includes:
- Clearly defined core values that permeate the company and guide hiring and firing decisions.
- A mandate that every employee spends his/her first few weeks manning the phones to better understand customers and learn how to respond to their needs.
- Performance evaluations that assess and provide feedback on fit with the culture.
- Call center employees who are empowered to do what it takes to make their customers happy without requiring a manager’s permission.
Southwest Airlines has certainly experienced some growing pains as it has moved from a low-cost domestic carrier with limited routes to a well-established domestic and international airline in the now highly competitive low-cost carrier market. The company did a major brand refresh in 2014, differentiating itself from competitors with the promise that Southwest actually cares—or “has a heart for”—its customers. Beyond overhauling the look of its plane design, signage, and other consumer facing collateral, the company has strived to create an experience that truly brings to life this promise through its employees. This includes:
- Hiring individuals who demonstrate empathy and a fun-loving spirit.
- Clearly defining the company’s purpose and vision for employees.
- Empowering them to deliver it, whether that means going the extra mile to do what’s right for a customer, or throwing out traditional airline scripts so that employees can show their personality to make customers feel both welcomed and entertained.
- Developing and promoting policies that show they are “walking the talk,” like no fee baggage check or the ability to change flights without additional fees.
Wegmans is number 3 on the list of companies that consumers feel most respected by according to a 2016 study by C Space. This northeastern grocery chain has made a simple commitment to its customers: Every day you get our best. Actually delivering on this promise is no easy task, but it’s one that Wegmans has consistently excelled at through all aspects of its business model and culture, including:
- Stocking a wide selection of unique products and some of the freshest produce in the industry.
- Providing an engaging in-store experience that combines the thrill of product discovery and sampling with stellar customer service, thanks to a long history of rewarding its workers (the company regularly ranks within the top ten best places to work in the U.S.).
- Not losing focus on low prices, thanks to operational efficiencies and minimal food waste.
Learn more about inside-out branding and why it matters: