Top Brandful Organizations in 2013

Welcome to my final blog post for 2013. The following companies make the list of of top brandful organizations this year: Trader Joe’s, Netflix, Zappos, Starbucks, IBM, L’Occitane, Patagonia, Nick’s Pizza & Pub, Viking Cruises, Ikea, The Container Store, Wegmans, Rackspace, and Tesla. What sets these companies apart from others? It’s quite simple: the employees genuinely believe in the products and services they help deliver… so much so that they actually help promote them, voluntarily. Employees at these organizations are critical to current and future success of the business.

While many experts are now posting their recommendations for 2014, I believe one of the most strategic actions any company can make in the new year will be to connect employees meaningfully and authentically with the brand. For example, at Trader Joe’s, some of the employees spend most of their paychecks on purchasing groceries in the store. And most employees there can tell you their favorite products, if you ask.  Or employees at Rackspace may spend more time than necessary online interacting with each other and customers about optimizing the services they provide because they are just that passionate about them.  Brandful employees help to evolve the success of the business.

The organizations mentioned above do not necessarily depend on employee engagement programs or internal marketing campaigns or even employer branding initiatives, to create a brandful workforce. They rely primarily on the strength of their products and services and how they run their business from a people perspective. These are the principles of the brandful approach.

In 2014, more organizations will understand the potential of the workforce. And it will be great timing as we will embark on a project to design a measurement tool so organizations can understand the level at which their employees are truly behind the products and services they deliver every day. Once they receive their results, they can take necessary action to move the needle on building a more brandful workforce. Please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the last few days of the year!

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Being Brandful Is Telling The Truth

It’s one thing to lie to your employees so they can be truthful with the customers, without knowing they’re lying. And it’s another thing to actually instruct employees to lie to the customers. But why have any lying at all?

This week, I was early for a meeting so I decided to check out the hand cream at L’Occitane, a global retailer of beauty products, at their Fifth Avenue flagship location in Manhattan. I was greeted by a warm smile and “Would you like to try a fresh cup of rose tea?” Still being a bit chilly at the end of March, I accepted the offer. Mineli was the store associate who poured my cup of tea and asked what I was looking for. As I tried various fragrances, I noticed right away that she was definitely a role model for being brandful. She knew the products inside and out. She was passionate about them and used them herself. And she raved on and on about the French CEO and how she knew him personally. She also told me – without my asking- about the corporate social responsibility programs and how the company supports women.

But what caught my attention most was when she told me about her previous employers -who shall remain nameless. (For those of you who don’t know me, I have a golden rule: If you don’t have something nice to say – say it, but without damage – only a lesson.) Mineli told me that she had worked at three other beauty retailers, and consistently left when she was lied to or worse – she was asked to lie to customers – about what was actually in the products. For Mineli, who takes her work quite seriously and passionately, like any other brandful employee, would rather not work at all, than to compromise her own value system. She was head-over-heels to be at l’Occitane for over a year now – at a company she truly knows, understands, believes in and can promote.

I do believe that organizations that allow integrity to be compromised, will be exposed if not by the customers, by the employees. They will erode from the inside out, as shown through Mineli.

If you know a brandful employee, I’d love to hear about him or her. Please email me at juliagometz@gmail.com and thanks for reading my blog!