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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Patagonia’s Business Changed Because They Listened to Employees

This week, I came across a great story from Patagonia. Prior to using organic cotton in their clothing, Patagonia had opened a new store in which employees were suffering headaches. They listened and brought in an environmental engineer to investigate the problem. The engineer found that the air in the work environment had toxins due to the materials being used in making the clothing. From this, Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s CEO, took it upon himself to research what all goes into clothing and could there be another way?  From his journey, he is now not only a proponent of organic cotton and top quality, long-lasting clothing with growing sales, but a leader of a healthy workforce.

What can we learn from Yvon? He says that when he listens, he learns and evolves. He says that 10% of his customers buy Patagonia clothing simply because of the organization’s good practices. Could he also be attracting employees for the same reasons and is this number expected to grow? I believe this is a big part of Patagonia’s success. And I bet they continue to listen to their employees.

Watch the Patagonia video.