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Brand Matters : Season of Thanks

How your brand can show employees, customers and vendors appreciation any time of the year

December 2012 By Andrea Syverson
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Remember this cheer often chanted on school buses in your youth? "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?" And everyone yelled, "The BUS DRIVER!"

Recently the entire brand team at CHEFS, a multichanneler of kitchen goods, got to put this cheer into action. President & CEO, Tim Littleton, and all the employees at CHEFS felt strongly that they had the brave team at Colorado Springs Fire Station No. 9 to thank for saving the neighborhood and area surrounding their company during this summer's devastating Waldo Canyon Fire.

One of Colorado's most destructive fires ever, it caused more than 32,000 residential evacuations and burned almost 350 homes. Littleton said, "CHEFS wanted to show our appreciation in a way that was unique to our brand, and we thought that adopting a firehouse kitchen was the best thing we could do."

The firefighters, who work 24-hour shifts, take turns cooking meals for one another. Their existing kitchen was a motley collection of equipment and utensils. CHEFS raised thousands of dollars from their associates and showed the firefighters a little "CHEFS LOVE" through an extravagant gifting of new, top-quality kitchen gear.

It was a Christmas morning experience in the firehouse that day. The best gift of all, though, was a customized Kitchen Aid electric mixer that CHEFS had painted to match a fire engine. The firefighters were elated, but so was CHEFS. "What fun it was for our team to show our sincere appreciation to these firefighters for risking their lives to save our community. We really couldn't have said thank you enough," Littleton shared.

How is your brand expressing its gratitude to its employees? Its customers? Its partners? Do you have a gratitude strategy? I applaud businesses that make gratitude part of their business life. Here are just a few examples to inspire your own strategy:

What makes employees feel appreciated these days? It runs the gamut from flexible work hours to verbal recognition on great behavior to compensation that rewards risk. More often than not, though, it's the little things.

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, echoed his gratitude strategy this way: "Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free—and worth a fortune."



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