Brand Matters: Season of Thanks

Women’s clothing and accessory retailer Ann Taylor shows its customer appreciation by including thank you notes from the president in all their outgoing orders.

CHEFS showed the firefighters of Colorado Springs Fire Station No. 9 its gratitude for their bravery against the Waldo Canyon Fire with a custom-designed KitchenAid mixer, as well as a collection of high-quality culinary tools for their station kitchen (full kitchen shown here).

CHEFS showed the firefighters of Colorado Springs Fire Station No. 9 its gratitude for their bravery against the Waldo Canyon Fire with a custom-designed KitchenAid mixer (shown here), as well as a collection of high-quality culinary tools for their station kitchen.

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

Employees
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.”

Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup, lived the Campbell Promise: “Campbell valuing people; people valuing Campbell.” One way he expressed that to his 20,000 employees was by taking the time to send handwritten notes. He estimates that during the course of his tenure at Campbell he wrote more than 30,000 thank you notes to employees. “I made it personal at Campbell,” he stated in an interview for Harvard Business Review.

Recently, I led a brand team exercise with one of my clients and gave each member of the team three thank you notes. I asked them to write one to a member of their department and to use the other two to connect with people outside their department. I wanted to remind these hard-charging, 115 MPH people to take note of how others had helped them accomplish their goals. We can sometimes forget how powerful those two little words are in the midst of our hyper accelerated business speed these days.

Customers
L.L. Bean is a company that has been graciously customer-centric for its centennial. As a way to celebrate its 100th anniversary, it launched a sweepstakes that is a real win for its cardholders.

L.L. Bean rewards cardmembers have an opportunity for a chance to win one of 25 prizes each month from March through December. Monthly prizes include (10) $500 L.L.Bean Gift Cards, (10) pairs of Bean Boots, (1) Camping Package, (1) Kayaking Package, (1) 100th Collectors Knife & Case, (1) Double L Fly Rod and Reel Package and (1) $500 L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools Adventure Gift Card. The grand prize is $1 million cash.

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of IER Partners, which has guided and strengthened brands of all sizes with savvy best practices for creating customers for life. Combining her passion of adventurous listening and working across diverse industries, her "outsider-insider" creative branding and merchandising expertise and objectivity has been valued by companies as diverse as Spanx, Ben & Jerry's, Celestial Seasonings, CHEFS and Boston Proper.  She holds an MBA and has dedicated more than 20 years to providing clients both domestic and international with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She is the author of  two books in which she shares her hands-on approach for both brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators, and BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants. You may reach her at asyverson@ierpartners.com.
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