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

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:

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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