The most successful brands have a purpose – an identity – a soul. We feel a powerful emotional connection to those companies that embody our own aspirations and personal values. They help us to better understand ourselves and our place in the world – making us feel more powerful, smarter, and more content.
How do you know if your brand has a soul?
The people behind soulful brands can easily answer these three questions:
What are your values?
What’s most sacred to your organization?
What ideals do you share that no one in your company will ever stray from?
Brands built upon shared values have a strong foundation. A student lost his eyeglasses on a backpacking trip. The replacement cost was so high that he had to spend his first semester of grad school squinting, grumbling, and scraping by without them. Disgusted by the high cost of prescription eyewear, he – and three of his friends – set out on a mission to make eyeglasses affordable, and available to everyone. Not only did they succeed in selling glasses at very affordable prices, but for every pair purchased, a second pair is provided to someone in need. Warby Parker is now a billion dollar business, distributing over one million pairs of glasses to people in developing countries around the world.
The emotional connection extends beyond consumers. Employees love brands that are in line with their values, as well. When your brand has a soul, your people are proud of your company – they’re motivated to represent and defend it. Trader Joe’s has some of the happiest employees in America. They hire enthusiastic, fun-loving workers and treat them well, with generous benefits and a high hourly wage. Employees are encouraged to try new products for free, so they’re knowledgeable about everything they sell. They can open any product in the store for customers to sample. They’re trained to explain their unique product offerings, and feel a real sense of responsibility for pleasing their customers. The store is a treasure hunt, with clever, artsy chalk signage, and a return-anything policy. Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell groceries – they sell an experience. The result? The company has the highest sales per square foot of any grocer in the United States.
Soulful brands listen and carefully respond to the needs of stakeholders. The result is customers and employees who are loyal, and extremely viral within their community. Brands with a soul embody the values of owners, employees, and customers – forging a deep emotional connection with those they serve.