All Posts By

Aaron Shields

Happy Employees, Happy Profits


“I have often blamed you in my mind for treating this or that person differently and reacting to this or that situation differently from how I would have; and yet the outcome usually showed you were right. ‘If we just take people as they are,’ you once said, ‘we make them worse; but if we treat them not as they are but as they should be, we help them to become what they can become.’”

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Treat Your Customers Like Family

Last week, we wrote about the power of the individual customers to transform your business. The intensely-devoted customers we highlighted—the Brand Lovers—seek out like-minded individuals to form brand communities. These groups become close-knit with ties that resemble family—or in modern parlance: they become framily.

Here’s a secret: they can treat you like framily too. When we were interviewing customers for Life is Good, they spoke of founders Bert Jacobs and John Jacobs as if they knew them and spoke about their mascot Jake as if he were a real person. Jake was imbued with all of Life is Good’s good deeds and Bert’s and John’s personalities and he became an honorary framily member at their barbecues.

A hallmark of family—and framily—is doing good deeds without expecting anything in return. This can take the form of surprise gifts or surprise shipping upgrades. But, one of the best and easiest ways is simply saying thank you.

In August, BJ wrote about the power of saying thank you, and meaning it, to your coworkers. The same is equally true for your customers. About a decade ago, after shopping at Cole Haan, I received a handwritten letter in the mail from the sales associate, thanking me for my business and telling me it was always good to see me. I’ve always maintained a few pairs of Cole Haan shoes in my collection since.

Thank you for reading our blog throughout the past year.

Brand Lover: What’s In A Name

brand-lover-whats-in-a-name“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other word would smell as sweet.”

Logically, Juliet’s statement makes sense: a name, or any word, is just a collection of symbols that when grouped together signify an object or idea. Yet, the last names of Romeo and Juliet create the central conflict in the play that results in the titular characters’ deaths.

What we call something often has more power than we realize.

It’s because words are more than just a group of symbols that just signify an object or idea: They go further than that to the point that they act as a stand in for that object or idea. In other words, they are a symbolic representation of the object or idea. And, as we know, symbols have great power because they act as a host of multiple meanings and layers of meanings within a single structure.

The symbolic power of words is why we choose the term Brand Lovers to refer to a company’s most passionate—and highest spending—customers.

We noticed a lot of companies found these customers to be “odd,” “weird,” or “crazy.” They saw their behavior as irrational. After all, why would some of them tattoo themselves with a company logo?

What is more passionate and seemingly irrational as love? You can’t understand a person’s love for something or someone through your own understanding, inclinations, or even the things or people you love. You can only understand love by empathizing with the other person and understanding their reality.

Calling these passionate and valuable fans Brand Lovers is a constant reminder to us and our clients to understand these customers on their terms instead of ours.

And, doesn’t thinking of them as Brand Lovers rather than “crazy” create a much different attitude and set of associations?

What do you call your best customers?