Grateful Brands Are Great Brands

Chris WrenDecember 5, 20142 min

The principle behind gratitude as a state of mind is pretty simple and works by tinkering with individual perception. A grateful person not only acknowledges what they have, they appreciate it. People in a state of abundance (rather than a state of lack) are happier and more productive. When a mind operates in a state of lack, it is more disposed to cheat and steal and or operate with unbounded ambition.

A few months ago I wrote on the subject of brand social value and the importance of viewing a network from the point of view of ‘entity as group’, as well as ‘entity as individual’. To best engage a network we need to not only understand the motivation driving an individual to join a group, but also be aware of the emergent properties that happen when the group is acting as a single network.

Isn’t a brand remarkably similar to a network?

Can we use ‘entity as group’ to help a brand adopt the practice of gratitude?

We can. Here is an example of a grateful brand that is getting some great results:

Western Union’s CEO Hikmet Ersek thanks their customers in a touching one-minute video on the WU Facebook page. He says, “We call our customers our heroes because they inspire us,” and shares his story of what it was like to send money home as an immigrant. This video expression of gratitude is surrounded by a powerful social campaign that combines evocative imagery with empathetic and aspirational narrative, The approach has earned this brand 3,000,000 followers on Facebook, with many posting short anecdotes to the page or reposts. Loyalty is kindled, and customers are providing a treasure trove of qualitative data in the form of shared stories the brand never asked for, and never had to pay for.

Mindfulness is not a niche phenomenon. Oprah’s “Life Class” is a world tour in praise of gratitude and how living in a state of gratitude has transformational benefits. Here’s how four of O’s contributing writers like to say thank you:

  1. Pay it forward.
  2. Say it. Face to face.
  3. Drop a note in the mail.
  4. Give old-fashioned candies.

While those four ideas may not be practical for all brands, they are indications of the forms of expression that mean something special to people,

When CEOs create a culture of gratitude, a mindset of thankfulness, people within the organization, as well as the organization’s customers and clients, are apt to take notice.

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  • Aurelie Chazal

    December 8, 2014 at 3:41 am

    “Isn’t a brand remarkably similar to a network?”

    That’s how I like to see it. A brand is made around connections and relationships between the brand (and its employees) and the customers.

    Showing gratitude is one of the most under-rated things in business. It’s not really because brands are not grateful. It’s just that they don’t think about expressing it or just don’t know how.

    Every time I speak with a small business owner or employee, I can see how much they care about their customers, how proud they are of them… That’s the strengh of smaller businesses in my opinion. They often have more reasons to care and develop strong relationships with customers. For bigger brands, it can be tricky. Recording a video is awesome but it can be seen as “fake”. Let’s say Comcast recorded a video thanking customers. I’m sure 99% of people would think it was just corporate image building and not genuine.

    For bigger brands I’d say the best way to show appreciation is to train front line employees to perform small gestures to show customers they care. This shows the company is inherently human.

    Such gestures performed by front line employees are worth a lot more than a video recorded by the CEO. Now if the CEO took time to call few customers and thank them personally, it would be different.

    • Chris Wren

      December 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

      You bring up a great point. I think what we’ve got with Western Union is a unique opportunity where the CEO has practical, relatable experience with the brand as a customer. As he describes the joy of sending money to his home country, we believe him, because it is authentic and genuine, and we understand the “why” – why it is important to the CEO that they grow the customer relationship. Evidence this works for WU is in the hundreds of comments, it even appears that some global customers believe the CEO posted the video from his personal page. Looking deeper into WU, you’ll find a respectable and community-generous corporate culture which is consistent with the #givinggratitude message.

      In the case where a brand has been plagued by either wrong doing, or perceived wrong doing, a thank you to customers would obviously be inappropriate. But an internal, or external video of how to migrate from a current situation to a goal situation might go a long way. Every orchestra needs a conductor to set the mood and keep the time. This is why authentic messages from leadership, in a market that demands more transparency, is essential. Thoughts?

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