Anytime we watch businesses try to force growth through measures like ill-fitted acquisitions or price-cutting, we cringe. The path to lasting business growth isn’t paved with quick fixes, but many businesses fall prey to the deceptive ease of the more immediate path.

Given that, let’s shine a light on specific actions some leading companies have taken in favor of the long run. These organizations have put purpose at the core of their brands. Their pursuits beyond profit have strengthened their businesses, differentiated them among competitors and boosted loyalty in employees and customers. And yet, in deciding quick fixes aren’t acceptable, they’ve also seen substantial payoff. Funny how that goes.

Today, we spotlight a few examples, knowing this merely brushes the surface. We offer up their stories to help you think differently within your own company and how you can strengthen your brand. Chime in with other companies worth noting in the comments below.

The online retailer Zappos has many internal practices that favor the long run. As part of the onboarding process, employees are exposed to customer service training, regardless of position in the company. This better equips each employee to carry out their brand promise — to deliver happiness. Of course, the additional training isn’t without expense to Zappos. And, beyond the typical training costs, Zappos also gives each trainee an offer at the end of training — join the team or get paid to leave. These practices require effort and resources early on; yet, they seal both employee and customer loyalty for the long term.

TOMS Shoes embeds long-term thinking directly within its business model. Founder Blake Mycoskie established a business around a purpose that attracts customers and sustains brand loyalty over time. With each purchase made, TOMS gives a one-to-one contribution to people in need. This focus draws valuable customers — ones who aren’t wooed by the cheapest choice but rather those who believe in the purpose at the core of the TOMS brand and they remain loyal customers over time.

Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz has long advocated the importance of investing in employees. He built this focus into the business from day one. Starbucks has long been noted for offering insurance benefits to part-time employees at just 20 hours a week. And, more recently the company added a generous tuition reimbursement benefit that covers two full years of classes, available for both part-time and full-time employees. By valuing the employees on the front lines delivering the brand promise, Starbucks also strengthens brand loyalty with the customers they serve.

With this inspiration in hand, take a moment to take things local:

  • What decisions are you facing in your own organization?
  • Where can you shift focus from immediacy to long-term brand loyalty?
  • Is profit your chief mission, or is there a way to make a greater purpose drive your brand?
And, if you’re interested in learning more about the companies mentioned above, add these books to your reading list:
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Onward by Howard Schultz

Resource referenced
Wallace, Gregory. “Starbucks Latest Benefit: $30,000 Tuition Coverage.CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 15 June 2014. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.
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