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As we close out the month of love, let’s take a look at love within companies. What role does love play in the corporate world? What implications does it have for your company?

Regardless of your stance on the recent Hallmark holiday and whether or not you enjoy candy hearts, we think a book worth the read is  — Firms of Endearment.

The book outlines the transformation of capitalism, the characteristics of “Firms of Endearment” and the relationships these successful companies have with their stakeholders. What it boils down to is quite simple: these companies have unparalleled relationships with their employees, customers, partners and shareholders. Their stakeholders literally love them. And, thanks to those passionate connections, they experience remarkable business performance.

The bad news — you can’t transform into one of these companies overnight. The good news — Firms of Endearment highlights how you can kindle the flame of passion within and beyond your company.

Here are a few of those keys:

1. Bond over a shared common purpose

Has your heart ever fluttered when chatting with someone about a shared interest? Do you ever just click with the essence of who someone is? Firms of Endearment benefit from these phenomena in big ways. These companies’ well-defined purpose strikes a chord with their stakeholders and sends hearts fluttering. That aroma of purpose is infused in everything they do — drawing stakeholders to them, creating affectionate bonds and informing their success.

If you’ve spent much time reading recent Baker blogs, the mention of purpose likely doesn’t surprise you. It’s part of the foundation we build within a brand platform. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record this book reminded us — the value of purpose in a company cannot be overstated.

2. Call your dance “aligning” stakeholders instead of “balancing” them

Firms of Endearment draws a worthwhile distinction between these two terms. “Balance” implies competing interests or priorities. “Alignment” does not imply such opposition. The latter term better represents what profitable Firms of Endearment do — rally multiple groups of stakeholders (ranging from employees and customers to shareholders and partners) around their clearly defined shared purpose in a way that benefits all groups simultaneously. They literally share the love.

Traditionally, analysts have assumed a benefit for one stakeholder group steals from another group. For example, higher employee wages must mean less money in shareholders’ pockets. But, have you heard of the notion that love expands? Perhaps you watched it play out as your love for your spouse somehow increased instead of divided with the birth of a new child. Organizations experience the multiplicative effects of love as well. Higher wages for employees can (and often does) benefit customers through improved quality of service and shareholders through increased sales.

3. When setting the mood, start with your culture

Affectionate bonds between companies and their stakeholders grow out of fertile cultures. Exceptional companies make investment in their people a priority. Their positive organizational energy draws talented employees, loyal customers, strategic partners and dedicated shareholders together — reinforcing magnetic feel good vibes and an enviable competitive advantage.

We can attest to the importance of culture within brand development. When positive organizational energy is married to a clearly communicated vision and explicitly defined values, companies become far more aligned and powerful. They create greater value for all involved and reap greater profitability.

Love doesn’t always come easy. This rings true for a company’s relationship with its stakeholders. It takes muscle and intentionality to embed the key characteristics described here in any company. To explore further, we recommend picking up your own copy of Firms of Endearment. And, if you’re ready to flesh out your company’s brand platform, we’d love to hear from you.

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