Brands as families part 2

Continuing the recent post about John Deere and brands as families...

Great brands provide a respite from today's world of broken families and disconnected individualistic behavior. They create a sense of community that is so strong it feels like being part of a family. This is especially true within the branded organization. While it is a stretch to make customers feel like they are part of a close-knit family, it is very possible to draw in employees into a familial environment. If that is done successfully, employees will extend the family metaphor out to customers (as well as other stakeholders) so that at the very least they feel they are part of a closely knit community or "tribe."

Two examples from Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba:

1. Build-A-Bear Workshop--Maxine Clark, founder: "Having a heart is more than a company strategy, it's a way of doing business. It extends to how people are treated in every aspect of the business. It is what excellent companies know is the core to success: treating vendors like partners, treating customers like guests, treating employees like friends and family." (p. 163)

2. Southwest Airlines--Colleen Barrett, president: "The Golden Rule is pretty important here." (p. 178) Barrett "despises empty walls, so nearly every square foot of company walls features framed pictures of employees in action at work, pictures of their kids and families, pictures in their high school cheerleading uniforms. Like a proud mama, the company even frames its employees' artwork and hangs it on the wall....Barrett chairs a committee of employees from every area of the company. Known as the Culture Committeee, its purpose is to build on the company's effervescent personality throughout the employee ranks. The results allow Southwest to retain a familial atmosphere amidst rapid growth."


Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, and, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.