Great Brand Champions Know the True Meaning of Good Old Fashioned Holiday Spirit

Best Buy etches its spot on Santa’s “Nice” list with a generous dose of holiday giving.

The season of giving is back. For proof, look no further than a Best Buy store in Long Island, NY. Employees of the big box retailer noticed that a local teen had come into the store every day for a month to play the new Nintendo Wii U display. Warm with holiday cheer, they all decided to pitch in and purchase the $300 console for the teen and present it to him next time he came in to play.

The teen, confused and speechless, humbly accepted the gift and shook the hand of a Santa mysteriously dressed in Best Buy blue.


If this was just an example of community giving and selflessness during the holiday season, or even customer service well beyond the norm, that would be more than enough to warm our hearts. But the actions of these Best Buy employees highlighted something else, something people like us here at Brand Iron know as being great Brand Champions. The unsolicited actions of a few people at this one location speaks volumes for Best Buy as a whole and a corporate culture that truly puts their customer first.

A jolly shout out to goodness from us here at Brand Iron. Look around for your chance to pass along the holiday spirit, and we’ll be here as always to help you Achieve your Anything.

Have a great holiday season and a happy New Year from all of us here at Brand Iron!


The Resignation of a Brand Champion Affects Company Performance – Even in the Stock Market

Starbucks shares fall on announced CEO departure

We know that every brand needs a Champion. Someone who stands behind their company’s distinct identity, who wholly engages it, pushes its message, and makes sure it is at the forefront of everything the company does. For Starbucks, that person is none other than Howard Schultz. For more than 20 years and through two separate stints as CEO, Schultz has provided invaluable vision, guidance and leadership for the Starbucks brand. In turn, we think it’s fair to say Starbucks has done pretty well selling a fair amount of coffee.

But a Brand Champion’s actions don’t just define company performance in terms of products sold or customers served. When the news came out that Howard Schultz is stepping down, a different Starbucks metric took a hit – their stock. The departure of Schultz, a clear Brand Champion in the eyes of company shareholders, caused an initial stock plunge of 10%. Shares have since recovered, but not fully, and only because Starbucks coffee is so darn good. However, it’s clear that investor confidence took a hit after its Brand Champion announced his resignation, and that is telling of his instrument to how the company is perceived.


Starbucks shares fall on day of Schultz resignation announcement 


Stepping in as CEO is soon-to-be-former President and COO Kevin Johnson. At Brand Iron, we’ll be watching to see if he can take the brand reigns and keep an already prosperous company on the path of prominence. We know one way he can do that, and it has something to do with becoming Starbucks’ next biggest Brand Champion…


Going The Extra 9,369 Miles

World change usually starts small, but always starts somewhere. For David Ware, President and CEO of McStain Neighborhoods, making a difference can mean going the extra mile or simply reaching out a helping hand. From there, the big dream of building a brighter future becomes tangible. Following his passion for sustainable building practices, Ware set out to go the extra 9,369 miles to put his talents to work.

9,369 miles from Denver sits the Adziwa Christian School. The school was founded as a place of learning for children whose lives have been severely impacted by AIDS. David joined the Church of the City  and their group of 10 volunteers on their mission to Lilongwe, Malawi. Broken into two teams, the volunteers helped to revitalize the school with construction and educational projects.

“I had a chance to use my skills, tangible hands-on skills, to make their lives and community better”

As the President and CEO of McStain Neighborhoods, Ware demonstrates time and time again that sustainability is something that thrives by breaking down borders. He specifically points to the barriers between professional and personal life. McStain Neighborhoods continues to push forward with the dream of building a better world through better neighborhoods. “I had a chance to use my skills, tangible hands-on skills, to make their lives and community better,” says Ware. With his trip to Malawi, Ware was able to travel, see new places, and see how the world works. He also got to cross a few items off of his personal bucket list. As he puts it, it’s all about helping a community embrace sustainability.

Back in the US, David leads McStain Neighborhoods with the philosophy that an extra mile goes a long way. When it comes to homebuilding or humanitarian projects, the work you do will last a long time, but the relationships you build will last even longer.  


Care, Compassion, and Chick-fil-A: Brand Champions in Times of Crisis

When a crisis hits too close to home, we feel as if we have woken up from a strange dream with our ears ringing, still reeling from losing our grasp on reality. As these horrendous events continue to happen, a few companies have developed nearly instantaneous responses to these situations, quietly lending a helping hand while showing the public they truly stand for the principles neatly laid out in their mission statements.

Other brands go above and beyond to generate social media support and monetary donations for victims and families in crisis, like Disney, Darden Restaurants, and the Orlando Magic.

Some brands have been on the support scene for years. Tide’s Loads of Hope initiative has been providing disaster-stricken communities with clean laundry since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. Other brands go above and beyond to generate social media support and monetary donations for victims and families in crisis, like Disney, Darden Restaurants, and the Orlando Magic.

One particularly powerful example of company outreach came from a surprising source: the conservative restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. In the past, Chick-fil-A has been painted as an opposing force to the LGBT community, with unsavory remarks on gay marriage. When the largest mass shooting in US history occurred on a Sunday in Orlando, Florida, Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country were closed, giving employees a day of rest in accordance with the Christian values that founded the company. However, one location in Lee Vista, just 7 miles away from the site of the shooting, decided to fire up the grill for hungry first responders, volunteers and blood donors.


For a company so entrenched in Christian morals, this act of kindness was not simply an appropriate display of corporate action, but managed to seamlessly align the company with the epitome of Christian values: compassion, acceptance, and doing what is right to help those in need.

In times of uncertainty, the public turns to the voices of leaders for guidance and comfort. Chick-fil-A is a unique mouthpiece that balances religious and business practices and as such, takes an encouraging stance on company policy in times of crisis: Brand Champions’ actions speak as loudly as their branding.    

The Art of Closing

Brand Champions know that the key to success is sales and being able to close sales engagements. Here are a few tips to help you master the art of closing:

Closing requires being proactive, addressing the prospect’s needs with a fitting solution, and taking action towards answering any questions so that the path to the close is obstacle-free.

  1. Meet with the prospect face to face! It always helps when you can answer questions and alleviate any fears that your potential customers may have.
  2. Digital can kill. Even if the prospect asks for you to send them a proposal via email, don’t do it. This not only risks dragging things out for too long but also takes away the ability to address questions and concerns. You might just end up losing the sale altogether through one digital interaction.
  3. Anticipate any questions. Be proactive when it comes to what the prospect is thinking. Prepare answers ahead of time to address questions them in the proposal or presentation to stay ahead of the curve. It’s important to think ahead and come prepared.
  4. Identify a deadline. If your prospect needs to work towards a specific deadline, you can leverage this timeline and accommodate their needs. If you partner with them to assure effective and timely action, this can be a powerful closing tool.
  5. Work towards a long-term relationship. Brand Champions know how to manage a client and secure a lasting relationship. Nobody likes a partner who can’t commit. You have to lay a foundation to build a relationship and closing is step one of that process.

Closing requires being proactive, addressing the prospect’s needs with a fitting solution, and taking action towards answering any questions so that the path to the close is obstacle-free. Don’t wait for things to happen, reach out and make them happen, follow these steps, own your brand and discover the amazing results that follow.  

Dr.Sean, Brand Champion of The Joint

image011image00-300x150 I frequent The Joint, a chiropractic services office located in Lakewood, Colorado, where Dr. Sean Burkhardt is the primary chiropractor. I’ve tried several chiropractors over the years and finding a good one isn’t easy to do. When I came across Dr. Sean, I was pleasantly surprised. He isn’t just a good chiropractor, he is also a true Brand Champion for The Joint. With a great bedside manner, Dr. Sean fully embodies what The Joint stands for by truly caring about his patients.

Dr. Sean has taken the brand experience at the Lakewood Office to a totally different level. By taking the time to get to know each and every single one of his patients, he makes sure they are getting properly treated. Just as Brand Champions make sure their customers and clients have great brand experiences and want to come, Dr. Sean creates a chiropractic experience that does just that.
As I’ve gotten to know Dr. Sean, I’ve noticed how he goes out of his way to provide a personal experience. He finds exercises and adjustments to help make my body and spine better and healthier. He even found a special stretch for me and texted me a video on how to do it properly. Dr. Sean’s fantastic care reinforces the good experience I associate with The Joint brand. The Joint in Lakewood should be proud of the great Brand Champion they found in Dr. Sean.