Getting the Love You Want

I’m naturally drawn to people who have a clear sense of purpose and direction in their lives. People who are comfortable with themselves, know why they get up every day, and what they bring to the world. Brands who have a clear sense of purpose exude a confidence that inspires a passionate and engaged following. Igniting passion in your own brand is the first important step in getting the love you want from both your employees and customers. There’s no better way to find inspiration than looking out in the world for real-life examples:

Start with a having clear purpose, and meeting a legitimate underserved need.


There’s a large group of people in the world who love their pets more than they love the people in their lives. Their passionate search for, and loyalty to, what they believe is best for their pets rivals the commitment of a first-time mother. The Honest Kitchen was founded in 2002 by a disillusioned pet owner who began making a home-prepared raw diet for her Rhodesian Ridgeback because she wanted to give him food she could feel good about. While she developed a deeper connection with her dog and satisfaction making her pets meals herself, she found it time-consuming and messy. So she set out to find a better way to make fresh, healthy pet food. She found the answer was to dehydrate the ingredients so that water could just be added to each meal to turn it back into ‘real food’.

Today, the company’s line of all-natural, dehydrated people food for pets, made with whole-food ingredients, sells in more than 2,000 independent pet food stores across the country. Their purpose is to connect pet owners more closely with pets through food, and they promise tangible results. It’s clear that their internal passion for pet health and the loyalty pet owners have for their product is driving their success in becoming the leading natural dog food brand in the country. They identified a real need and developed a brilliant solution.

Fired up employees who genuinely love what the company stands for will champion the cause daily.

Lululemon Athletica seemed to quietly enter the retail space a few years ago. Their fame was fueled in part by their authentic connection to the yoga community, and in part by their form-improving, purpose-driven black yoga pants. Rooted authentically in the yoga community, they’ve quietly grown from a fledgling concept to a passion-based brand. Their first real store opened in Vancouver, BC in 2000 and their idea was a simple one: be a community hub where people could learn about the physical aspects of healthy living from yoga, diet, running, cycling and the mental aspects of living an active lifestyle.

Every week, Lululemon stores move their products aside, unroll yoga mats, and turn their spaces into pop-up yoga studios. Classes are complimentary and are lead by instructors from local studios from the surrounding community. The staff at Lululemon reflects the lifestyle of the brand authentically, which most retail brands struggle with and, in so doing, effortlessly attract the type of consumers who shop and work out there. Lululemon Athletica authentically combines purpose and the passion of the people they serve at the center of their brand experience, and from the outside they make it look effortless.

Create pure product love.


Cycling is an activity that requires a lot of stamina, strength, focus, and fortitude. Like building a brand, the more you put in, the more you get out. Rapha Performance Roadwear was created to celebrate road biking; the glory and suffering unique to riders. Everything Rapha does is informed by their passion and understanding of what makes a road racer’s heart, beat for their sport. From the compelling short films, the striking photography, and adventurous rides, Rapha is a cult passion brand with a fanatical following.

This online emporium of performance road wear, accessories, publications and unique events celebrates the glory and suffering of road biking in a way that pays homage to both the sport today and its rich history. It’s a brand that has passion carefully embedded across all of its touch-points. Rapha has become a purpose-driven brand by providing performance products, imaginative events and opportunities for consumers to experience, participate, and become a part of the spirit of the brand. And as an unspoken bonus, Rapha’s performance products and their attention to style detail might quietly put the neon spandex nastiness of road biking fame out to pasture.

Recommit. Repeat. Refresh.

Sharp Healthcare and its 20,000 employees are committed to being the best place to work, the best place to practice medicine, and the best place to receive care in San Diego, and, through what they call the Sharp Experience, they recommit to this vision every single year. The Sharp Experience is alive everyday in the delivery and quality of care administered by Sharp’s employees. It’s a vision that guides the health care experience, how Sharp employees interact with and serve their patients, families and each other.

Every year they hold an All-Staff Assembly to engage the entire organization in recommitting to “the purpose and worth of our work and the difference we make in the lives of others.” Part-inspiration, part-education and part-celebration. 20,000 people inspired and engaged over three days, recommitted, reminded and refreshed about why they do what they do. There’s no question about what business they’re in or what their promise to their customer is. This is a powerful way to mobilize employees doing life-changing work for one of the best run organizations in the country.

Take a look at what you’re currently doing to show your customers that you really care about them and that you understand them. Are you building a relationship with them, therefore gaining permission to connect with them? Is it love or are you behaving like a lazy husband or disinterested friend? There’s been a lot of talk about random acts of kindness and millions of dollars are invested in CRM technology, the attraction of friends on Facebook and the explosion of social media as a discipline for getting closer with customers, but what are you really doing for your customers that builds loyalty?


Once upon a time, if you carried a Starbucks Credit Card they would send surprise free coffee beans, or free drinks, every other month or two. It was truly surprise and delight, but for some odd reason they stopped. We say bring it back and learn from the notion that doing the unexpected wins hearts and minds.


About the author

Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Sony, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, Kashi, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision