There’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path. Wise words first uttered by the Waschowski brothers and later echoed by Zappos.com CEO, Tony Hsieh, in his book, Delivering Happiness. The quote brings up a great point when seen in the context of corporate culture and client-facing branding, two often misaligned forces.
In an ideal world, a brand’s DNA permeates not just marketing tactics and slogans, but the way in which a company runs from the inside out, (regardless if the company is B2B or B2C). It sounds obvious and yet, we’ve all seen that “creative agency” with stringent rules about dress code and start times. Even if these ironies remain unseen outside of the office, shouldn’t the bodies behind the brand live and breathe the same promise they make to their customers, even when no one is looking?
Yes, according to Zappos.com.
Zappos.com is the world’s second largest e-commerce store (behind Amazon) and consistently recognized for having the highest level of employee satisfaction worldwide. With approximately $7 million in sales every day, there are currently 8,487,654 pairs of shoes in stock (a number relayed to me on a recent tour of the Zappos facilities in Las Vegas).
It’s impressive, but what was more impressive was the person who told it to me: our shuttle driver, a Zappos employee who looked up the stat on his iPhone. Another noteworthy number is the company’s debut in Fortune Magazine as the highest ranking newcomer on the 2009 “Best Companies to Work For” list.
As I toured the facilities, with some 1,300 employees in Nevada (5,000 in Kentucky) I wondered if this accolade was due to the highly decorated work areas or the fully-stocked cafeterias; clearly Zappos employees have the freedom to express themselves as well as the sense that they are valued. But there’s more to it.
Flipping through the 2011 Culture Book—the company’s annual publication showcasing what working at Zappos.com means to its employees—the words empowerment, grateful, and family appear in just about every paragraph.
Clearly, ownership and accountability form the bedrock of the Zappos corporate culture. Add to that a great sense of energy and momentum, the belief that nothing is static, and it’s easy to see that people really can feel proud of the brand they represent, so long as they feel that they contribute to it.
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