Better Branding: Hire Passionate People



I’ve been reading Passion Brands: Why Some Brands Are Just Gotta Have, Drive All Night For, and Tell All Your Friends About by Kate Newlin, and am enjoying her analysis of what makes a “passion brand.” Passion brands are those with which consumers form an emotional attachment, and which they recommend enthusiastically to their friends. Indeed, passionate brands inspire evangelism, and their loyalists are disappointed if friends fail to follow their advice.

For me, the piece of advice that most resonated was that to build a passion brand, you must hire “passionistas.” Those employees bring their own passion for the category and the brand, and the people they interact with will see their genuine enthusiasm and become infected themselves. Newlin writes,

Passion brands breed passionate followings, very often through impassioned employees. I remember the early stories of Red Bull, when dogged sales guys would bring empty cans to bars and leave them crunched up and strewn around to make it look like the brand was popular, well before it actually was.

When we review resumes, we often focus on the objective facts: education, experience, accomplishments, and so on. If we really want to maintain passion within the group and extend that to customers, we need to be sure we add “passion” to the subjective requirements.

Musical Passion. A company I’ve known for years is The Woodwind and Brasswind, which grew to become the largest mail order seller of musical instruments. They also have a major retail outlet that draws customers from far beyond our local metro area. One of the hallmarks of their salespeople is that they are all musicians, many in rock or other genres. They don’t look like your typical retail staffers, but they can answer almost all customer questions and discuss different instruments, features, and brands with considerable knowledge.

I’m sure the reason that WWBW adopted the policy of hiring musicians was that they brought product knowledge that would have been impossible to provide non-musicians even with extensive training. But, I think, the bonus the firm got from hiring these players was that the brought their passion for music to work every day. They weren’t just reciting facts about guitars or drum sets, they were sharing their enthusiasm with their customers. They were examples of Newlin’s “passionistas,” and the firm’s spectacular growth was a result.

Tech Passion. For a period of years, I ran an IT business and had to hire network engineers and PC techs. One of the most telling questions I asked job applicants was, “What kind of computer setup do you have at home?” I tended to hire the ones whose faces lit up as they described complex networks they had built with salvaged hardware and beta-version software. I knew they didn’t get into the IT field after seeing an ad promising high salaries – they reinstalled operating systems for fun. Invariably, these passionate techies were the most up-to-date knowledge-wise and the quickest problem-solvers.

From a neuromarketing standpoint, customers can sense the passion of your people, even if they don’t process it consciously. The body language, the speech patterns, and other cues will give your customers the confidence that the person they are dealing with truly believes in your product.

So, when you are looking at resumes, get beyond the facts, and look for passion!

1 Comment
  1. Sheila says

    Funny thing about music – I know a lot of music retailers or retailers of musical instruments won’t hire someone without a music degree! (Or at least someone studying music).

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