In the midst of a national Media and Cultural Attack will your customers honor you with a “World Record Day”?


Telling your brand’s story well will plant seeds that reap a bountiful harvest

RT @RickWarren: @DanCathy just called me. #ChickFilA has already set a world record today, with 7 more hrs to go in the West. #OutOfChicken

Why – at the peak of a national frenzy of media and cultural attack including widespread calls to boycott – did Chick-fil-A have its “World Record” sales day?  Perhaps CEO Dan Cathy foretold the answer to this question when, a month before the event, he said:  “Successful brands are the ones that can tell their stories the most effectively.”

Consumers came to support Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day spanning across the nation on August 1, 2012.

Given the millions of customers who streamed into Chick-fil-A’s 1,600 restaurants in a nationwide outpouring of appreciation on August 1, this family-owned company with 4 billion in annual revenues has told its story well and connected to a powerfully loyal base.  Their customers know who Chick-fil-A is and what the company is about.  And when the company came under national fire from activist groups that oppose what Chick-fil-A represents, the customer base rallied in record-breaking form to show its support.

It’s no secret that Chick-fil-A customers like the food. However, it’s not the waffle fries they tweet about. Rather, it’s the great service and personal attention offered in the context of a corporate culture that resonates with customers. Something no competitor can duplicate.

As a company, Chick-fil-A has done an exceptional job in connecting with their customers based on their core culture of respect and honor for all their customers and in what they call “the second mile.”  Cathy says, “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Chick-fil-A is not a religious company, but it is operated by people whose beliefs and faith-based worldview guide their daily lives – including how they choose to steward the company.  Here, Cathy uses the word steward because he and his family see themselves as temporary custodians of what God has given them.  They believe you can’t – and shouldn’t – separate who you are from what you do.  They do not segment their faith from the rest of their life.  They see no divide between secular and sacred.

Contrary to some media reports, the millions who poured into Chick-fil-A restaurants on Aug. 1 didn’t go to protest gay marriage or promote a “fundamentalist agenda.”  Rather, they went in large part because they felt compelled to take a stand for freedom of speech and religion and because Chick-fil-A honors all their customers and treats them dignity and respect – even if they disagree on values or beliefs.

Last month during a visit to Raleigh, North Carolina, I had the opportunity to speak personally with Dan Cathy and ask him about Chick-fil-A.  He made it clear that the company doesn’t target any particular group, but welcomes everyone equally.

Does your customer know your story and does it resonate deeply with them?  Do you make efforts to include everyone and make them feel important, or are there some market segments that feel less welcomed?  

When the going gets tough, will your brand see a record-setting sales harvest from nurtured relationships like that which Chick-fil-A experienced in the face of nationwide scrutiny?

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