As a Bakery Advisor for Great Harvest, I get to visit bakeries around the country. That means a lot of airplane time. If you fly you’ve probably seen me. I’m that business traveler in seat 9B organizing a backpack full of notes, flipping through pages of itineraries, sorting receipts on my seatback tray and rushing to finish one more email with advice to a bakery owner before the laptops have to be shut down.
While I love visiting the stores and working with our franchisees to improve their businesses, I am often envious of the people I see boarding the planes with their Hawaiian-shirted suntans, grinning from ear to ear while wearing Mickey Mouse ears or trying to squeeze shopping bags in the overhead. All of which announce to the world, “I have been on vacation!”
But it’s dawned on me lately that, in the world of business travelers, I’m a bit envied too. Oftentimes, if I’m wearing Great Harvest logoed gear through the airport or checking out bakery websites while working on a project on the plane, people will comment on it. I can’t count the number of times someone has noticed the logo on my jacket or paperwork and said “Oh wow . . . You work for Great Harvest? I love that place!!!!”
This conversation usually continues with me explaining that I work out of the franchise office and travel around the country to assist bakery owners at our 200+ stores. Which is followed by them going on about, well . . . just about everything ─ from the number of stores they’ve visited to which bakeries they love to go to the most. They describe their favorite products with such joy (and in such stunning detail you would swear you could smell it)! It never fails to put a smile on my face, even after a long day.
Here’s why I say my position is envy-inducing. I’m usually not the only one on board sporting official-looking company attire. Often, there are other people who obviously represent well-known and respected brands on the same plane. But, oddly enough, I’ve never seen anyone block an aisle during boarding so they can chat up the Xerox guy saying, “You work for Xerox? I love your machines!” That’s not to say that customers don’t have a brand “loyalty” to Xerox. But, I see very few brands ─ from tractors to software ─ that inspire travelers to excitedly reveal their brand “passion” to a stranger on a plane the way they do with me. Makes me feel a bit sorry for all those other guys. . .
There’s a difference between brand loyalty and brand passion. While there are a lot of definitions out there, here’s my simplified view:
Brand loyalty basically means that people, for whatever reason, are committed to buying the same brand of something over and over rather than purchasing a competing brand.
But, brand passion? That takes it to a whole ‘nother level!
People with brand passion are more than loyal. They are brand ambassadors who share their passion with others ─ not only on social media sites but in real life conversations with their co-worker in the next cubicle, their friends at this weekend’s barbecue, and yes… even with a complete stranger on a plane.
Emotional attachments like this don’t come from a corporate “how-to” manual or the latest “review us” website. It comes from having special neighborhood places, personal experiences and phenomenal products that people are so proud to be connected with that they want to bring others into the fold and share what an awesome place they’ve found.
You don’t buy passion. For Great Harvest, it is something earned by our bakery owners and employees across the country every day.
Because the only people who are equally as passionate as our customers about Great Harvest are the folks you see smiling behind the bakery counter, sweating in front of the oven, and bringing treats to your next community event. And of course . . . the woman at 30,000 feet seated in 9B.
Learn more about how Great Harvest supports Bakery cafe Owners:
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