Which U.S. Companies Inspire You?

Companies benefit when they inspire their customers.  Their customers spend more with them, and willingly promote the company to their friends.

Companies that Inspire

Performance Inspired, a consulting firm that helps organisations elevate performance through the science of inspiration, has found that most of us (89% to be exact) find inspiration in at least one brand or corporation.  They conducted a survey to identify America’s most inspiring companies, with the goal of finding a correlation between successful companies and those that inspire their customers.  Performance Inspired found that inspired consumers feel like they are part of a company’s mission for making the world a better place.  They don’t feel like they are just helping a company make money; they feel that they are a part of doing good when they support companies that are doing good.

What do consumers do when they are inspired by a company?  According to the survey:

  • 81% would recommend the company to friends and family
  • 78% would be loyal to that company
  • 72% would share their experience with others
  • 55% would spend more on a company that inspires them

The Most Inspiring List

So who made the list?  Here’s the top twenty.

  1. Microsoft
  2. Disney
  3. Wal-Mart
  4. Chick-fil-A
  5. Target
  6. McDonald’s
  7. Google
  8. Amazon
  9. Johnson & Johnson
  10. Toms Shoes
  11. The Coca-Cola Company
  12. Apple
  13. Starbucks
  14. Costco
  15. Ford
  16. Whole Foods Market
  17. Southwest Airlines
  18. Wegmans Food Markets
  19. Goodwill Industries
  20. Pepsi

I must admit I’m surprised at seeing Microsoft at No. 1.  But thanks to the company’s philanthropic initiatives, passionate employees and stellar leadership, it reclaimed the title of America’s Most Inspiring Company this year after losing out to Apple in 2011 and 2012.  Other big names on the list such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Whole Foods Market were applauded for having strong, inspiring leadership and passionate employees.

The Starbucks mission statement is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit.”  It looks like they are actually achieving their mission!

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, believes that purpose-driven companies do their best to make decisions through the “lens of humanity.” He says “Let me be specific about what that means at Starbucks.  From our earliest days, our business model has been based on achieving a balance between profitability and a social conscience.  This balance is not easy to strike.  Companies must make money to survive, obviously.  But at Starbucks, we have always tried to make and spend money in ways that are meaningful to our customers and to our people…  Let me also say that profitability is a shallow goal if it is not tied to human purpose. Today, Starbucks is more successful than at any time in our history, financially as well as an admired brand.  We are not perfect and we can always be better, but I am proud that we are achieving and sustaining our success through the lens of humanity, in large part by prioritizing our own partners’ well-being.” [Emphasis added]

My wife will not be happy if I don’t give a shout-out to Toms Shoes!  They also made the list, despite their youth and small size.  Blake Mycoskie founded Toms Shoes (for “Tomorrow’s Shoes”) in 2006.  The company donates a pair of shoes to needy people in places like Argentina and Haiti for every pair that it sells.

Performance Inspired comments: “This survey highlights the fact that when a company embarks on an inspiring mission, its employees become inspired by their work and that makes for an inspiring customer experience every time.”

In looking at the list, I suspect some companies inspire people through their products as much as their mission.  That’s probably why Apple topped the survey in 2011 and 2012, but dropped back this year after the lack of new product releases .  I think that Ford are inspiring for the way they came through the financial crisis.  I’m not sure about McDonalds, but I am inspired by companies like Tesla Motors who are creating beautiful technology that will disrupt an entire industry for the better.

What companies would make your Most Inspiring list?

(This post is based on this article on Forbes.)

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