Some people call it passion. Others refer to it as culture. I call it mojo, and it can make all the difference in a company’s success.
It’s a weird word,
but most people intuitively know what it means. It’s that special extra something that’s driven from within — a sense of unstoppable momentum where the sky’s the limit, and a
unique factor differentiating iconic brands from the competition.
When you look at companies with mojo, it might seem like they don’t have much in common. But regardless
of their industry, or whether they produce goods or services, the companies that market their mojo all share the following characteristics:
- Inspired sense of
purpose: They’re not all out to save the planet, but they all have a meaningful purpose behind why they do what they do that creates passion. Zappos isn’t just selling shoes;
they’re delivering happiness, and everyone in the organization is an active participant.
- Unique Cultures and Work Environments: Their cultures are
guided but never overly controlled. Well-crafted and meaningful core values define what makes the company unique.
- Strong and Passionate Leadership:
Leaders that are passionate about the company are at the helm. The term mojo might not be used, but they know it’s what they’re after. ING Direct’s founder and former president
believes employees should feel like they are on a mission, not just completing a task.
- Collaborative Relationships Between Employees and Key
Constituents: These companies care about the employees, and the employees care back. The result is a workforce willing to go the extra mile for each other. In 2010, Clif Bar & Company
initiated an Employee Stock Ownership Plan that handed over 20% ownership of the company to its 200+ employees.
- Vision, Culture and Employees Are Part of
the Brand: The good ones put it all together seamlessly. Employees are evangelists and a critical piece of the brand. Have you ever been on a Southwest Airlines flight where the flight attendant
actually raps the safety instructions? That’s mojo.
Here are five steps toward creating and marketing your mojo:
- Find it. Management
often wants to spark their company’s mojo, but they must remember they aren’t starting from scratch. Identify the milestone moments in the company’s history (both accomplishments and
adversity) and analyze how the company responded and behaved.
- Define it. Getting specific is sometimes the hardest part. But once it’s done, it’s
usually worth it. Values must be distilled down to their essence, so they can be acted on in a clear and consistent manner. Southwest’s culture comes down to four unique, impactful and concise
values—warrior spirit, servant’s heart, fun-LUVing attitude and work the Southwest way. These drive everything from their hiring practices to customer interactions.
- Nurture it. Culture should be nurtured, not controlled. Mojo comes from within each employee. Google’s commitment to innovation depends on a culture where everyone is
comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. They facilitate this sharing by providing a café (including free food) where people can get away from their computers and talk to each other, along with
their weekly all-hands (“TGIF”) meetings to bounce ideas off management and each other.
- Activate it. Finally, if you are successful and created
something special, you should share it and market it. Why? Because it differentiates you from competitors, it makes the most talented people in your industry want to join, and it creates magnetism
that your customers will want to be part of. Disney’s mojo is so strong, they’ve offered consumers a chance to compete for the role of Chief Magic Official. And if you really want a great
example of a mojo company, take a look at the U.S. Marines. Their vision and sense of purpose, core values and brotherhood are present in all of their marketing.
- Believe it. You have to believe in your company, your mission and your ability to succeed. Fighting doubt is the first step towards marketing your mojo. It all begins with buy-in
from the front lines to the top of the organization.
I recently gave a presentation about mojo and, as soon as I finished, an audience member raised his hand and asked,
“That’s great for special companies, but I work at an insurance company. How can we possibly have mojo?” Before I could even answer, someone in the audience stood up. He said,
“If you have passion for what you do, you can have mojo. I worked on a laxative brand of all things. You just need to realize that people buy from your company because you offer something that
they need in their lives. Whatever it is, be passionate about it, the role it plays and its contribution.”
I couldn’t have said it better.