Needed: Chief Joy Officers

By: Andrea Syverson

Those of us who attended this year’s Women in Retail Leadership Summit in Miami were certain of one thing — it was one JOYFUL gathering! So many smart women under one roof and blue sky! Joy-filled connections from past relationships, joy-filled introductions amongst new friends. Honest, heartfelt, inspiring presentations that shared both worklife joys and sorrows. Real conversations about personal life tradeoffs and their sometimes joyful and not-so-joyful outcomes. Joy was everywhere. I hopped back on my flight to Colorado and thought, “we need more of that!”

When were you last surprised by joy?

This past Easter I was “surprised by joy” when I experienced two typical and traditional seasonal gifts — flowers and chocolates — in unexpected ways. One was a gift I received — an abundantly filled glass vase of gorgeous soon-to-be blossoming colorful tulips from BLOOMAKER still in their bulbs. The other was a gift I gave to little ones in my life — KINDER JOY eggs (as they say: “Treat + Toy = Joy”). Both items inspired smiles. Both items exceeded expectations. Both items brought both the givers and recipients joy.

This got me thinking … as brand, product and content developers, we may need to tinker with joy more. Every organization has chiefs: chiefs of marketing, merchandising, creative, finance. A few have chief people officers, chief growth officers, even chief transformation officers. But just think what could happen if we all had chief JOY officers! Even better, what if WE were chief JOY officers?

We hear a lot about B corps these days — those triple bottom-line corporations that intentionally use business as a force of good. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s, The Container Store, Patagonia and many others. Those firms seem to have joy infused in their DNA. Ben & Jerry’s specializes in euphoria; The Container Store exudes excitement; and Patagonia gets as much joy fixing your old gear as selling you new gear. These companies make joy a two-way priority and it shows. Joyful employees create joyful customer experiences.

Tinkering with joy isn’t just for those B corps, however. Joy-full brands come in all shapes and sizes, and cut across all types of products and industry sectors. Here are a few more examples of companies that know the power of delight:

1. Wilton, a bakeware and decorating tools company, wants its customers to “BAKE THEIR WORLD HAPPY.” Here’s Wilton’s message: “Innovative products. Mouthwatering inspiration. Having fun in the kitchen. This has been at the heart of what we do for nearly 90 years. As styles, trends and tastes change, we evolve to make sure we’re bringing you the latest and most relevant products and ideas. We know a little cupcake can go a long way — and with accessible projects and recipes, you have boundless opportunities to bake your world happy.” Wilton specializes in baking bliss.

2. Entrepreneur Terri Alpert founded Uno Alla Volta (which means “One At a Time” in Italian) to bring forth “a world of treasures and collectibles intricately handcrafted one at a time to beautify, inspire and touch the soul.” Terri notes that if you talk to the artists “you will hear in their voices the happiness that creation can bring. They will speak of the joy of spreading ‘particles’ of their human spirit throughout the world, much as a dandelion spreads its seeds. You will hear of their wish to create something truly lasting — something which will be cherished, appreciated and shared.” Uno Alla Volta brings soul to gift-giving.

3. Creative office products manufacturer Poppin “believes that everyone, everywhere deserves to work happy” and here’s how it started: “It all began with the simple stapler. A humdrum office workhorse, its design remained untouched for decades. What would happen, we thought, if you reimagined that ordinary artifact of the office into something absolutely extraordinary?” Poppin brings joy to office accessories.

4. Colorful furniture maker Maine Cottage “delivers happiness to homes everywhere. Our furniture is not only colorful and uplifting, but it truly stands the test of time and is passed from one generation to another. Customers recall childhood summers spent with the extended family under one roof. Happy times surrounded by happy furniture building great memories.” Maine Cottage’s investment in whimsy and memories differentiates it from competitors.

Theologian Henri Nouwen reminds us: “Joy doesn’t simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” In my emotional branding work with clients, I’ve found that JOY is not only a choice, it’s a necessary ingredient and a tangible brand differentiator available to all. We must choose JOY.

So, just how much JOY is sprinkled in your work these days? Might you benefit from becoming a chief JOY officer? What do you need to do differently to fill your days and those around you with more joy?

Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of a joy-full creative branding and merchandising consultancy, IER Partners. Andrea has 20-plus years experience providing clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: “ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators,” and “BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants.”

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