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Is it time for a brand refresh? Look at the purpose of who you are, who you serve and your future.

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

Do brands—even innovative ones—need updating? Can a good brand really get stuck with an outdated perception? Steve Lufburrow, President and CEO, Goodwill Houston answers all in his interview with Robin Tooms.

Robin: Hello and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I’m Robin Tooms, VP of Strategy at Savage Brands, and my guest again today is Steve Lufburrow, President and CEO of Goodwill Houston. So Steve, I’m so glad you are back on Brandonomics

Steve: Thanks for having me. I love sharing the story of Goodwill.

Robin: Well, I love what you’ve done with the Goodwill Houston brand over the years. So I want to talk branding.

Steve: Good

Robin: So from that perspective, you guys have a great reputation, and you’ve always been very innovative with the brand and marketing. I’m curious how your approach to that has changed over the years.

Steve: Well it’s changed in a big way because what I’ve found in my career is that most people know the name and they know we stand for something good, but they don’t really know what we do.

Robin: Ok

Steve: They know that we have stores and they know that you can donate things, but they don’t know why. And the real purpose of why I went into the business is to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. That’s the coolest part about Goodwill. And one of the things, it’s a big long answer to a really short question, but we used to be over on Jensen Drive, for about 30 years, Good will was over on Jensen Drive, we had twenty two acres, beautiful facility. We had the best house on the street. We loved our neighborhood, and we loved our neighbors. But we outgrew the campus. We didn’t need all that space anymore. We changed our business model. And so we needed to get out of Jensen, sell it. And the reason is this, because we were beginning to get stereo-typed as an organization for the 5th ward. But we’re an organization for everyone, disability, joblessness crosses all boundaries, crosses all income groups.

It’s for everyone. And so now we’re located on a freeway, which is part of our brand, so the people will see us as a part of everyday. The other side of it is you’ll notice our stores and our collection parts are in different places now. We want to be in your neighborhood. We think that’s important for you as a donor, but it’s also for you as a shopper. And as a result of that we have a new customer. Finally, a few years ago it really hit me. This generation of people know about what we do, but the know about our stores, so let’s begin to put our donation centers, stores and job connection mission services all in one place. And so, my generation may miss it. But my kid’s kids, they’re not going to miss it. That’s how they’ll know Goodwill from day one. That we do something good with jobs if you donate and shop.

Robin: Yes, seeing it all together in one place.

Steve: That was a major brand change for us. And it’s working. We like it a lot.

Robin: Well, I like it. It’s this idea of having the environment reflect the true purpose and mission of the brand.

Steve: Exactly, and what we found is the past is the only time people really understood what Goodwill did is when they had something that hit their life – a disability, an accident, a health issue, you name it, then they needed Goodwill. But before that, they didn’t know. So, what we want to do now is let people know, before they ever need us. And hopefully they never will. But we are here for that group of people. That will need Goodwill now and forever.

Robin: Well thank you for sharing that approach. Appreciate that. This has been another edition of Brandonomics. And inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


Through nine job connection service centers and many grant-funded programs, Goodwill Houston provides job training and placement services to people with barriers to employment. This includes veterans, older workers, youth, the formerly incarcerated and, of course, individuals with disabilities. Whether you donate your gently used items, shop at our stores, volunteer your time, or give through our various fundraising activities and events, your generosity helps change a life.

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If you’re interested in knowing more about how purposeful companies attract the best employees, build loyal relationships with their customers, and differentiate themselves from their competition, then let’s start a conversation.