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Music as a communications tool? Yes, people relate to what’s “good for our soul”

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

Is your brand thinking about innovative ways to communicate and connect with your audiences? Robin Tooms interviews Steve Lufburrow, President and CEO, Goodwill Houston to discuss how Goodwill has used music, and music partnerships, as a powerful communications tool.

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

Steve: Thank you, Robin. I appreciate it. I love this show.

Robin: Oh, well I’m so glad to hear that. I love talking brand and marketing with you because you’re a non-profit organization that’s really been innovative over the years with its brand and marketing. And one thing that’s really cool about what you’re doing now is looking at music as a form of communication. So, you started some partnerships there, so can you tell me why has that been so, worked out so well for you?

Steve: You know, first off I love music. I’m a musician, I’ve been playing music all my life, and I love music. And so, and you know, my dad loved music and people just love music, and you can connect to music. And so we decided, let’s start going after our brand and putting something fun that Goodwill’s never done before, and that would be music, and so we have some great examples of that.

Robin: So, like for example, what would be a great way that someone might see this?

Steve: Well, I’ll give one example I’m really proud of: Beyonce. When Beyonce was on her world tour a couple years ago, the Goodwill national office in Washington DC called Houston, said since you’re Beyonce’s hometown, would you all kick this thing off? And so we did and so here’s the coolest part: not only were we tied in with Beyonce’s music – I did get to go to the concert; amazing, by the way. You wouldn’t think it would be for me, but it was great; I loved it. My wife and I got to go. But I was on the screen as the representative for Goodwill, with Beyonce and her mother before every show across the country. I was that famous for about 3 seconds, and nobody remembers, but I do because music is good for our soul.

Robin: Well, and that’s kind of a good point. I mean, obviously, with it meaning something personal to you, but music can connect in an emotional way that I think people just need to leverage more. So has that, has that fed into some of the decisions in terms of that emotional tie that someone has when you think about your brand and what you want to be associated with?

Steve: Well, I think it does and I think anytime that you can put something that people relate to, other than your organization, together with your organization, it kind of hits that sweet spot. It just feels good and everybody likes that. So, last year we had a partnership with Kristian Bush with Sugarland, and I’ll never forget when I got the call from Goodwill Industries International. They said ‘Would you be able to host this and kick off this guy named Kristian Bush?’ Well, I’d heard of Sugarland, and I’d heard of Jennifer Nettles, but I’d never heard of Kristian Bush. And so, next thing I know, Kristian Bush is in my office; he is down to earth, warm; he’s playing a concert for the people of Goodwill.

They put on a concert for Houston, benefitting Goodwill, and he’s been doing it all over the country, and people relate to it. He did a song that was so cool; it’s called Give it Away, and the song, it’s called Trailer Hitch; ‘you can’t take it with you when you die.’ And it’s really a great song. It hit the number 20 or something in the country charts; because of Goodwill. That’s a pretty good brand.

Robin: That is a pretty good brand and what a great connection and a way to tie it all back in together. And I did remember seeing some social media tied into that as well.

Steve: Absolutely. We’re big on social media. We think that’s important too. We’ve got to hit all generations.

Robin: Well this is perfect. Well, thanks so much for sharing that, Steve. This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an 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.