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Two practices of great brands: evolve to stay relevant, and celebrate important milestones

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

How does a brand stay strong, and relevant, over 70 years? Robin Tooms interviews Steve Lufburrow, President and CEO, Goodwill Houston to discover how the organization continuously builds upon its brand platform.

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 today is Steve Lufburrow, President and CEO of Goodwill Houston. So Steve, welcome to Brandonomics.

Steve: Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.

Robin: Well, I’m so glad you’re here. Goodwill Houston has been such a strong legacy here, and you’ve just celebrated your 70th anniversary as an organization.

Steve: We have. In fact, we’re in the process, all year long, we’re making it a birthday party, because, you know, there’s not a lot of organizations in our town that have been around for 70 years, doing good in our community, and I’m really proud to be associated with it.

Robin: Well that’s a huge milestone. How have you been using this as an opportunity to reflect upon how the brand has evolved over all those years?

Steve: Well, you know, our brand is constantly evolving, like any good company, but it’s really evolved in the last 10 years, which we can talk about, but we’re utilizing that in our 70th year. We have a great PR team at Goodwill as well, and what they’re doing is they’ve created a 70 year logo. So, everywhere we go we are branding it with that 70 year logo on all of our pieces and our newsletters and all those things. So, we’re taking advantage of it to let people know that we’ve been here for good; for a long time.

Robin: Well then in this case, how did that start? Like, what would be the first way someone would have heard of Goodwill 20, 30 years ago?

Steve: Well, the best way would have been my dad. Back in the 60s, when my dad was around, and I’m really a blessed guy that I’ve been able to follow in my father’s footsteps, and that normally doesn’t work well in the not-for-profit or the profit world, many times. Anybody that’s ever been a father and son knows what I’m talking about, but in our case it worked. He was my great friend; I think he would say the same about me, and Dad in the 60s, though, started taking advantage of the media; of the radio and tv, of getting the Goodwill brand out there, and talking to people every day about how Goodwill provides jobs for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. And to this day, people still remember my dad’s commercials. And dad died in 1986, and so he probably stopped doing spots in 1985. People still remember him, and I love that.

Robin: I love that too. Well, I’m a native Houstonian; I still remember the commercials and it was kind of my first introduction to the Goodwill brand, so I appreciate you sharing that.

Steve: You’re welcome. It’s important to me because what Dad did was change the image of what people thought Goodwill was, and he took it to a platform that allowed me to take it to a platform, which allows the next person, whoever that is, to continue to up the brand throughout the Houston market.

Robin: That brand is evolutionary as well. Ok, I appreciate you sharing that, Steve. Thank you. 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.