Book Review | Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand

Chick-fil-A is one of my favorite companies to learn about. I try to read everything I can from any of their executives as it relates to leadership, customer service, marketing, and anything else. Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand by Steve Robinson, former Marketing Director of Chick-fil-A was a great opportunity to learn more about how some of the foundational things we enjoy about the company today were intentionally put in place. Robinson told several stories about times that Truett Cathy could have compromised on this or that and didn’t…and shared why he didn’t to ensure that the company knew the “why” behind the “what.” That’s why Chick-fil-A is still going strong even in the wake of Cathy’s death a few years ago.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • Culture is the fertile ground that helps to grow a brand.  A strong, clear, and understood culture sets up the growth of a great brand.  A weak, unclear culture will always lead to a weak brand. p. xviii
  • The dominant strategies and initiatives that have helped to make Chick-fil-A what and who it is today grew out of the culture established by Truett Cathey and are described by its brand essence: “Where good meets gracious.” p. xviii
  • Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose: To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A. p. 2
  • Raving Fan Strategy: executed Operational Excellence, delivered Second-Mile Service, and activated Emotional Connections Marketing. p. 3
  • “Conversion to Christ is the initial downbeat to an entire magnum opus, which God composes of our lives.”-Dr. Charles Swindoll, p. 21
  • I believe crisis does more than reveal and shape character–it is also a primary catalyst of learning and creativity.  Human nature drives us to be more proactive, sensitive learners when we’re in a crisis.  We’re more receptive to the counsel of others. p. 67
  • If you keep the customer first, and you figure out how to bring the voice of the customer to the leadership table, it’s not marketing’s opinion any more than it is leadership’s opinion. p. 87
  • In their proposal to earn the Chick-fil-A account, The Richards Group wrote: We believe that all our advertising should be endearing.  Rewarding. Relevant.  Our aim, when done, is to have the customer respond: “I like what you said”, “I like the way you said it”, “I like you”, “Let’s do business”. p. 112
  • In my opinion, three virtues apply to any advertising that is truly brand building.  The first is engaging.  Then it’s endearing.  And it’s enduring. p. 123
  • Core 4
    • Create eye contact
    • Share a smile
    • Speak with an enthusiastic tone
    • Stay connected to make it personal p. 157

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