Drake’s Cakes: They’re online and on top

Just had a top-drawer customer experience that speaks to what we call building brand loyalty.

Drake’s Cakes makes packaged pastries, and when I was a kid in Pennsylvania, you begged your mom to put Drake’s — in my case, Yodels — in your lunchbox.  I don’t know what it is, but their products always tasted better than the "big" names.  Between Drake’s and TastyCakes [Philadelphia, I think], my store-bought sweets territory was covered.

Then we moved to Virginia, No Man’s Land for Drakes.  I never thought of asking my grandmother to ship them down to us.  And Mom was too busy asking her to send ricotta.  So if on a visit up north I came across Drake’s or TastyCakes in a grocery store, I would hoard them.  Long after, when I moved to Chicago, I would often find a care package of TastyCakes in the mail from my dad or my grandmother.

Last week I learned that a friend is in the hospital, and she loves Drake’s coffee cakes.  So I went online tonight to send her some.  I had a bit of trouble navigating the website.  I placed the order and it completed before I could enter the gift address.  I sent an emergency email, but then I decided to call the number on the website and leave a message, just to make sure someone called me from the east coast on Monday morning.

I got what I though was voicemail for the receptionist — a homey touch — and proceeded to leave my information.  But then, the phone picked up and I was talking with a guy named Rick.  At 1 am Long Island time.  Who explained that he had to run up to the front from the back, where they were loading orders on the truck.  I was stunned.  In a good way.

Rick found my order immediately, started looking for my email and then took the gift address manually.  We had a short but nice conversation, and I learned that Drake’s is seeking to build a national customer base, so everyone’s working hard to honor the online demand and respond quickly.

Besides being fun and heartwarming, this experience just made me happy to be doing the kind of work I do.  Whether it’s a startup or an established company, this is the kind of experience you cannot manufacture.  But it shows that management is "living" the brand strategy and integrating it with production.  And tonight’s experience proved that it is still possible to create the seamless link between strategy and execution.

The vignette with Rick is only something that comes from the intangible yet actionable motivation of an employee.  Rick sees a direct, cause-and-effect connection between Drake’s management strategy and his role in distributing product.  Obviously, this company is involving everyone inside with the goals it’s trying to achieve outside.  That’s where branding rubber hits the road.  And that’s why I do what I do.  Bravo, Drake’s.  And thank you, Rick!

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