One of my favorite things to do when I go into the city is to visit Di Bruno Bros. I can’t count the number of times that I walked past their door without going in. Something would draw me to their door, I would peek through the window and I would see what I thought was a tiny center city Philadelphia grocery store. And then I would keep walking. After all, I took the train in and didn’t have a cooler. How was I going to take fresh foods home with me?
One day, I had a little extra time and I decided I was going to open the door and walk in. I discovered what I had been missing. First of all, the store is L shaped and all I had been seeing through the window was the short end of the L. The store was huge! Second of all, the selection of cheese available was nothing short of amazing. Finally, I was welcomed into the store like a long lost cousin. Not surprisingly, I now frequently make time for a visit to Di Bruno’s.
Di Bruno’s is special. And it is not just the wonderful food. In fact, it’s really the people. At a recent moderated discussion hosted at St. Joseph’s University, Hunter Fike, a merchandising analyst with Di Bruno’s explained how he remembers coming to the store with his mother every week as a child. His abiding memory of those visits is that he felt like family when he was there. Therefore, it felt natural to him to approach the owners, Emilio Mignucci and Bill Mignucci, Jr., when he was in high school and ask for a job.
It turns out they didn’t really have an opening at that time. And yet, they hired him anyway. And all these years later he is still there and still feels like family.
So why did they hire Hunter when no jobs were available? As Bill explained: “We choose people over profits.” That being said, he then clarified, and “profits fuel great culture. You need both.”
Bill and Emilio understand that if you have your internal brand elements in place (mission, vision, values, company belief systems) and stay true to them, it’s easier to succeed. For Di Bruno’s a key part of the brand is:
- We are shopkeepers
- We are storytellers
These two short statements lead to customers feeling like an extended family. They also help define them as a destination location which limits their expansion possibilities. And that is fine with Bill and Emilio because they love the company and its brand.
What has made them successful and fueled their growth? It’s many things that they talked about over the course of the hour discussion. Frankly, too many to cover in a short blog. What truly matters is that at the center of all of their initiatives and efforts is a steely adherence to their brand.
Is your internal brand clearly defined? Do you share it with your employees? And are you strengthening your brand by staying true to it in all decision making?