Heather Yamada-Hosley

Program and project manager — Operations expert — Effective leader

The Best Brands I Discovered in 2013

In the last year, I greatly increased my following of the tech and start up industries. Through this I learned about a multitude of companies and even became a user for some of them. How brands develop and interact with their user communities is a personal interest of mine, so I read about, follow, and interact with many companies. In no particular order, here are the ones I feel were the best in terms of persona, customer service and interaction, and product.

As one of my most recent discoveries, Huckberry is a flash sale, members only site geared towards an urban male market who seek outdoorsy products. Featuring unique items for this market, Huckberry has bootstrapped their way into a niche but growing area. Honestly, many of the products are not specifically for men and I eagerly await the day they add a women’s line. With a blog that always features interesting content that is just a little bit out of the ordinary, Huckberry is quickly developing a top notch brand.

Like many, I prefer to know where the products I buy come from. Good Eggs is a perfect service for me to do just that because they work only with local vendors in each city. Good Eggs offers a vast variety of options, from prepared goodies to fresh produce, all sourced from local vendors. Right now, they offer limited but fairly cheap delivery if you live in San Francisco or Brooklyn and also have pick up locations in the surrounding areas. They are also piloting marketplaces in New Orleans and Los Angeles. I have had excellent customer support from them, which is another reason I recommend trying them out! When I had issues with their site processing my payment (I was trying to send a friend in SF a birthday gift) and the issue wasn’t resolved in time, their rep Kari made me extremely happy by sending flowers on their dime to my friend! They also have showed great follow up on any other questions I have had, even reminding me by email when the feature became available months after my initial inquiry. They also have a fantastic social media presence, including a stunning Instagram profile! Good Eggs is clearly a brand that values its users and strives to engage its community on a regular basis.

Trying to change the way we consume egg based products by replacing them with plant based products, Hampton Creek Foods is truly innovative in the way they use research and science to produce excellent products. And these products aren’t just for those with dietary restrictions, they’re also great for anyone looking to have a healthier lifestyle even if it is as simple as switching from traditional mayo to Just Mayo. As a consumer, I’m also looking forward to their cookie dough and ‘egg’ scramble products coming out in the next few years. Hampton Creek’s CEO Josh Tetrick is a fantastic speaker who has really done a great job of being the face of this brand as they push to grow their market.

Sourcing their materials and labor from within the United States, American Giant sets a high standard for other clothing manufacturers. Their rapid growth results in them being on back order for many items, but it is worth the wait! I ordered a sweatshirt for myself and another as a gift, the entire process was easy and communication was constant. In my experience, they deliver high quality items that feel well made and which stand up to extensive use. Their short, direct emails about special offers or product restocks show that they understand how to use email marketing effectively for their brand.

With several players in the ride sharing market, Lyft really stands out due to their strong community and user engagement with the brand. Besides the slick and easy to use app, Lyft as a whole exudes a friendly persona that fulfills their tagline of “Your friend with a car.” In addition, I have had many interactions with Lyft on Twitter and they always come through for me with a prompt reply even when I was asking for ride credit. I have recommended Lyft to many people and will continue to do. Quite simply, they have turned me into a brand advocate and voice for them.

An easy way to schedule the content you want to share on social media, Buffer revolutionized the way I consumed and spread content. In addition to having a great product that the Buffer team constantly works to improve, they have one of the best user support teams (dubbed Happiness Heroes) I have ever encountered! With impressively fast response times, cheerful attitudes, and thorough follow through, I have never come away from an interaction with them dissatisfied. I am also thoroughly impressed with the brand’s values and openness. Based on their history of transparent communication with the public and doing what they say they will, I trust Buffer to provide the best service they can for me and the rest of their user community.

Of course, I can’t leave out Medium! With extremely rapid growth in users, Medium has really shone as a platform for all types of writers and topics. Through Medium I have connected with many wonderful people, read a variety of excellent writing, and sparked stimulating conversations. With a calm, cool persona that matches the organized and clean feel of its product, Medium as a brand has an exciting future!

These are a few of the top notch brands I stumbled upon in 2013 and why they’re so fantastic. What brands did you find last year that you fell in love with? Let me know on Twitter!