I am the world’s biggest evangelist for my insurance company. Every chance I get, I tell people how great they are. It’s the kind of fantastic word-of-mouth that every company dreams of. So what did they do to deserve it?

A couple of years ago a tremendous storm knocked down trees and power lines all through my New Jersey town. (Is it just me or are these “storms-of-the-century” happening every few months now?) I grabbed my kids and my laptop and fled to my sister’s house in Virginia to wait out the disruption somewhere light and warm with working outlets. A week later when the power on my street was finally restored, I drove back to my house, rolled up my sleeves and spent two hours throwing away everything in my refrigerator and freezer.

At work the next day, a colleague mentioned that insurance companies often reimburse for spoiled food in the event of a power outage. I gave my company a call. The woman on the other end of the line asked me a couple of quick questions about the storm, then asked me for the value of the lost food. Not wanting to be unreasonable, I guessed about $350.

“Okay,” she said. “I see we have your bank routing information here in your profile. I’m making the transfer now.”

Within five minutes of punching in the phone number, the money was in my bank account and my loss was covered.

For the record, my insurance company is USAA.

This – and a lot of other interactions like this over the 30+ years I’ve been with USAA – is what they did to deserve my forever fantastic word-of-mouth. Every single time I have a conversation with them, I come away thinking how much I love this company. Every. Single. Time. The value they provide to me in the form of fantastic personal customer service and caring, involved personnel is irreplaceable and priceless.

That’s also why for me, it doesn’t matter how much they advertise, what color or size or style logo they have, how active they are on Twitter or Facebook or if their website graphics look contemporary or dated. It’s not their marketing I love – it’s the company.

The lesson here is so clear. Your marketing is not your brand. You are your brand, your employees are your brand and every action taken by your company is your brand. If you want to stand for something positive, you have to live it. No matter how many motivational posters you put up on the walls, how many focus-tested ads you run on appropriately targeted media or how many cool apps and events you create and take viral, if you’re not living the attributes you want to represent, the best way to a customer’s heart – and wallet – is through your interactions with customers.

Now go call USAA and give them all your business. Really. I couldn’t recommend them more highly.