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Alfred Lin: branding happiness

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By LESLIE MLADINICH SAN FRANCISCO -- Figuring out your company's culture and deciding when it's necessary to change are two key steps to building a successful company and keeping it alive with a strong brand, said Alfred Lin, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Zappos, arguably one of the best branding companies to use the Internet as its sales door. At the Real Estate Connect conference on Thursday, Lin outlined many steps and values that all companies -- whether it's shoes or real estate -- should follow. With a culture focused on building a dream team of visionaries, scientists and artists, and where customers are happy because the employees are happy, Zappos's success has been largely driven by repeat customers. Customers will make 10 million Zappos purchases a month, and repeat customers will make 2.5 more purchases in the next 12 months. Even with these proven methods and going from zero profits in 1999 to $1 billion last year, Zappos has been and...