[The first part of this post is a recap of an awesome podcast by Shawn Achor, CEO of Aspirant and author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. You can check out the full podcast here.]

Happiness precedes success. It’s plain and simple. When your brain is happy, it significantly outperforms your brain when it is negative, neutral or stressed. Unfortunately, for many people, their workplace puts their brain in a negative, neutral or stressed state, creating roadblocks and hindrances to dealing with problems, challenges and tasks.

Among other things, a positive state of mind affects your energy level, how long you can work on a project, how many possibilities you see when working on a project and how well you perform on a task. A recent study put this theory to the test. When researchers primed one group of children with positive reinforcement before asking them to complete a block puzzle, the children in the “positive” group completed the task 50% more quickly than the control group that received no priming.

When it came to adults, researchers found that it is possible to rewire the much more quickly than they thought possible. When managers just increased their praise and recognition of one employee once a day for 21 business days in a row, six months later, those teams had a 31% higher level of productivity than the control group.

Praise doesn’t have to be monumental. Achor suggests something as simple as writing a 2 sentence gratitude e-mail each morning, or starting a meeting by writing down three things you’re thankful for can dramatically alter the way in which your brain processes the challenges your team is about to deal with.

So. How does this apply to brands?

If a little recognition from a supervisor can yield such positive results, imagine what being positively recognized and praised by your brand’s fans could do.

If you’ve seen Geno speak in the past year, you’ve probably heard the story of his MINI experience. If not, here you go. I’ve never owned a MINI, but every time I see one on the road, I feel a positive sentiment wash over me as I remember Lindsey, Geno’s MINI “Motoring Assistant,” and the way she made him feel throughout the process of bringing his new baby home.

Last weekend I visited a local Chipotle. When we asked for a to-go lid, the employees could have handed us a lid and sent us on our way. Instead, they sang a song about taking Chipotle home, using the lids as cymbals in their impromptu ditty. A typical experience was instantly transformed into something remarkable. We left smiling, and you better believe I was tweeting @chipotle_tweets to share the story (and say thanks) faster than you can say “burrito bowl.”

If you are looking for a way to make your brand better, start by making it easy for fans to recognize the people (read: your employees – who ARE the brand) creating remarkable and inspiring experiences, products and services. Make it even easier for your fans to share the stories of those remarkable experiences with others.

A little thanks, as it turns out, goes a long way.