The other night at a dinner attended by several business-owners and marketers, the subject of Walmart came up (see attached new logo). Right or wrong, the consensus by those at the dinner was that Walmart is a company that is unnecessarily tough on its suppliers. Many people around the table shared stories about suppliers who had worked with Walmart and were mistreated or had less-than-positive experiences.

There was one diner who disagree with the assessment. He said that the others were just taking pot-shots at Walmart simply because it was the big kahuna, the top dog, the #1 player.

That point-of-view — that Americans will take pot-shots the top-dog in any industry — has some validity. Americans do tend to build companies (and celebrities) up only to drag them down once they’re at the top.

That said, how do you explain Google and Starbucks? Both of those companies are large quasi-monopolies that, somehow, have maintained a high “like-ability” factor among consumers.

Part of the reason — and this is where Walmart could learn a thing or two — is that they consistently communicate a genuine sense of goodness in everything they do. They don’t just talk about being good citizens, they actually execute it from top to bottom.

Walmart, on the other hand, talks about being a good citizen, but then (according to my friends) mistreats their suppliers behind-the-scenes.

So there you have it. Once again, we learn a lesson about marketing from Google and Starbucks. And that lesson is that you can’t just talk about being a good citizen, you have to execute it throughout your entire organization.

Walmart should take note of Google and Starbucks. Both those organizations have maintained a monopolistic hold on their respective industries but have not suffered the indignity of people around a dinner table trashing their brand. Why? Because they execute that concept both publicly and behind-the-scenes. And that’s something we can all learn from.