This month we’ll focus on how to maintain a strong corporate culture during this time of pandemic, distancing, and learning new ways to work. To kick off this thought process, let’s focus on how important corporate culture is to the strength of a company’s brand.
When most people think about brand, they think about logos, colors, taglines, and messaging. Brand is also entwined with product and service offerings. For example, Coca Cola represents soft drinks, but it also represents good times, lifestyle, and fun. Disney represents movies and entertainment, but it also stands for family, rich experiences, and adventure.
It takes incredible discipline, commitment, and clarity. And the only way to deliver those characteristics — to create a strong, enduring brand — are to embody those characteristics in the people that make up the company. To ensure brand discipline, you must embed the brand in the culture and the culture in the brand.
To understand the relationship between culture and brand, it’s helpful to reflect on the definition of culture, or organizational culture to be more specific. Organizational Culture is the sum of the values and behaviors that create the social and psychological environment of a business. When organizational culture is intentional, it aligns employees with the strategy, the values of the organization, and with one another. And that kind of alignment leads to many powerful outcomes, including strategic success, revenue and profitability growth, employee satisfaction, employee retention . . . and brand value.
Culture should be documented, describing which behaviors and activities are in alignment with company values, and how those behaviors and activities are evidenced in the every-day life of individual employees, teams, departments, and disciplines. If a company’s business proposition and brand are concerned with customer-centricity, then the core values will likely be related to collaboration, service, and an ability to understand and relate to the goals and struggles of their customers. If a company’s business proposition and brand are concerned with cutting edge product development, then the core values may be more aligned with competitiveness, innovation, curiosity, and experimentation.
When a company goes beyond merely expressing its culture as a mission or values statement, and instead creates scenarios that explore how those values play out in every-day worklife, every member of the company is more likely to not only understand what the words mean, but also demonstrate the behaviors that align with those words.
So imagine how powerful it is when the people of a company are living breathing examples of its culture, and the culture is a core element of its brand. The employees become living, breathing examples of the brand. And that’s powerful brand discipline.