Building Brand Culture
How to Leverage Your Brand for Maximum Impact
Part II – Building Brand Culture
The first article in this series titled Brand Culture took a look at what brand culture is and the benefits of utilizing it to reinforce your mission and deepen customer confidence. Part II explores methods for driving your brand culture deep within your organization so that it becomes synonymous with how you do business.
After clarifying your brand essence, you’ll have a solid idea of what value your customers should expect to receive from your brand, as well as the sort of qualities you’ll need from your internal teams to be able convey these values and implement best practices to serve your clientele. The more deep-rooted your brand becomes in your working modes, the more reliable your message, leading to more loyal customer relationships.
Corporate culture relies on an individual’s commitment to convey the virtues and mission of the organization.
In Part I, we talked about how it isn’t the strategy that informs the mindset, but rather the mindset that builds the strategy. When you share your company goals, successes and failures, incentivize efforts, and hire individuals with shared values, you gain team members who are mutually- involved and accountable, converging toward the fulfillment of those goals.
Peter Drucker, Peter Senge, and Jim Collins all cite corporate culture as a key contributor to long-term success. In his book “How the Mighty Fail,” Collins suggests that weak or underdeveloped corporate cultures is one of the main causes of failure in many companies. Conversely, he shares that a strong culture often prevents great companies from suffering through extended downturns.
Most companies fail at creating and implementing a strong brand culture, in part, because:
- They’re not committed to it on a company-wide basis;
- Many CEO’s consider it some sort of touchy-feely esoteric thing that has nothing to do with profits;
- They believe it’s about advertising and merely relegate it to the marketing department;
- They don’t take the time to identify the essence of their brand;
- They focus on short-term gains and don’t take the time and energy to develop it;
- It’s not applied consistently.
Richard Branson, one of the most loved, hands-on brand ambassadors today has said:
“Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” - Sir Richard Branson, CEO Virgin
This CEO of mega-successful Virgin is big on tweeting, takes a stand on important issues, and even lets his hair down in public. He’s human and accessible, and people love that!
So, what’s the first step?
Get your CEO’s and team members on board and develop your organization’s Brand Essence! Strong branding begins at the top and makes its way all the way down. It isn’t half-hearted, but rather an all-or-nothing proposition. Successful brands like Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Amazon and Zappo’s understand that branding starts at the core and permeates all divisions and channels of their organizations.
What follows are a few methods that successful companies have used to develop their brand essence into a corporate culture.
Create a list of top attributes and goals and share it with your organization.
The absence of clearly-defined goals leads to a lack of understanding about how to prioritize the steps needed to succeed. When individuals merely become drones acting out duties with ill-understood parameters, there’s little room for creative energy toward problem-solving, especially if there’s no reward at the end. There’s nothing like attaining a goal and knowing that you’ve made an impact. Once you empower individuals to become part of the solution, they become your best brand ambassadors because they are personally invested in your company’s success.
Drive Leadership and Participation
Most humans thrive on achievement and wish to be passionately engaged. Help your team by giving them the right tools to get the job done, as well as opportunities to succeed. Encourage a symbiotic relationship between the company brand and their own personal values. Communicate clearly about your brand mission, ask for feedback regularly, and give incentives for ideas that bring the workplace into alignment. It’s a win-win!
Live & Breathe Brand Values
Bring life to your brand by living and breathing your values and philosophies beyond the boardroom. Don’t just list your company’s values in a slideshow; find opportunities to bring them to life in people, products, spaces, at events, and in communications. Genuine beliefs that are modeled throughout the organization daily give structure to your brand and helps your team carry it out. If you want your company to embody the culture, empower people and ensure every department understands what’s expected.
Celebrate Success and Failures
Your brand culture is a living, breathing entity that needs nourishment to flourish. If success is treated as commonplace, people will lose the impetus to drive toward the next one. A success for the company is also a personal success for the individual; likewise, failures have the potential to affect your entire company, so making everyone aware of what didn’t work is the best possible learning tool. Celebrating both victories and failures in your own unique way strengthens your team.
Summing It Up
If you continually look for ways to create your own thumbprint by keeping track of what works and eliminating what doesn’t, your brand culture will be entirely unique to your organization, which is why no other company will ever be able to replicate it.
Every organization has the ability to build a strong culture – it doesn’t have to be complex, you just need to be committed. Even if you’re a small company, there’s no reason you can’t implement big goals and practices, especially if this is where you’re headed – a sole proprietor has the same opportunity to create a lasting brand as any Fortune 500.
I’ll end with this quote by George Bradt, managing director of Prime Genesis, author, prior line manager at Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and former chief executive at J.D.Power’s Power Information Network:
“Corporate culture…[is] the only truly sustainable competitive advantage… Given enough time and money, your competitors can duplicate almost everything you’ve got working for you.” “They can hire away some of your best people. They can reverse engineer your processes. The only thing they can’t duplicate is your culture.” (Forbes article, February 8, 2012)
The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by Prime Genesis
All the best,
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