Brand culture in modern business is everything. It’s our life. It’s the identity. It’s a part of who we are.
What’s your company culture like?
Employee experience will affect the brand’s customer experience. Basically it will determine its success. Having a healthy working environment motivated by what a brand stands for, helps a business thrive. It will motivate the employees and retain clients. Clients notice.
But how do you get to this brand life?
I define culture as the “collective behaviours and beliefs of a group of people”. Whether you can define it clearly or not you will have a business culture. Most ‘cultures’ come into existence unconsciously - organically. At least initially. Cultures grow on the whim of founders or individuals within teams with little or no strategy involved. Most of the time this type of culture doesn’t work.
I’m a big fan of a methodical approach. The creation of a culture method which is authentic and unique. A culture that enhances the brand and customer experience.
Companies who take this approach find that culture can become an important leadership tool which, when nurtured, helps their business to thrive.
Having recently been working with my last company on their brand culture and using design thinking to help launch new projects I thought I’d share a overview of how you can set-up a culture programme for your brand.
︎ Discover what matters
A brand is a lot more than the products or service you sell. Your brand is what you stand for.
In a world where people are constantly looking for connections, it’s crucial for companies to give their employees and customers something that they can relate and believe to.
It’s tempting to think of your brand value proposition as a bragging opportunity, but there’s more to a company’s ideals than a list of powerful words and phrases. Your brand values definition has to mean something if you want to give it power.
When you ask yourself “What are my brand values?” you need to think about what truly matters not only to you, but your co-workers, shareholders, investors, and customers too. The best brand value examples work because they’re reflective of customer ideology, but they still embrace the passions of the business in question.
︎ Align Leadership
Point all the leaders in the same direction. I have found the best way is for them to invest their time on working in the business - to working on the business. The first and most important thing to appreciate is that branding, culture and vision starts at the top with the decision-makers and leaders. Therefore it is key that whatever you decide it has the sponsorship of your leadership team. The leaders need to take time to align on the high-level elements of brand strategy (goals - values - methods).
Your brand strategy positioning statements, values and behaviours need documenting and launching into the organisation. Everyone needs to be aware and accountable to them.
However, they should not be simply words. They need to be lived. Evidenced. Your values and behaviours should be used in your culture building. Leadership and decision-makers need to be an example for the team.
︎ Identify your key culture activities
Always moving and evolving. The next step is to determine which cultural activities and initiatives that already exist within the business and which ones may need to be created. Do you have any gaps? Come up with new ideas/projects that match to your values and behaviours.
An activity is a habit, reward and reminder. They can be social, “green” or work-related but are sponsored by the brand. Each one should connect to at least one value. Culture activities are there to help people build relationships, break down siloed behaviour and grow with the brand.
They create an employee experience which would be otherwise not available to your staff.
︎ Create a framework
A framework helps to explain how culture activity connects to your values and see the progress you make. It’s a device which helps to put everything in a logical place. Leadership can use it to remind themselves and the team that the company does indeed live by its values and behaviours.
Thinking in different horizons prompts you to go beyond the usual focus of fixing innovation just in the present. It connects the present with the desired future and identifies the ‘seen’ disruptions which might occur in moving towards a vision.
︎ Set targets & Assign responsabilities
It’s important create a document explaining which initiatives will be live when and how you intend to get them live. Keep the business updated with how it’s going, which activities are available to them. One way is to ensure that responsibility for each culture initiative is given to a colleague and that they find a deputy. It will be their job to set up the initiative and invite their colleagues.
Ensure that you launch your Culture Programme into the business. Think about a event. Do it with storytelling. Excitement. Passion. Present your culture. Explain you are launching it to help the brand live into its brand values. To create a positive environment which allows people to build relationships, innovate, collaborate and communicate together.
Who would not want to hear this from their leaders?
︎ Communicate & Innovate
Run a staff questionnaire and ask for ideas. Innovate. If an initiative is not well attended, find out why. It’s ok to close it down if it is not well attended. Activities must create value for employees. If an activity is well-attended think about increasing its frequency.
Ensure that leaders attend activities.
It’s also important that the internal communication constantly report out how the initiatives are going. This constant celebration of the company culture helps to breed positivity and awareness of the great customer experience your business is offering which would otherwise be not accessible to your people.
So here few steps to design you brand culture. It would be run by employees but sponsored by leadership. It would use your company values and behaviours as a leadership tool to create positive employee experiences which in turn will create powerful customer experiences. Nothing happen by accident.