Sometimes, I find entrepreneurs are more interested in corporate culture than branding, until I tell them it’s the same. Then, they become motivated to bring branding in at an earlier stage. While most people who are not in the business of branding assume that branding is closely tied to marketing, the truth is that the company culture is basically the same as the brand. Or at least, company culture is a very close application of the brand fundamentals.
Here are five fundamental insights to help you use a strong, differentiated, internal company culture to build a bigger competitive future.
1. Make your people feel free. When your people feel free within, yet at the same time personally dependent on, your company culture, they will never want to leave you for another job, not even for a better paid one. You should offer a top, attractive workplace that they can be proud of.
2. Create a surprising and unexpected culture. The surprising experiences spring out of the founder’s personal, authentic, crazy ideas or views on life. The purpose is to make it different from other workplaces. Working for a company that dares to be different makes you feel different, and that is the whole point. People today can do a job similar to other jobs, and live a life similar to other people’s lives, but if they work in a place with a strong and different culture, they will feel different.
3. Keep the feeling of difference alive. Ritual events led by the founders, like Jack Ma’s annual ‘mass weddings’, make the people who work for that founder feel personally connected. And that perceived closeness, or identification, is the backbone of a strong company culture.
4. Build a strong company brand and culture for no other reason than to make it an attractive place to work. If the brand attracts people who want to work with you, the salary level is secondary, the career possibilities are secondary, even work satisfaction is secondary. Being a cool place to work, with a strong internal culture, holds great value for branding and marketing the company and its products in today’s relation branding context.
5. Start or strengthen your culture with a good ‘why’. As Simon Sinek put it in his book Start With Why, ‘Any organization can explain what it does, some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why ’. The biggest mistake a leader can make is to tell us that we should work to achieve revenue, or a profit. The why, the reason, is not money or profit. Money and profit are the results. You need to know your ‘noble cause’ – why your organization exists and why your project is important.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Thomas Gad, excerpted from his book Customer Experience Branding, with permission from Kogan Page publishing.
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