Creating a world-class brand culture: how to get it right
Brand culture is what courses through your brand’s DNA. It's all about the brand experiences, brand identity, brand promise, and brand values that drive your company and positively differentiate you from your competition.
Think of an organisation’s culture as its moral compass. It includes everything from how a brand interacts with its employees and stakeholders to how it delivers impactful customer experiences to both existing and potential customers.
Strong brand culture is crucial to cultivating an appealing employer brand, strengthening team bonds, keeping staff engaged, and attracting new customers, regardless of whether you’re launching a new business, undergoing a rebrand, or revitalising your brand image. A strong company culture can help differentiate your business, boost brand awareness, and connect you with customers, ensuring long-term commitment.
Great brand culture is integral to a company’s success, and today, we’ll discuss how to create a B2C and B2B cultural branding strategy that builds brand equity and enables success. Let’s get started.
What is brand culture?
Organisational culture refers to how a brand is infused across all levels of an organisation. Instead of being something that is reflected only outwardly to customers, it is something that is built internally. A successful culture requires everyone’s involvement.
In essence, company culture is the DNA of your company. From your social media interactions to your brand guidelines and hiring procedures, it’s woven into every aspect of your brand management.
An effective brand culture aligns everyone with the brand’s vision and values, making it easier for companies to highlight their purpose and use it as a guide for their day-to-day operations. In other words, it’s all about connecting the company’s values to the image it presents to the outside world. It’s something everyone shares and upholds together.
You can think of it as a shared set of values, beliefs, experiences, and material traits between employees and society. Your company’s culture should be the driving force behind employee motivation, and target consumers should identify with the values that your company represents.
Why do companies need brand culture?
We won’t beat around the bush here – all brands can benefit from company culture. It’s a key relationship between a company and its employees that unites them around core values and motivates them to achieve shared goals. Essentially, it’s the glue that holds your people and processes together.
Many job seekers today place a high priority on culture fit. Wouldn’t you like to work 40 hours a week with people you love in a place you enjoy coming to? As potential employees increasingly seek out companies that align with their values, it’s vital for brands to cultivate cultures that appeal to, resonate with, and connect them with their target audience – in terms of both employees and customers.
Creating a strong organisational culture strengthens not only your team’s sense of purpose but also strengthens your relationship with customers. A brand culture that matches the values and expectations of your target audience is more likely to attract repeat customers and drive long-term commitment and loyalty.
The more employees feel their employers care about their well-being, the higher their morale and the lower their turnover. Worldwide, employees have been conditioned to believe that businesses care more about their bottom line than they do about their employees, which creates less loyalty and distrust between workers and management. Successful companies eliminate that barrier by creating a strong culture.
The benefits of a good brand culture
There are countless benefits of brand culture. The right culture drives customer advocacy, attracts talent, and forges key alliances for companies. It can also help you:
- Enhance motivation. An effective brand culture creates an environment where people want to work for you and contribute to your success. A strong brand culture is often essential for attracting top talent to your company and can help ensure that your employees are enthusiastic about their work.
- Drive brand loyalty. Your company culture isn’t just for your employees – it can also help you connect with a loyal customer base. You’ll find that more people will be willing to engage with your organisation if its culture it’s appealing and authentic. In a study by 5WPR, around 83% of millennials wish to align their values with those of their employers. So, calling all business owners – keep this in mind when defining the culture of your companies.
- Forge partnerships with like-minded people. An invaluable advantage of organisational culture is its ability to attract like-minded individuals – potential customers, investors, shareholders, or employees. The more you demonstrate your company’s values, the more you encourage brand engagement, which ultimately produces long-term commitment.
- Boost authenticity. It’s important for modern brands to differentiate themselves in a way that matters to their target audiences. 90% of customers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands to like and support, according to Stackla data (via SocialMediaToday). A company’s authenticity isn’t just crucial to winning customers, it’s also crucial to retaining them.
- Secure brand equity. A well-balanced culture encourages employees and team members to interact strategically and emotionally with brand operations and initiatives, making it easier for companies to become industry leaders.
How to build brand culture in the workplace?
From small businesses to global corporations, a well-established and effective organisational culture is extremely beneficial. The truth is simple – your company is more likely to succeed if everyone shares the same values and goals.
Creating a strong brand culture takes time and effort, much like the efforts that go into external branding. These steps will provide you with the initial guidance you need to build your brand culture:
1. Define the culture of your brand.
Business owners or CEOs are usually the ones who kickstart the process. After all, they’re the one who needs to be the brand’s biggest advocate, who will define the brand’s values and share them through carefully selected campaigns and activities. Strong brands are created with a clear meaning, attitude and promise that are clearly communicated both within the company and to the outside world.
Start by sitting down with your team and determining what the most critical elements of your company identity should be. Your vision can then be turned into a plan that you can implement.
Without knowing what your company stands for, you can’t build a company culture. Defining your unique selling proposition, vision statement, and business fundamentals in a unique set of brand guidelines is essential to building and maintaining a strong brand culture.
It is imperative to formulate and document brand guidelines that will guide marketing and sales staff, and designers at every stage of the process.
2. Team up with the right people and engage your employees.
If you want to hire people who embody the traits of your brand, give your hiring managers and HR department clear guidelines they can follow when choosing new employees. As a result, you will be able to find and recruit people who share the same goals as the brand. Keep diversity and inclusion in mind when recruiting – you still want to gain perspectives from various backgrounds.
3. Provide brand training.
Developing a flourishing culture requires employees to understand and incorporate it fully into their daily routines. Internal training can help.
Consult your brand guidelines to ensure your employees are following your expectations. After you determine what training is needed, identify ambassadors who can guide the rest of the team. These individuals can inspire your staff, and encourage them to become brand advocates and ambassadors. Ensure one-to-one training is available so that any questions or uncertainties can be discussed, answered, and turned into understanding.
4. Spread the word and unify your brand elements.
Make use of your brand assets to showcase your culture and embed it into your content creation. Internal and external, visual branding and communications provide wonderful opportunities to show what you’re all about. To ensure that your language, personality, and culture match, dive deep into your brand assets, such as logos, typefaces, colours, and taglines. If you’re in the process of redefining your culture, it could be the case that you need to undergo a visual rebrand. This will ensure that all brand elements are cohesive.
Give your employees the tools they need to become online brand ambassadors and encourage them to be active on social media. Your employees can also use social media – especially LinkedIn – to contribute to your brand’s image by actively sharing their thoughts.
Keep your brand culture consistent with the promises you’re making. An effective brand culture requires authenticity and consistency.
5. Embrace each individual who passionately shares their love of your brand. The key is consistency, not conformity.
It can take time for your company culture to become part of your team’s day-to-day operations. There will be some employees who will embrace the culture you want them to showcase easily – others may have difficulty understanding what they should do. Recognising and rewarding growth is a positive way to encourage it.
People who demonstrate the core values of your organisational culture should always be rewarded. You should recognise and highlight anyone on your team who embodies the culture you strive to develop. By doing this, you will help spread the word and encourage others to embrace your culture.
6. Create positive user experiences.
You should make every interaction with your customers a brand experience, whether answering the phone, responding to an email, posting on social media, or delivering a targeted message. Consider if your culture is centred around experience, you can:
- Introduce your brand to your customers by appearing on a podcast – or hosting you own.
- Provide customers with a chance to interact with your company and see your commitment to excellent customer service by hosting pop-up shops.
- Offering dedicated business apps, excellent customer service strategies, and a usand user-friendly design to ensure amazing customer experiences.
- Provide incentives and rewards to your customers. Make sure your associates can wear or use your products on a daily basis.
Brand culture in B2B
The first brands that come to mind when dealing with great corporate cultures tend to be B2C companies with high consumer visibility, such as Starbucks, Toms or Amazon.
B2B companies, however, which often fly under the radar, are just as important when it comes to organisational culture. A strong culture is a selling point for business decision-makers. The establishment of a strong culture and the sharing of it externally will attract the kind of business partners who will remain loyal over the long run.
A 2015 study conducted by Fortune Knowledge Group (via The Drum) emphasised the importance of corporate culture in maintaining good business relationships. According to the study, up to 59% of executives said that what a company stands for is more important than innovation or market dominance when selecting a partner.
Each day, decision-makers at companies make decisions about who they want to do business with. A business’s culture is likely to influence these decisions – like its customers and employees, it seeks to align itself with those with similar views.
Through partnerships, businesses become immersed in their corporate partners’ cultures. Similarly to B2C businesses, companies that adhere to their mission statements and show authenticity and passion are appealing to B2B customers. Having mutual benefits, being content with each other, and understanding each other are key. Relationships will endure as long as both partners see value in them, but you have to learn to understand one another and communicate regularly to keep it going.
As in B2C, social media can be used to communicate corporate culture, share values, and attract new business. As a result of social media, businesses are able to be human and sometimes even add a bit of humour to their cultures. It is common for B2B relationships to break due to a lack of trust and internal policies – a clearly articulated company culture can help maintain these bonds by reminding business partners of the human heart at the centre of your company.
Examples of different types of company culture
- Performance culture. Typically, these cultures are focused on sales and achievement and characterise an environment that is driven by targets, competition, and individual initiative. It is a culture of ambition, hard work, and relentlessness. The incentive and bonus system rewards the top performers directly at the expense of those who don’t excel as well. Businesses that are based on sales as well as professional firms can fall into this category.
- Clan culture. Consider startups or small, family-owned businesses. There is a “clan” mentality in these cultures, where everyone thinks and feels alike, and everyone works towards the same goal. There’s a strong focus on employee collaboration, teamwork and well-being. Companies with strong clan cultures are loyal and have a strong identity. Communication with them is likely to be informal and open. Unlike other companies, you won’t find many management levels here since employees are considered peers and family members.
- Adhocracy culture. Ad-hoc cultures are named after they tend to take risks to innovate and move quickly. It is this type of culture that is most characteristic of start-ups and tech companies, allowing them to create without too many barriers and be the first to market. There is usually a high level of energy and agility in this type of culture. Silicon Valley companies like Facebook, Google, etc. tend to have Adhocracy cultures.
- Purpose-driven-culture. A strong purpose drives these cultures. Founded on a shared belief, their culture attracts employees, customers, and partners who share the same values. Cultures like these tend to be more community-focused, collaborative, and charitable. Examples include Whole Foods, REI, and TOMS shoes.
- Market-driven-culture. Market-driven cultures are driven by getting to market. An organisation with this culture is highly competitive, results-oriented and hard-working. It is common for companies with market-driven cultures to focus less on employee satisfaction and experience, and more on performance and results. Tesla, Amazon, and Apple have this type of culture.
Need some help communicating your organisational culture?
As well as increasing margins, driving customer advocacy, and attracting the right talent, a strong brand culture helps businesses forge key alliances. The result is a cycle of growth and success for the brand, which in turn increases shareholder value.
You can learn a lot about your brand by knowing it. Whatever your market, a strong brand culture will boost your chances of success when combined with an effective brand strategy.
If you need a help connecting your brand strategy with your business goals to unleash your cultural behaviour – we’d love to help. We help brands define, curate, and unleash cultures driven by purpose, meaning, and values.