Is there a difference between a company’s culture and a company’s brand?
The honest answer? Not really.
There are a few ways of thinking about this, but let’s talk about the perspective we have at Drive. This is the perspective, in our humble opinion, that we believe will be the standard across industries. It’s how we help companies brand and rebrand themselves when they’re ready.
Think of your company as a living thing. Your employees are the lifeblood. They pump through the veins. They sell your product or service. They represent you. They advocate for you. They embody your message.
If the blood isn’t healthy, the company isn’t healthy. If the blood isn’t a match, the company dies.
All this is to say that if your employees don’t believe in your brand and the purpose your brand is promoting, they’re not likely to keep the brand healthy. And you keep your employees excited about the brand, message, and purpose by creating a strong culture that lives within the values of the brand as a whole.
What comes first: The brand or the culture?
Ah, the age-old, “chicken or the egg?” question.
Here’s the secret that everyone needs to understand: These things do not work in silos. Your culture and your brand are inexplicably intertwined and they should be treated as such when structuring them.
Why? Because your employees are the lifeblood of your brand.
Say you own an ice cream shop with the purpose to bring smiles and joy to the community, no matter what the cost. You have an employee who feels underappreciated, belittled, or just plain unhappy because of the culture of the ice cream shop. How do you think that employee is going to feel about your company’s mission? Are they going to represent you as you’d like to be represented — through smiles and positivity?
Chances are, no.
This is a simple explanation of a much larger practice, but the fundamentals are the same. If your company’s culture is not a direct reflection of your brand and your brand’s purpose, you’re going to run into a host of problems with employee turnover, satisfaction, and loyalty.
Great, so how do I get started?
So glad you asked!
First: Be honest and authentic.
Let’s revisit the ice cream example from earlier. The parlor wants to bring smiles and joy to the community, no matter what the cost.
That ice cream shop should be operating with this statement as their guiding light in every business and culture decision from now until the end of time. Why? Because if that’s who they say they are, that is who they must be.
There are no exceptions to this rule anymore. Social media is a powerful sword that can make or break your brand. If your culture and brand are not in-line with one another, expect to be exposed as quickly as you can say, “ice cream.”
Now, this sounds a little self-serving, and we’d like to address that. You have a business and you need it to be profitable. No one is saying that you need to think otherwise. However, if you operate under the impression that the most important thing to your business is only your bottom line, you’re going to find out how quickly people will turn on you.
Second: Give your brand a story that your employees and customers can get behind.
If you had to describe the essence of your company to someone, what would you say? Not the product you sell or the service you provide, but the driving force behind what you give to the world.
That’s your story.
Say it loud and say it proud. Stick to it. Build on it. Nurture it. Shape it. Understand it.
People understand stories. People latch onto stories. They’re inspired by and get emotional over a story. When you can cultivate your story, you’ll be able to connect on a subconscious level with your employees and customers alike.
Third: Do not use empty words, mission statements, or declarations of purpose.
This is a massive mistake that many businesses and companies make. They craft mission statements they do not intend on honoring and say words that are full of empty promise.
Do not be that type of company.
Honesty and authenticity are absolutely vital to growth. When you dismiss these things, you’re setting yourself up for crisis and destruction.
We don’t mean to be dramatic, but we’re incredibly passionate about building strong brands that are united with strong cultures. We’re passionate about seeing people succeed and we have the secret sauce necessary to foster that success. If you’re ready to take your brand up a notch, get in touch. We’ll be waiting.