At first glance, company culture may not seem very important to your brand. It’s easy to confuse company culture as an internal factor, something your customers won’t be concerned with. This impression couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In reality, company culture is arguably the most important element of your brand.
Think about it: we all know a company that hires celebrities like LeBron James or Beyonce to serve as brand ambassadors. That’s all well and good, but savvy companies will know that the best brand ambassadors are your employees.
There’s a famous story about John F. Kennedy and NASA that illustrates this point. According to the urban legend, JFK was visiting NASA’s headquarters in 1961 for the first time. At some point in the visit, he stopped to shake hands with a janitor, asking what he did for the organization. With pride, the janitor responded that he was helping to put a man on the moon.
If your culture promotes the belief that you’re doing something groundbreaking and important, then every employee from top to bottom will be an incredible brand ambassador — even your janitors.
The internet is only amplifying these messages, making brands more transparent than ever before. A quick Google search can yield stories about what it’s like to work for nearly any company, whether it’s Amazon or a pizza place down the street. Unhappy or uninspired co-workers will only damage your reputation, while enthusiastic employees will spread excitement like a wildfire. For example, Starbucks is known for treating its employees well, which only serves to improve their reputation as a whole.
It goes beyond brand ambassadors, too. Brands are crafted and carefully maintained by employees. If your employees believe that they’re a part of a unique organization that makes the world a better place, you can bet your branding will reflect that passion. Of course, you can try to fake passion, but it will never be quite the same. Today Millennials are more in-tune with authenticity than any generation before them, further emphasizing the importance of a genuinely positive culture.
Building a strong company culture is no easy feat, but we’ll wrap up with two simple and effective tips: start early and make a genuine effort.
Growth is the goal for any company, but the larger you are, the harder it is to change your culture. Old habits die hard, and changing the culture of a 10-person company at a single location is much easier than an 100-person company at multiple locations. Your best bet is to build a solid culture from the ground up.
Building a strong culture starts with genuine effort. It’s hard work, no doubt, but that’s better than corporate events that are the butt of everyone’s jokes. If your idea of a Halloween party is watered down cider from concentrate in the break room, then your efforts are actually hurting your culture, not helping. Go big or go home — your employees will follow your lead.