Your culture is your brand.
Normally when we talk about branding, we are thinking about the perceptions our customers have of our company, products and services. This is right, but not enough. It leaves out one very important constituency: your company team.
The perceptions and motivations of your staff are just as important as those of your customers. In fact, you can’t brand to the outside world without first branding on the inside. Because, the energy and passion your team brings to realizing your shared company vision directly impacts the customer experience.
Company Culture & Brand
What does it feel like to work at your company? Is it loud or quiet? Funny or serious? Are people excited to come in to work, or are they counting the hours until 5 pm Friday comes? Does your company merely make products or is it changing the world? Does your company live to make profits or to help people? Is there a sense of shared vision? If you asked every individual person why your company exists, would they all say the same thing? Would they be excited to talk about it, or bored? In other words, do you have a great culture story?
We're willing to bet that if you asked anyone what type of company they’d like to work for, they’d agree on the following description:
It’s clear then that how your team feels inside the company directly affects how your customers feel about your company, products and services. And, how your customers feel is what your brand is truly all about.
Syncing Culture & Brand
Your brand is the expression of your culture. If you have a dull, lifeless culture, your brand will follow suit. Similarly, if your culture is vivacious, gregarious and passionate, your brand will be too.
Of course, this isn’t automatic. Just because you have an energized internal culture doesn’t mean your brand identity – logo, typography, colors, imagery, packing, etc. – express that energy. Similarly, you might have the most fashion-forward and energetic look for your brand, courtesy of a high-priced design agency. But if your sales and customer service staff don’t reflect the same aesthetic and energy, and if your products and services don’t live up to the energy of your brand, then you’ll end up with a brand disconnect. In other words, the customer experience of your brand will not be consistent across all touch points. In this case, your graphics say one thing, but your people and offerings say another.
So while many, or perhaps most, companies start with external branding first, this is backwards. You need to start from the inside first, from your company’s very core, to craft your culture's story. Your brand will then extend from this foundation.