BrandLove

A healthy company culture = stronger brand promise

why a solid company culture bolsters your brand

I recently had breakfast with a young professional who decided to hang up a shingle and go out on her own as a writer and content marketer. A millennial with big career goals, she left behind a great job with a director-level position at a well-known brand. The reason: the company was not living up to its brand or the inspirational values it promoted, particularly in how it treated employees. Business owners who want to build a stronger brand that is known and respected with their target audience need to take note. The health of your company culture shows up in how your brand is viewed in the marketplace. If your employees are not buying into the brand promise, chances are your customers won’t either.

A company’s brand strengthens when it is consistently represented across all touchpoints, inside and outside of an organization. Marketing (what you do) is really what builds the brand (what you are), and your employees are a critical target market that are often overlooked. Ever design a marketing campaign aimed at informing employees or designed for recruiting new ones?

This is not just about sharing the business strategy or sending out an internal newsletter highlighting a new marketing initiative. It’s about finding ways to activate the brand in the workplace and convince employees of the brand’s power and promise that your customers have come to expect.

“You can’t be special, distinctive, and compelling in the marketplace unless you create something special, distinctive, and compelling in the workplace. How does your brand shape your culture? How does your culture bring your brand to life?”  William C. Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company

A brand often becomes fragmented when employees sense that the leadership team are not living the company values. For example, if the front line does not trust the brand, it’s unlikely your customers will have great experiences. If operational staff aren’t aligned with company culture, they may cut corners, which shows up in product or service quality.

A brand often becomes fragmented when the leadership team are not living the company values. Click To Tweet

So how can you improve company culture to help build a compelling brand promise? Start with sharing a lofty purpose: What’s the difference you want to make in the world? Go back to why the company was built in the first place and revisit what motivated its founders to start the business.

six measures of a strong company culture

Once you’re clear on the big WHY?, consider these six components of a strong company culture noted by John Coleman in a Harvard Business Review article on organizational culture:

Vision

A foundation for the corporate culture. Imagine your company purpose (the why?) has been realized. What’s the vivid, aspirational view of the world when this happens?

Values

These are guidelines on behaviours and mindsets. Choose up to five and consider writing them as verbs so they are active and alive in the organization.

Practices

Your policies need to support certain behaviours and values. Ensure your team is empowered to enforce the desired outcomes.

People

Hiring people who share and want to exemplify the core values. Do you recruit and attract new hires with a focus on higher purpose and values? Are they truly on board?

Narrative

History, folklore and easy-to share anecdotes about the company. What’s your organization’s unique story and who can share it? Make sure your are passing along wisdom and insight from company founders.

Place

Aesthetics, architecture, virtual and in-person gatherings. Does the place you do business reflect your values? Let’s say your company values include ‘open communication’ but employees are constantly closed up with office doors shut, perhaps the work environment could use an overhaul.

Take the time to audit company culture across these six areas and see where there may be gaps. Better yet, ask a millennial on staff where they think culture is broken. Like my friend noted above, these young employees really care about the company’s foundation, and they’re the new ‘culture police’ you can enroll to keep the purpose and company culture at the forefront. Review each component of company culture and pull these ideas together into a story that can be shared within your organization. When your internal ‘customers’ believe the company culture is alive, it will resonate with your target audience.

“By weaving the brand messages into employees’ everyday experiences, managers can ensure that on-brand behavior becomes instinctive.” Selling the Brand Inside, Harvard Business Review

Linking company culture to the brand’s essence is imperative to creating a brand your customers and employees will love and respect. Their loyalty and positive word of mouth referrals are priceless and can help a company reach its wildest goals to grow and thrive.

Need help auditing your brand and igniting it within your company? Contact Seeds Consulting and get started today! We love working with purpose-driven brands.

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How to Act on Marketing Lessons Learned from a European Vacation

GOT THE POST-VACATION BLUES? THOSE FRESH IDEAS NEED ACTION.

Some down time along with change in scenery is a fabulous way to recharge and get the creative juices flowing. As a business owner or marketer on vacation, do you look for those trends, unique ideas and experiences that might cross over to your market? Have you taken some of these ideas and put them into practice? After a spring vacation in Europe, here are some ideas and lessons learned, fresh perspective that can only come from some time away from it all.

IDEA: PULL, DON’T PUSH YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER.

Service standards are quite different in European restaurants. They often pride themselves on exceptionally professional service that isn’t pushy or invasive. They keep a low profile but just seem to show up at the right time to let you know they are there to serve.

Lesson learned: Thoughtful, timely customer service is appreciated. Having a professional approach to each customer interaction goes a long way to creating a memorable experience. In the marketing world, this approach could be effectively delivered with the help of marketing automation tools that are strategically timed at different phases to move prospects into action.

IDEA: GO LOCAL. THIS TREND IS NOT GOING AWAY; IT’S ONLY GETTING STRONGER.

Wherever we went, our hosts were proud to feature local ingredients, give the insider’s scoop or make a special connection that took our vacation to the next level. They understand the importance of sharing their insider’s tips and they took care to highlight unique aspects of the region to give visitors plenty of experiences and reasons to return.

Lessons: What aspects of your product or service are home grown or only found in a specific place in the world? Can this cachet can be inserted into the brand story? If you do partner with makers from abroad, have you shared insight on why you chose to work with them and how you work together to deliver a one-of-a-kind product?

IDEA: ADD LITTLE TOUCHES THAT COMPLEMENT THE FEATURE PRODUCT OR SERVICE YOU’RE SELLING.

At the nicer restaurants, glasses of house-made limoncello and honey grappa appeared at our table after a big meal. These little shots of deliciousness also helped us digest and fondly remember the tasty nuances of the local cuisine.

Lessons: Being generous goes a long way. To help word-of-mouth promotion or customer loyalty, are there any small extras that might surprise & delight your customers? Without straying away from the core of your brand, where could you add a little touch to say thank you? A recent purchase I made for a photo album came with a pretty card from Artifact Uprising to express their gratitude and remind me of their satisfaction guarantee: a brand extension that strengthens their promise.

IDEA: SLOW DOWN TO ENJOY THE MOMENT.

Cobblestones and pedestrian-only streets forced us to chill, take in the ambiance and enjoy the scenery just a little bit longer. Meals were was savoured since servers bring courses at the right moment and never offer the bill unless the customer asks for it. Before making a purchase, we mulled things over and enjoyed the friendly, no pressure service.

Lessons: Don’t rush the sales cycle or customer service delivery unnecessarily. For many products and services, business owners underestimate the cost and time for the customer acquisition process. When customers have a chance to figure out their wants and needs or make a few comparisons, they’ll be more satisfied with their purchase. If a business is consistent with customer service and follow up, this will help to build a more loyal following and vocal brand advocates.

IDEA: PRIDE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Boutique hotels and apartments were spotless, decor was authentic, service was delivered by local staff who were proud of their heritage and keen to assist us. Instead of cluttered stores, retailers used effective merchandising to ensure a select group of products stood out. Clerks are trained to genuinely help customers meet their needs so they can avoid having to rummage through the racks.

Lessons: Does your brand stand behind your products or services with a guarantee? Do your employees exude pride when interacting with customers? Is there pride coming through in your voice through marketing campaigns and branding? Don’t be shy, give your targets plenty of reasons why your company is head and shoulders above the rest.

Still planning to hit the road this summer for some time away? Keep your eyes open and see where the trends, ideas and experiences might help to refresh a tired approach to marketing. Need some assistance to breathe new life into your company marketing plan? Contact Seeds Consulting and let’s cultivate new ideas to grow your business. While you’re at it, sign up for our newsletter to receive a free template for a marketing plan on a page.