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  • Writer's pictureRyan Grimshaw

Ignite Your Brand By Leveraging Your Culture

Last month, I attended a brand workshop aimed at start-ups and early-stage businesses. The advice given might have been useful 20 years ago, but it's not suited for today's competitive landscape.

It’s clear that we need a fresh perspective on aligning brand and culture.

During the workshop, participants were asked to select their business values from a long list of adjectives and verbs in a workbook. This simplistic approach misses the deeper need for a unique and powerful culture - we can't simply pick some words and play pretend.

A great organisation thrives on a distinct culture, not a borrowed one. Leaders must understand that a strong, differentiated company culture enhances a strong, differentiated brand.

The Power of a Unique Culture

A unique internal culture creates a unique external identity. Your employees need to understand and embrace how your company creates value, differentiates itself from competitors, and expresses its personality. Once your employees understand this, they can live and breathe it, interpret it, and reinforce these values themselves.

This empowerment isn't just about giving employees a list of values and expecting them to embody them. It requires deliberate efforts to embed these values into the everyday experiences of your team.

For example, if innovation is a core value, create an environment where new ideas are encouraged and tested. If customer service is important, make sure that every team member understands their role in delivering exceptional customer experiences and what they looks like, even if they don't directly interact with customers.

The Cost of Brand and Culture Misalignment

When your company's culture and brand don't align, you might have happy, productive employees, but they're likely not delivering the results you need.

Misalignment can lead to a host of issues, including decreased employee engagement, lower productivity, and a weakened brand presence.

Signs of Misalignment

Disconnect Between Employee and Customer Experiences

If your employees are not experiencing the same values and standards you expect them to deliver to customers, there's a gap that needs addressing.

Lack of Brand Engagement Among Employees

Your employees should be your brand ambassadors. If they don't understand or believe in your brand, this will reflect in their work and interactions with customers.

Inconsistent Brand Messaging Misalignment often results in mixed messages being communicated to the market, confusing your customers and diluting your brand.

I saw this firsthand at an international company that focused on operational efficiency. For decades, this approach helped them create and deliver an excellent product. However, as the market evolved and competition intensified, they found it hard to keep up. Competitors quickly encroached on their space, and with outdated processes and minimal digital knowledge, traditional methods like yard signs and flyers just didn’t cut it.

The company had to face a tough reality: the culture that had worked for 20-30 years was now a barrier to staying competitive, expanding market share, and maintaining a modern, appealing brand image. They needed a radical shift to realign their culture with their brand aspirations.

Benefits of Brand and Culture Alignment

A unified culture and brand drive operational efficiency, bridge organisational silos, and minimise disjointed initiatives. Employees know what to do and how to behave, aligned with the company’s vision. Your operations, finance, human resources, IT, sales, and marketing teams work towards the same goals, enhancing overall performance.

When everyone in the organisation understands and embraces the brand values, decision-making becomes faster and more consistent. We improve overall operational efficiency. Teams are aligned on what matters most, reducing friction and improving collaboration across departments.

A well-defined and authentic culture attracts like-minded individuals who resonate with your brand values. This not only helps in attracting top talent but also ensures higher retention rates as employees feel a stronger connection to the organisation.

Customers can sense when a company operates with integrity and authenticity. When your employees are genuinely engaged and aligned with the brand, it creates a more positive and consistent customer experience, generating loyalty and advocacy.

Steps to Align Brand and Culture

Articulate Your Brand Aspirations

Identify whether your brand aims for superior performance, disruption, or social impact. Clearly define what your brand stands for and the unique value it offers to customers. This involves not just setting lofty goals but understanding the core essence of what your brand means to your customers and stakeholders.

Develop Supporting Values

Cultivate a culture that supports your brand type. For performance brands, focus on achievement, excellence, and consistency. For socially responsible brands, double-down on a sense of purpose, commitment, and shared values. These values should not just be words on a wall but lived and breathed in every aspect of the organisation.

Integrate Culture Efforts

Use your brand’s vision, mission, and values to guide organisational design, leadership development, and employee experiences. This is as much about action as it is communication. Ensure every aspect of your operations reflects and reinforces your brand values.

Leadership Development

Train leaders to embody and promote the brand values in their management style. Leaders should be role models, demonstrating the behaviours and attitudes you want to see throughout the organisation.

Organisational Design

Structure your organisation in a way that supports your brand values. This might mean flattening hierarchies to promote innovation or creating cross-functional teams to enhance collaboration.

Employee Experiences

Design every experience in the employee journey - from recruitment to onboarding, development, and retention - to reflect your brand values. This ensures that employees experience the brand's essence every day.

The Path to a Competitive, Resilient, and Authentic Business

By linking internal operations with external perceptions, you can enhance efficiency, attract talent, boost customer loyalty, and move closer to your organisational vision. Aligning your brand and culture is essential for building a competitive, resilient, and authentic business.

Check out our brand, culture, and strategy workshops for expert advice and guidance on uniting your brand and culture. Reap the rewards of clarity with an empowered workforce and an aligned brand strategy.

Aligning your brand and culture isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity in today’s fast-paced, ultra-competitive world. When done right, it transforms your organisation, creating a cohesive and motivated team that drives your business forward with integrity and passion, and closer to its vision.


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