Brand Identity versus Brand Culture
Within every company, big or small, brand and culture must unite to create a solid foundation for a lasting, successful business model. Individually these concepts serve a different purpose, but when combined, they are a driving force that enables long-term and sustainable growth.
Creating a brand culture isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of hard work, time commitment, and patience in order to create an identity that will endure the test of time, especially in today’s ever-changing society. However, there are several steps which business owners can take to invent their brand’s culture:
Step 1: Define (your brand)
A brand is one of the most valuable assets a company has. A strong sense of branding will lead to a stronger sense of pride for current employees, as well as a stronger presence for both prospective staff and customers. Your brand is what you stand for and what you offer to consumers and, in order to be successful, it needs to be unique.
For example, any pizza place can brand itself as a shop that sells pizza, but a truly unique brand has something to offer that others don’t. Whether it’s a unique pizza delivery model, one-of-a-kind toppings or unbeatable prices–they can easily entice people to eat their pizza over other pizza, and they capitalize on it.
What makes your company special? What sets you apart from your competitors? Define this and own it.
Step 2: Write (your mission, vision, and values)
Once you’ve defined your new brand, write down your company’s mission, vision, and values. These should align with the brand and become the words each employee lives by. Companies that develop these laser-focused, non-negotiable values tend to see higher customer and employee satisfaction, as well as increased revenue.
Take note: your company’s values must be committable in order to be effective. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store, has excelled at this. The company has a list of 10 core values, one of which is simply to “be humble.” In this video, CEO Tony Hsieh discusses these values and how they were ingrained into the company to create its unique culture.
Step 3: Create (your identity)
Utilizing your new brand, mission, vision, and values, you can now create your company’s identity – or how your company will be presented to the public. This includes the visual statement (color schemes, designs, slogans, etc.) that exemplifies the business’ services, employees, and overall philosophy.
While creating it, remember that this identity will become the permanent lens through which your company views itself. It must clearly and accurately portray everything that has been created so far – your brand’s mission, vision, and values.
As an example of a clear and effective identity, take a look at Treadwell, a small flooring company that specializes in building practical, durable floors. Treadwell partnered with Perky Bros, a creative branding agency, to create its entire brand identity – including logo and website design – with only one request: That the identity is centered around “standing upright and walking the walk” to help their clients feel confident in their product. The result? A combination of dark, bold colors with solid geometric lines that embody the strong and confident look Treadwell hoped for.
Creating this identity isn’t always an easy task. If you’re struggling to translate your brand into your corporate identity, a brand activation agency might be something worth looking into.
Step 4: Educate (your employees)
An employee’s personality and character have a tremendous impact on company culture. Employees are often your brand’s biggest advocates, and building a vibrant culture allows employees to thrive and personify your brand in a positive way.
For that reason, each employee needs to be educated and fully understand the company’s mission, vision, and values beyond just memorization; they must understand why each one exists and what it means to the company, its employees and the public. To truly build the culture you desire, these values should be ingrained in each of your employees and apparent in their daily work.
Step 5: Hire (your best-fit prospects)
Beyond educating any current employees, hiring new employees who fit within your company’s culture and share your company values is vital to building an honest brand. Does your company value cross-department collaboration? Do you have a culture where encouragement and empowerment are the driving force for the company?
If an individual’s personality or work style contradicts it, you are effectively poking a hole in the bottom of the ship that is your brand’s culture. A ship cannot float unless all of its pieces work together, and your culture will sink if the wrong tools are utilized.
In addition, hiring top talent improves employee retention, reduces turnover, and increases productivity. According to a recent study completed by Columbia University, job satisfaction and employee turnover are directly affected by satisfaction with workplace culture.
Step 6: Tell (your story)
Now that you have found your brand, identity, and the right employees, it’s finally time to present your brand and its culture to the public. What’s the best way to do this? Storytelling.
A story has the ability to capture its audience by engaging them and evoking emotion. Without a story, it is impossible to hold the attention of the people watching – or, in this case, the customers who are considering purchasing your product or service.
Your job is to tell the story with all that you have built; tell a story that will captivate and convince your audience (consumers) that they cannot live without your products and services.
The brand culture you create should translate directly to the products or services you offer, and how your company interacts with clients. Each piece should line up strategically and creatively to have the maximum impact. When you establish a clear brand culture and hire individuals who will complement it and carry it forward, your company is more likely to see the steady, long-term and sustainable growth small businesses can only hope for.