Huge marketing budgets are routinely dedicated to building a brand which resonates with customers, but the most cutting-edge companies also invest in building a brand culture which excites and inspires their employees.
Brand culture is what HR magazine calls that “unique blend of psychology, ideas, attitudes and beliefs informing brand behavior, influencing brand experience, and ultimately shaping brand reputation” - basically, the story of your company and how your team members engage with and live it out in their daily work life. And it’s well-documented that a strong brand culture promises big returns for a business.
For one, it helps companies attract - and retain - the best talent while fostering better relationships between colleagues and teams. It also ensures that employees share the company’s vision - an authenticity which will in turn draw customers and secure buy-in. Meanwhile, research testifies to the fact that the most productive employees are happy ones, meaning that a consistent, positive work culture is also a key driver of productivity.
For many HR experts, fostering a strong brand culture is imperative to standing out in today’s hyper competitive business market. And to stay ahead of the pack, companies should put brand culture at the forefront of their HR strategy, as Bill Taylor, co-founder of US business innovation magazine Fast Company, says in this Harvard Business Review article:
The new “power couple” inside the best companies, I concluded, was an iron-clad partnership between marketing leadership and HR leadership. Your brand is your culture, your culture is your brand.
Conversely, when employees aren’t offered a strong brand culture to connect with and thus fail to represent the ideals of their workplace, the company can face internal tensions, dissatisfied customers or risk tarnishing and blurring its own brand image.
Much like the efforts which go into external branding, a strong brand culture doesn’t arise out of nowhere. Here are three key ways to build up a strong brand culture in your workplace:
1. Define your brand culture
It’s impossible to build up a strong brand culture without first knowing what it is. Brand culture is effectively how a company’s employees live out the values and mission of its organization. So the first crucial step is to identify the work culture and the values that you want your employees to embody, and to set that out into a clear vision.
Finding that answer will take some soul-searching and an analysis of factors such as your company’s competencies, your customer’s needs and what differentiates you from similar options available out there. Think about it, break it down, and set it out!
2. Flaunt it
Now that you have settled on your brand culture, it’s time to flaunt it. That process starts at the top - ensure that management embodies the values and mission you have set out for your company and exhibits the behavior you expect from your employees.
Visual branding is another way to communicate your brand culture, both inside and out. That’s why a consistent visual brand identity is also critical to cultivating a strong brand culture, ensuring your team is clear about your brand’s identity and avoiding any confusion about old and new visions.
That’s especially the case if redefining your brand culture has also prompted a visual rebrand - a process which often leaves companies with stacks of templates and old presentation decks sporting the old logo and visual elements. Fortunately, exciting new tools can help by automating the time-consuming process of keeping your docs visually compliant. For example, Templafy's smart template management tools (particularly Templafy's 'Brand Checker' tool) does the work for you to quickly ensure that your internal content, from templates to presentation decks, is on-brand, integrating across multiple devices so that your business communications are on-brand and up to date.
Social media also makes it easier for your employees to actively share their thoughts and feelings about your brand. Encouraging your employees to be active on social media in a professional context will help boost your online brand awareness and promote your brand culture online. Arm your team with the tools to be active online ambassadors of your brand: supply them with relevant graphics and brand logos for content they might share, or place social sharing buttons on your website pages so that they can easily share on their personal profiles.
3. Encouragement fosters engagement
Achieving a strong brand culture is not a static thing: a workplace culture is dynamic and must be consistently cultivated within your organization. Now that you’ve defined your brand culture, reflected it in your visual branding, and ensured that management conduct aligns with your vision - it’s time to actively encourage your employees to engage with your brand culture.
One way is to recognize and reward your employees when they ‘live the brand’ both within the workplace and when interacting with clients and stakeholders. Meanwhile, employees are more likely to connect to your workplace culture if they understand why it matters to them - so make sure you take the time to explain why your brand culture is important and how it affects them.
With a strong brand culture, your employees’ experience should translate directly to your product or service, and to your customers’ interactions with your team. By taking the time to invest in a clear brand culture, you’ll be more likely to see growth and happier teams who embody the values of your company.
So those were just a few ideas on how to build your brand culture. If you want further branding inspiration, we've also created the very handy 'Guide to brand investment'.