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Brand as Culture, Culture as Brand

Brand and culture go hand-in-hand. The most creative business leaders recognize that success is also measured with how their organization cares about its customers AND employees as well. If you never compromise on your values and have an unfluctuating company culture, you will stand out from the crowd in this aggressively competitive market.

You can’t just think about your customers as customers and employees as employees; think of them as people. Precisely because they are people, they want to belong to something bigger than themselves and stand for something that matters. Think about it. Supermarket customers are now paying twice for cage-free eggs because they want to do the right thing and don’t want to support mistreatment of any kind.

Brand culture is how employees interpret and manifest a company’s values and how that influences consumers' buying decisions. Here are examples of worldwide companies with a successful and strong brand culture:

  1. Time and time again, Zappos is ranked on the top as one of the greatest places to work. Their company culture is so strong and steady that their founder Tony Hsieh wrote a book about it called Delivering Happiness. For him it’s important to maintain the corporate culture. In fact, to be able to work at the company, you have to pass a cultural fit interview.

  2. Southwest Airlines is definitely an airline that stands out when it comes to its employee’s behaviors and mood swings. Rather than being snappy and ill-tempered, their company culture focuses on being as positive as they can. In the long-run, staying true to their values has led them to a strong brand culture and to brand loyalty.

  3. Warby Parker has a specific group of people on their team that are dedicated to their brand and culture. Their job is to set up amusing and interactive events for their employees to have something to look forward to. They’re also big believers of team work so they make sure to have enough events so that every team member gets to meet the rest.

What these three companies (and many others) have in common is that they understand how brand and culture crisscross. A company’s culture starts from within: with its employees. How employees are treated and how much they enjoy their job will be felt and seen by your customers. If they feel welcomed, your customers will too. Having a strong brand culture is no longer an option, but rather a must. Many of today’s consumers consider how you treat your employees and how your products are made before actually buying from you. In fact, research by Ad Age shows that 81% of consumers said that they need to be able to trust the brand in order to buy from them.

People are constantly thinking of every consequence that can come after an action so they expect brands to do the same. As consumers, we want to be able to relate to the values our company of choice has and be part of the company culture. Remember always: brand as culture, culture as brand.

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