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Branding Your Culture

by Jan 21, 2013, 5:05 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 1.10.19 PMTalent is the magic that makes a business work. A loyal employee will move heaven and earth to make sure that everything they do is unmatched, both in quality and timeliness. To attract such talent:

Examine your “why” and weave it into your culture. Simon Sinek gave a talk several years ago regarding the “Why” and how that can create leaders. The “Why” is defined as the reason a person goes into business — the paramount desire that drives the business owner to spend their own money and invest all of their time into a concept. Many businesses tend to focus on the bare essentials to be the best at customer service, drive business and succeed, but these narrow goals do nothing to reflect the company’s culture.

Be clear about what you stand for with regard to your priorities, values, and principles. Take the Orange Culture of ExactTarget. It defines its goals and principles and demonstrates how it truly follows its culture throughout the year. Each faucet of Orange embodies a specific quality and standard which is reflected in work of Exact Target. This work adds to the existing culture and attracts those who share the same values and work ethic.

Campaign for culture. You have to talk about your brand and your culture, which will train you to demonstrate it in your daily business and help develop your employees to do so as well. However, that still leaves the public opinion to manage. If you already have someone on your payroll who handles your marketing strategies on social media and other outlets, task this individual with drafting a proposal to demonstrate your culture, show what you stand for, and develop an adequate campaign to continually reinforce your brand.

Innovate. You must demonstrate that as a company you are constantly evolving. This should be reflected in your portfolio, your team pages, your social media strategies, and your hiring practices. There should be more than just product improvements, the occasional social party, and the latest customer endorsements. You should demonstrate the better business models, examples of customer service, process changes, and development that culminate in your company’s winning culture. If your mission is easy to communicate and your goals are attainable, you should be able to seamlessly incorporate culture in all your company does, both for its employees and customers.

Prove what you stand for. Twice a year, SmallBox, a web development company in Indianapolis, promotes Factory Week. The event is is a week of innovation during which SmallBox and its employees grind out a series of items on a to-do list. Some of these tasks are as simple as refreshing an office space and others are designed to improve process, direction, and strategy. SmallBox also offers community grants to promote ‘niceness’ in the city of Indianapolis. Show your mission, your value proposition,in your branding campaigns.

When you think about companies with excellent employee culture, you probably think of names like Google and Apple. These companies have world-class culture and aren’t afraid to show the world their playbook. Define yourself, measure what you accomplish, and share your growth.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank you, Joseph. IMHO, “corporate culture” is a nebulous area defined as getting people with personalities that your bosses like interested to come in and stay with your company, as opposed to creating the type of functional working environment that well-supports what the company is trying to do. “Branding” is an area of marketing. In neither case are these central to getting quality butts in chairs quickly and affordably, and as I have previously mentioned, the more you concentrate and devote resources to the peripheral activities, the more likely the central activities are likely to suffer.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • Joseph Parker

    Thank you for the comment Keith! I appreciate your views and can understand how the article may seem in lieu of practical application, but overall I think one of the problems is the definition you gave for corporate culture. A company’s culture and values help perpetuate the “brand” they seek to portray. What I am talking about is creating a culture which reflects the “Why” of a company. If an employee can empathize with said values then their testimonial is multifaceted because the company’s values will reflect their own, and the tendency to take ownership of their work will rise. Such “ownership” will be evident in the company culture, which in the end may help attract new talent. If we truly spend 90,000 hours working in our lifetime, why not spend that time doing something we believe in? Thanks again for your input!

  • Keith Halperin

    You’re very welcome, Joseph. I appreciate it.
    “A company’s culture and values help perpetuate the “brand” they seek to portray. What I am talking about is creating a culture which reflects the “Why” of a company.” If I am understanding you properly: a company’s “culture and values” are the ongoing stream of propaganda for both internal and external consumption to persuade those seeing/hearing it that the company’s apparent purpose is different from the actual purpose of furthering the financial and professional interests of the highest-level- executives and/or investors, or more simply: “It’s what we tell them to think so they’ll forget they’re just here to make us rich.” ISTM that in the past few years, it isn’t even enlightened self-interest:”if you get more, I’ll get more, too” anymore, but rather: “it is not just that I must win, but that you must lose as well”.

    As far as attracting talent, good hype is very effective in attracting talent- if a company is an “employer of choice” it can get the “pick of the litter” however dysfunctional the actual reality of working there may be…If you’re not an “employer of choice” and not after “the Fabulous 5%,” you don’t need to offer a culture- you just need to offer a job.

    “If we truly spend 90,000 hours working in our lifetime, why not spend that time doing something we believe in?” ISTM that the expectation of fulfillment through one’s work is a last-half-20th Century, middle/upper middle class American belief, and like many beliefs “it ain’t necessarily so”. Instead of “something we believe in” how about something that doesn’t kill our souls or burn us out and gives us a *decent salary, benefits, and work/life balance to have a meaningful life and not just a livelihood? (I’d also have asked for “a modest amount of continued employment security” too, but that ship has sailed….)

    Cheers,

    Keith

    *Kinda like what the Germans have with their 4-6 weeks of paid vacation which they feel entitled to and actually TAKE, or so I am told…

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobsmadsen Jacob Madsen

    @Keith
    Interesting comments you make here. Hmmm so what do we have when companies display their culture, a deliberate and calculated manipulation and make believe or a true picture? Probably a mixture of both. When living in a world that is driven by capitalism and commercialism, that carries that the ‘game’ is played according to those structures. For years and going back to the era of modern industrilization you have had people that have had the purpose of making money for themselves, yet showing also a softer side to themselves (call it ‘pay back to society’ or absolution, the examples are plentiful). Take more or less any global bank ad you will see that they run charitable activities, yet it does not take an Einstein to know that their single and foremost purpose and interest is making money and profit. So I think we all are subject to a degree of manipulation. The why is obviously the reason for some companies able to become successful, but I would say that their purpose and what they are about is still along the lines of success for themselves and for their shareholders.
    That said and although this only applicable to the few given the world situation and many just needing a job (why not that involved in the elements of culture) if all charade and no substance behind what is displayed as the culture of an organisation people would leave when realising that only hot air and no substance behind promises.
    As for Germany vacation. Yes it is around 5-6 weeks a year and it is something taken very seriously why people do actually take their owed vacation. That said Germany probably the only country in Europe where due to their economic strength and their continued competitiveness and innovation they can actually afford this kind of luxury. Most other European countries are finding that they cannot afford to have these lengthy vacation rights, that it is detrimental to their public finances and that they (if continuing) will face an ever increasing debt that they will never get out of, why reforms and new thinking essential for survival.

  • http://www.VideoHire.com Felicia Moghadam

    Hi Joseph,

    It was great to read your article on ere.net. I thought you were right on point with your points. As a video hiring service, VideoHire.com allows companies to create 2min videos to show what their company culture is all about. In your professional opinion, and in regards to “innovation” branding, how often would you recommend a company re-design their video? I understand this may vary depending on how innovative each company is, and how big they are, etc so perhaps you can answer this question in a more customized format…”a startup with 1-10 employees might re-design every x months/years” and so forth.