How to match brand identity with company culture
Brand identity and company culture have traditionally been the remit of entirely separate departments. While marketing would take on the brand identity aspect, company culture is more likely to be defined by HR.
That’s all changed in recent years though: today, authenticity is a cornerstone in brand strategy. It’s so important that 86% of consumers reckon it’s a key factor in how they choose which brands to interact with. On top of that, more than half of those surveyed didn’t believe most brands were making any effort to be authentic.
The battle for authenticity is far more than just being transparent about business practices. To truly be authentic, the entire brand has to work toward the same values, and that includes everything from marketing material to how employees are treated
Your brand identity is crucial here, and we’ll go over the basics of defining it in this article in just a moment. But it’s also of paramount importance that your company culture matches that identity, and that’s where a lot of brands fail that all-important authenticity test.
What is brand identity?
A brand identity is like a personality, and it affects every interaction you have with past, present, and potential customers.
You’ll likely have considered areas like visual and design themes and even tone of voice, but these must also correspond to a deeper set of values.
Who are you? Why does your business stand out from the crowd? Why should people choose you?
Essentially, another term for brand identity is corporate culture, which encompasses a company’s values and beliefs, as well as what it’s like to work there. Think about an adventurous travel company that grants its employees unlimited holiday days and has the content to back this up.
At a basic level, brand identities can often be split into brand archetypes. These archetypes give a broad overview of what kind of thing your company is trying to achieve. The Sage, for example, will strive to be a source of wisdom - the go-to source for information on their field.
Then there’s the Everyman, a brand that resonates when people are seeking practical, everyday solutions. IKEA is a wonderful example of an Everyman archetype. Their branding is deliberately simple, and the focus is on their basic, utilitarian products.
Another example is the Innocent, a brand that seeks to change the world for the better. Their tone of voice is often positive and backed by powerful values. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is still famous fifteen years after its launch and cemented Dove as a brand that would promote beauty in all shapes and sizes.
Having identified which archetype your brand most strongly identifies with, you can build an identity up from there, starting with your core values. These values should be influencing everything you do, from hiring and management to visual design decisions.
Several brands have a page on their site which outright states their values, communicating to consumers exactly what they’re trying to achieve. This has a downside, though: it can create a disconnect between how the company is acting and treating its employees and the image it is trying to present to the outside world.
Creating company culture
Contrary to popular opinion, company culture isn’t all foosball tables and Friday drinks.
Consider how you’d feel if you found out a company famous for promoting education had strict policies against its employees pursuing learning opportunities at work? Or if a brand built around equality for women had terrible maternity leave policies? Kind of like you’d had the rug pulled from under you, right?
These are examples of times when a brand’s supposed identity is undermined by how they actually treat people - and that just isn’t good for business.
You want employees to essentially be brand ambassadors. Ideally, they will be enthusiastic about the company values and what they do, and this will shine through in their interactions with both customers and anyone who asks about the company.
You could create a company culture that promotes innovation by actively encouraging people to speak up when they have new ideas, no matter how outrageous they seem.
It’s also really important that your employees feel safe if you want them to be innovative: nobody wants to look like a fool in front of a team that unnerves them. If the atmosphere is friendly, though, it’s much easier to toss ideas around without fear of judgment. One clear instance of this is in managing software development teams, who often have to collaborate on projects to succeed.
One benefit of a strong brand identity is that it innately attracts those who share the same beliefs, contributing to your company culture without you having to lift a finger.
Perhaps you could think about contacting a company to find out different SaaS pricing models to streamline the content you’re putting out is in line with your brand identity. As your audience keeps coming into contact with your content, and so by extension learns and absorbs your brand identity, you’ll find that people with those same values want to work for your company.
Content isn’t just for B2C businesses, either - 30% of buyers reckon they read three to five pieces of content, while 48% think they read more than five before deciding whether or not to buy. This content is essential in letting buyers know what kind of company you are, and whether or not your values align with theirs.
Creating company culture remotely
This is a whole category of its own. Remote company culture is even tougher to work on than company culture in general.
With employees split apart and unable to communicate as freely as they might have in an office, it can be really difficult to maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to a strong brand identity. It might be worth looking into a business phone system or a Skype app replacement to ensure the communication you do have is working for you.
Sharing a purpose can be a key factor in keeping people motivated as they work away from colleagues, so a strong brand identity can be helpful here.
One avenue to explore could involve deciding things like which is the best scheduling app or best time management techniques to adapt to boost company productivity. Some software features like calendar syncing, ensuring that it’s no effort for your team to know exactly when their appointment is with each other.
This ease of use could help to position your brand, especially if you see yourself as a leader in the service or performance categories. Similarly, having a strong inbound cloud call centre could define you as someone whose customer service is second to none.
Customer service is certainly important: PwC found that 73% of consumers think excellent customer support is one of the main factors in their purchasing decisions. And, if you’re trying to match your company culture to your brand identity, that simplicity should extend throughout your organisation.
You could streamline work by looking into tools for managing projects, allowing your employees to know at a glance exactly what they should be prioritizing, be that a big project or an upcoming meeting. This is useful in all contexts but especially helpful in a remote working environment, where it is all too easy to forget about a last-minute meeting.
Alternatively, look into using the best conference call service to streamline efficient and effective communication between colleagues.
Use constant evaluation
One of the great things about company culture is that it can evolve alongside a brand. You can showcase your innovation, creativity, or adventurous nature through your employees!
It is important to be on the lookout for any bumps in the road, though. That innovative value might be coming across as too aloof, or perhaps just too jargon-filled for the everyday user to understand. In that case, it might be worth adjusting your content to be a little simpler or friendlier, which can be done whilst maintaining a pioneering position.
Alternatively, perhaps your brand is at risk of not being taken seriously enough? Again, a little tweak to the marketing can make all the difference. As with all things in branding, consistent evaluation is key to ensuring your company stays on track.
Identity, culture and experience
Nowadays, branding is all about the experience - and that goes for the experience of the employees as well as the customer.
Consider the backlash against Amazon when it emerged how they had been treating their delivery drivers and warehouse workers. With a focus on customer experience, Amazon seemed to have for gone employee experience, and many people still boycott the brand because of it.
One more thing to take from this? Communication is key. That encompasses communication to your external stakeholders, your customers, between teams, from management to everyone else… All of it!
That crucial authenticity can only really be demonstrated when everyone in your organization truly believes in the company’s values.
Whether you accomplish that through galvanizing your workforce and creating a culture that promotes the freedom to explore those values, or through marketing that deliberately works to attract people who hold those values themselves (or both!), communication will help you to meld your brand identity with your company culture.