Companies Are People, Too

Archive for September, 2012

Let Your Company Culture Inspire Your Brand

Does your external brand drive your culture or is it the other way around? Imagine turning your brand inside out, so your internal brand takes precedence over your external brand.


A few months ago, I had the opportunity to present a webinar for the Columbus Chamber members discussing how our culture (internal brand) influences our external brand. Put in human terms, we learned that in organizations, as in life, beauty is only skin deep; it’s what’s on the inside that counts.


It’s important for leaders to articulate and reinforce what’s on the inside — core mission, vision and values because those elements directly impact what happens on the outside — how well we get and keep customers. When every employee understands why the company exists, its purpose beyond making money, and what it values/believes, that internal culture guides decision making (choices) and behaviors (actions). Those choices and actions create a lasting impression, positive or negative, in the minds of the people who experience them.


Creating synergy between your company’s core (what it stands for and how it behaves) and its external brand promise and brand position is critical in the wake of consumers demanding authenticity and transparency from those they choose to do business with.  Actions do speak louder than words and social media makes sure we hear them — the good, the bad and the ugly.


During the webinar, we discussed in-depth the five keys to brand synergy:


Brand synergy


We discussed examples of organizations that are not fulfilling their brand promise and those that are living out their brand to the fullest. What companies have you encountered whose behavior is not consistent with their brand promise? (Delta, GM, Comcast, Bank of America.) What brands do you think of that live their brand promise every day in every way? (Southwest, Apple, Starbucks, Zappos.)


Your brand means nothing if your internal culture does not reflect it every day.  So, turn your brand inside out – see it through the direct experiences of your employees and customers. It’s the first step toward clarity and consistency in decisions and actions that empower everyone in your company to deliver its brand promise.


Watch this webinar.
Learn more about assessing your company’s culture.
Learn more information about brand alignment.


Posted in: Brand Alignment, Change Management, Company Culture, Organizational Development, Organizational Personality

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Connect with Employees to Connect with Customers

“A company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. Brand is just a lagging indicator of culture.” Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos.


“Your brand means nothing if your internal culture doesn’t reflect it every day. Imagine calling Zappos to place an order and getting a crabby person.  You can get beautiful shoes anywhere.  But Zappos has been the number you call when you want exceptional service—the brand promise you have bought into—that Zappos will “Deliver Happiness.”


When your employees deliver less than your brand promise, a few customers might give you a second chance when they have a bad experience.  But hardly any will give you a third chance.  If you know the lifetime value of your customer, you know the impact losing him or her will have on the bottom line.


That’s precisely why Companies Are People, Too helps our clients get and keep customers AND employees. The key is to make sure your culture (internal brand) is in sync with your brand promise.  When it is, you have happy employees who want to be working there and who give exceptional quality and service to your customers, who in turn continue to buy from you, refer more customers and generate profit that keeps the company sustainable.


How can you create an employee experience that is going to differentiate your brand and enable your people to consistently deliver the brand promise?  Most people don’t come to work excited about the prospect of making profit for their company. They need a connection to the brand promise, and it begins with knowing, embracing and living the answers to these questions:


  1. Why does your company exist?  What is its purpose beyond making money (mission)? Connecting people to a purpose is an important way of helping them feel good about your brand and research proves there is about an 85% correlation between the way employees feel about the brand and the way your customers do.
  2. What are the core beliefs (values) that guide decisions and behaviors? Not everyone is right for your brand. Find the people who share your values and then teach them the skills they need, not the other way around.
  3. What are acceptable behaviors? A value isn’t a value unless 99% of your people are doing it 99% of the time. That’s consistency! Performance reviews tied to values brings them to life.

If you want to connect with your customers, start with making raving fans of your employees.  Pay as much attention to the employee experience as you do to the customer experience, and your brand promise will be fulfilled.  For help articulating your core ideology, culture or brand promise, email your request for the white paper summarizing my book, Companies Are People, Too.

Posted in: Brand Alignment, Company Culture, Organizational Development, Organizational Personality

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