Your brand is so much more than just a logo, an advertisement, or a website. It’s the promise you’ve made to your customers – the tangible benefit that makes your product or service desirable and unique. What sets your business apart in a crowded marketplace? Does your culture reflect that differentiation? If there’s a disconnect between your internal operations and your messaging, employees will have little reason to believe in – or advocate for – your brand.
Here are four steps you can take to ensure that your company’s culture is aligned with your brand promise:
Develop Your Core Values
Far too often, little effort is made to define a company’s core values beyond ensuring that they look good on paper. This is a huge mistake. Your values tell the world what you’re all about, motivate your employees to follow you, and energize your customer base. Actually operating as though these values really matter seldom happens, but companies that do frequently see their employee morale, customer satisfaction, and sales figures skyrocket. The founders of Whole Foods Market created a multibillion-dollar business by offering foods that are fresh, wholesome, and free of artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Their focus on food and nutritional products that support health and well-being informs everything they do as an organization.
Educate Your Employees
Your company’s core values should be reflected in every business process, every job description, and every employee performance review. Don’t just assume that employees will always share your values. It’s your job to clarify why these principles exist, and to explain them in a way that resonates with each employee. Teach them how to integrate your core values into their decision-making process, in order to support your brand promise and serve as ambassadors of your brand to the world.
Hire People Who Reflect Your Core Values
Are you hiring people compatible with your core values, or just selecting employees based on competency and credentials alone? Evaluate each prospective hire to ensure that they are the right cultural fit for your business. Performing a personality assessment is an effective way to identify employees who will likely excel in your unique environment. Shoe retailing giant Zappos conducts a second interview with each new hire, purely for cultural fit. They look for people whose personal values mirror the company mission – those who are already living the brand.
Tell A Story
Beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers carried a quote in his wallet for years that read, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” Storytelling is a powerful tool for communicating your organizational culture. Before your company focuses on customers and external marketing messages, you should think about your employees, values, and internal stories, since these can all build a strong business culture.
When your internal culture reflects your brand promise, you’ll discover that it’s far easier to develop effective brand experiences for your customers. Your employees will be more supportive of your products, services, promotions, and new business opportunities, and will become your company’s most powerful brand advocates.