Build a strong brand culture
- 27 February 2016
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Creating a strong brand culture requires clear leadership – it’s the marketing department that has to set the tone.
Brand culture is the DNA from which organisational culture is built.
DNA emerges in a Darwinian fashion. Those parts of the genome associated with favourable characteristics are perpetuated into the future – the fittest genes survive.
Brand culture can emerge in this unplanned, organic fashion, but trial-and-error is inefficient and can lead to unfortunate traits that damage the business’s ability to survive.
But ideally, brand culture is a matter of ‘intelligent design’ – an imposed order. Once you have decided what your culture should be, it needs to be disseminated to ensure it permeates how each part and department of the organisation functions, from HR to sales and marketing to accounts, and along the entire customer buying journey.
That requires strong leadership. It means collaborating with different departments, formulating internal communications strategies and engaging with key external stakeholders.
It’s a tough challenge, but marketers are ideally placed to lead the charge:
- Marketers are most likely to understand the importance of brand to the customer
- Marketers have probably played a key role in the creation of the brand culture – they understand the specifics
- As communicators, marketers have the skills necessary to achieve buy-in from across the organisation
Here are a few ways that the marketing department can best assert itself to spread brand culture:
- Start at the top. This is your biggest obstacle, as other people will be taking their cue from the board – you’re hobbled from the start if you don’t have buy-in from them.
- To get agreement from the board, you’ll need to show how your brand culture aligns with their strategic aims for the business. If you get one or two respected members to champion the idea, your work could be much easier.
- After the board, HR is the most important department to reach. They are responsible for employees – and future staff – across the organisation. Internal alignment is key before you look to your consumers and customers.
- Senior management will probably want to hear the practical side of your plan, but everyone wants to be inspired. Consumers, who probably only have fleeting contact with your company, want to feel that you have an authentic purpose and are making some kind of contribution – that goes double for employees.
- Speak the right language. Whether you’re communicating with top-level management or rolling out your ideas across the organisation, you’ll need to talk to people on their own terms if they are to buy into the brand culture – after all, it’s supposed to be their culture too. Most of the time, that means speaking plain English. Marketing ideas don’t have to be delivered in marketing jargon.
- Have a plan and share it. You know the brand culture you want, so map out how you’re going to roll it out across the organisation through education, training and information. Then be a visible evangelist for the plan and share it openly so that people feel included in the process.
- Lead by example. Consumers want authenticity – that means people in the organisation have to commit to the brand values. If you won’t, why would they?
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