• brucemckinnon

Brand, culture, and you

Updated: Oct 4



It stands to reason that if your team get your brand, your customers will too.


But, if your team don’t really understand what’s at the heart of your brand, what hope do your customers have?


As a Brand Strategist, it’s my belief that the team responsible for your brand has to be the most important audience for your brand strategy. Why? Because your customers will engage with the brand through the products and services your team creates, through the content they produce and the experience customers have in dealing with them.


So, it’s clearly a big risk to commit time and resources to creating a brand if your team is not engaged in the development of the brand or are not given a clear and straightforward explanation of the brand. And for this to happen, attention needs to be paid to how to engage the team in the brand strategy process and how to engage the team in its delivery. And in so doing we need to acknowledge the close relationship between company culture and brand strategy.


Richard Perrin, a partner and Head of Advisory at KPMG, defines organisational culture as “the sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organisation.” And the sum of these shared values, beliefs and assumptions are reflected by how people are expected to behave and interact, how decisions are taken, and how work activities are done.


Let’s have a quick dip into the world of company culture. Edgar Schein, a professor in organisational behavior has identified three levels of culture, all of which have the potential to impact and be impacted by brand strategy.[1]


Artifacts

These describe the physical and behavioural attributes that are easy to see – the workplace environment, what people wear and how the staff interact with one another. So an office where everybody wears suits and calls each other by their surname will have a different culture to one where jeans and T-shirts are the default uniform and everybody uses their first names. One is not better than the other but they are clearly different.


Espoused Values

This refers to how the culture is legislated through an organization’s stated values, vision and its processes. I remember wandering around The Body Shop factory many years ago where every available wall had a quote from its founder Anita Roddick. By the end of my visit, I had a very good idea about what drove and informed the culture of The Body Shop.


Basic Underlying Assumptions

Schein’s final level are the unseen and not consciously identified interactions that shape the normal everyday behavior between team members – they are so far woven into the fabric of the “way we do things” they are invisible, even to those in the organization!86


So, a brand strategy will have an influence and be influenced by the culture of the organisation.


We want it to celebrate and encourage the positive elements of an organisation’s culture and attempt to address any negative cultural issues. This can only be done if the process of developing a brand strategy is collaborative, encourages engagement and ensures that participation is acknowledged. For the team to be asked their opinion, to be listened to and to then see how that opinion is represented is a powerful “by-product” of the process.


Because to have real impact a brand strategy needs to be created, accepted and accessed by those charged with delivering it. You. And your team!


In the next blog, we will move from looking at your number 1 audience to looking at your number 2 audience - your customers!


Bruce M McKinnon is a Brand Strategist and author of the award-winning bookWhat’s Your Point? which can be purchased from Amazon. The book explores how brand strategy can fuel business growth, referencing some of the world’s most successful brands as well as sharing case studies from his own global consulting practice.



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[1] “Kukreja S. “Edgar Schein’s Model of Organizational Culture”. Management Study HQ. Available at: https://www.managementstudyhq.com/edgar-schein-model-theory.html (Accessed: 16 July 2019)”

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