Brand culture and values
A big part of your organisation’s brand – or brand personality – comes from the culture and values you promote. Remaining authentic to the brand values on which you based your organisation in the first place, and seeing those values lived out day-to-day in the behaviour of your employees and the ‘feel’ of your workplace, is crucial.
At home, many of us have values imparted to us as children, passed on in turn to our own children. We might sometimes mock these “old-fashioned values”, but in reality, they mean something to us - and if they’re not respected it causes tensions. It ought to be the same in the workplace – employees all committed to agreed authentic values which are remembered, count for something and affect everyone’s behaviour.
Your brand values should reflect your brand purpose – the story behind your business.
They should be simple, helping people ‘get’ your organisation and contributing positively to employee engagement every day - challenging, inspiring and keeping people on track. They should also be honest, believable and obvious, from the boardroom to the shop floor.
Instilling honest and obvious brand values across your business will foster strong workplace engagement and a strong organisational ‘culture’: the feel of what it is like to be part of where you work, and how everyone around you behaves.
A shared, positive culture rooted in the brand purpose and values of your organisation will mean greater employee engagement - you’ll have created an environment where people want to come in and deliver their best work. A strong culture will foster creativity, speed up decision making and bring more direction to business strategies.
Organisational culture can get complex – which is why small enthusiastic start-ups sometimes find it easier to define and sustain than large, long-established brands. But we all need to crack it. If you have multiple offices, people working at home, or local hubs and central city HQs, you’ll just need to work harder at communicating your culture across a breadth of places.
Over time, too, organisational culture can become diluted or unclear to the people working for you, bringing disconnect and a breakdown of trust. Take time to refocus on it – especially if you’re about to go through something like a rebrand, change in leadership structure, merger, acquisition, or office relocation. Use such pivotal moments to refocus your organisation’s workplace engagement culture, bringing renewed energy and enthusiasm.
At RAW Brothers we once did a nationwide brand project with an organisation established in the late 70s. The founder had been savvy in defining the brand values and culture right from the start, and we found that if you asked anyone - from board member to shop floor manager - a question, they used literally the same phrases to answer. It goes a long way in explaining why this brand was no.1 in the UK and turned over £1 billion a year. But even that company needed to evaluate its culture from time to time and evolve some of the language behind its values to engage a new generation of employees.
So what can you do?
Have a look around your organisation. Are the brand values which started your business still obvious? Do these values drive the organisation’s culture, or is the culture driven more by other pressures such as making a profit at any cost? Are your brand values positive – do people pick each other up if they are broken?
Conduct a brand values audit, asking employees what they think the brand values are. Explore questions like ‘What stories do people love to talk about in our organisation?’
‘Does our audience understand who we are?’, or ‘What promises can we make that no one else dares to?’
Gather hard data and do research before you try to create or evolve brand values. And get leadership buy-in by showing them industry case studies demonstrating the value of a strong culture.
How can we help?
RAW Brothers can help you with this process of evaluating your brand purpose and brand values, and translating them into a meaningful organisational culture. Drawing on our many years’ experience and tried and tested methodologies, we’ll help you identify the gaps and challenges in your organisational structure and culture, as well as your unique strengths.
Whatever the size of your organisation and however diverse the people, teams, or locations, we’ll help you foster strong brand values and real workplace engagement.
We’ve worked with many organisations in sectors from finance and technology to arts and education, and we have found all of them have one thing in common – people. Your employees hold the keys to a successful organisational culture. Your employees are also very perceptive and can tell the authentic from the fake; a meaningless PowerPoint presentation versus a genuine call to make a difference to your organisation.
By linking organisational brand to your people through genuine employee engagement and workplace engagement, we’ll help you build values and culture that challenge, inspire and improve creativity and direction.
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