Your brand is how people outside your company perceive your company, products and services.
You don't control your brand. After all, you don't control people or what they think.
It used to be that you could buy a brand image if you had enough money to spend on advertising.
This is becoming more difficult if not impossible; especially for the smaller players.
You can influence your brand.
Image courtesy of moomsabuy | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Your company culture is determined by your values, behavior and consistency on how you deliver on your promise as a company. The way things are done here. Or not.
You have one whether you created it intentionally or it just happened.
It starts with you and your employees. It impacts your customers, potential customers, suppliers, partners... everyone who interacts with your organization.
It is the single biggest factor in determining your brand.
It is nearly impossible to separate your culture from your brand in today's online and connected world.
The biggest chance you have of creating a powerful brand of your choice?
Create a company culture of your choice.
Define Your Culture
Define your mission. Define your core values. Write a vision of what your culture should look like. This is what it would be like to work in your organization (think 5 senses), what it would be like to interact with your organizations, expand on your core values, etc. Flesh out your corporate vision.
You want to paint a vivid picture of what it all looks like.
Don't try to create a Zappos culture. You aren't Tony Hsieh. Neither are you Apple or Steve Jobs.
Adapt don't adopt ideas from others. Embrace the parts of you and your organization that make sense for your culture and brand. Highlight them.
But don't deny the rest of you.
People can smell a fraud.
Defend Your Culture
You've defined it. It is authentic.
Hire the right people. People with values that are aligned. People who can get behind your mission, values, culture and vision.
Reinforce your values and culture regularly. Make sure employees and key stakeholders understand how their own goals and value align with the organization... how they will win when the organization wins.
Be prepared to jettison those who don't fit.
A single bad apple will spoil the rest. Cultural poison.
Bake It In
Your culture has to be baked into your business.
Your hiring processes. Your leadership and management development. All of your business processes and systems. Your work environment.
Bake it in everywhere you can.
Make sure there are no gaps in the alignment with your strategy. It must be part of it.
Your culture is not grown in a Petri dish in a lab somewhere.
You build it (or not) every day through conscious choice and effort.
Your company and brand depends on it.