A brand is not an entity without a face. It lives, it breathes and it definitely communicates. A plethora of branding strategies are laid down by entrepreneurs to place their brand on the top of their target audience’s mind. And many of these strategies work too! But the real architects of a great brand are the people of the organization. These are the people who have come together in pursuit of a common goal. Together they bring into existence certain attitudes and behaviors called CULTURE that further aids in brand building and development.
Alas, this human element loses its voice amid the hullabaloo of branding and marketing practices undertaken by the organization. However, an entrepreneur must foster a culture that is aligned with the identity of the brand.
So, what is brand and culture alignment? Does it help the organization in creating a powerful brand? How can it be undertaken or executed? Let’s find out.
Brand and Culture Alignment – A Tool to Gain Competitive Advantage
Establishing alignment between your brand and culture is about making them work together to gain a competitive edge in all fields and areas of operations, be it recruitment, retention, growth, productivity, or profit. It’s about encouraging the employees of the company to stay on brand. Irrespective of the size of your business, you must inspire your people to live your brand. After all, how people of the organization work inside positively impacts how the brand looks outside.
In an organization where brand and culture are perfectly aligned, employees naturally spout the virtues of the brand to the customers. Your employees exhibit brand-building behavior which leads to a better customer experience. A vital part of the strategic brand management, brand and culture alignment makes each of your employees your brand’s evangelist who leaves no leaf unturned to make your brand great.
Brand and Culture Misalignment – The Adverse Impacts
The misalignment between culture and brand makes it difficult for the organization as it strives for brand development. It also gives rise to friction and resistance among the people which then hampers productivity at the workplace. Here are some of the adverse impacts of brand and culture mismatch.
- Affecting the Efficiency: When the misalignment creeps in, the efficiency of the organization suffers. This means the quality of the outcomes stooping to a new low. Creating a brand is synonymous with offering the best quality products or services. Thus, when quality hampers, it poses challenges for all the brand-making efforts as well.
- ‘Blurred’ Vision: A well-integrated brand and culture push the organization towards its vision more successfully. But due to the misalignment, there is no common motivation among the employees. With this lack of focus and encouragement, achieving the organization’s vision becomes difficult, which also creates roadblocks for brand development.
- Damaged Reputation: When it comes to creating a brand, reputation has a pivotal role to play. However, discrepancies between what you truly are on the inside and what you say outside could damage reputation beyond repair. It’s only with integrated brand and culture that an organization could have a great brand repo which helps it clear the test of brand authenticity.
Now that we know how employees as an internal brand community is beneficial in brand building, let’s bring into the limelight the ways to inextricably link a brand and culture.
Build a Brand by Linking it with Your Culture
When a brand is backed by the culture of an organization, the former is sure to flourish and reach heights. The behavior of the employees aligned with the brand ensures positive outcomes that are favorable in brand building and development. Here are some ways to establish alignment between the brand and the culture and leveraging the link to create a brand that your customer loves.
- Hire Talent Who Personifies Your Brand Traits
While hiring, look for your brand personality in the potential candidate. During the interview time too, evaluate the candidate based on the traits of your brand. Aligning brand and culture during potential candidates’ initial contact with the organization can help in saving efforts afterward. This tip especially helps startups and budding companies that are building their core team.
- Let Your Brand Voice Be the Voice of your Internal Communication Too
In their marketing strategy, entrepreneurs make sure that they give a voice to their brands. It is with this voice that they communicate to their target market. But the same voice doesn’t have any share in the internal communication. Be it internal communication or an external one, the brand voice should be carried out consistently. Employees should be spoken with in the same brand voice set for external communication. Because the people are truly invested in the brand, the voice can further align their behaviors towards the identity of the brand.
- Let Your Existing Culture Define Your Brand
If you have a well-established culture and changing it to align with your brand doesn’t make sense, then let that entrenched culture be the foundation of your brand. Make the best of your existing culture and take advantage of it to define the identity of your brand.
- Consider Infrastructure Side of Your Organization
Be it control, appreciation, reward, recognition, or the way you define roles and responsibilities, each of these things has an impact on your culture. To make the people live the brand, you must delineate the way they operate either as an individual or collectively as a team. In short, the way your company approaches the people side of your business has a lot to contribute towards culture and brand alignment.
- Match Your Words with Actions
Your brand positioning defines you as a fun company yet you never do any outing. You have CSR mentioned in black & bold on your website but you never let your employees participate in it. Don’t just talk about these things. Let your employees practice these things. This way they’ll live what the brand promises and become the advocate of your brand, thus, accelerating the process of brand and culture alignment.
The Bottom Line
Leveraging people and culture to build brand results in a brand that epitomizes trust and assurance. It is, therefore, important to identify cultural elements, cultivate them, and link them with your brand identity to have a distinct and competitive brand.