Does culture make a brand?

‘Work culture’ and ‘brand’ are often considered to be separate aspects of a company’s journey — but in reality they are very much an interconnected system, developing and unfolding side by side. It’s crucial for a company to acknowledge the connection between culture and brand, as the former contributes to the latter in various ways — read on to know what I mean!

Brands are often built on the outside, while internally, its core values do not appear in its day-to-day functioning. However, when we approach brand studies, we make it a point to understand the brand identity and personality from the inside too. Because the culture within an organisation affects how the brand is perceived on the outside. 

The rock band Neon Trees has the right idea — everybody does talk, and that doesn’t exclude a company’s employees. In today’s world, with social media at our fingertips, it’s only too easy for news to get around. So, when it comes to marketing your brand, you definitely want the right news to make the rounds. The easiest way to ensure this is to provide employees with a work culture that they will have only the best things to say about. Whether it’s innovation, fair play, or equality at work, aspects of your culture are not things that are documented and tucked away — they are things your people experience, hear about, rejoice about on a day-to-day basis. 

It’s important to ask yourself — what touch points are you creating for them to experience something positive by way of that culture, so that the brand image is strengthened in their mind? Does your organisation truly harbor innovation like it promises to? Are people allowed to come up with ideas on products or processes? Do people experience the joy of their idea making it to the consumer? And, following that, do employees get the acclaim they deserve? If yes, then the organisation has truly percolated the idea of innovation among its people, and they will then be the beacon of that message. The end result — the community truly believes your organisation is where innovation thrives and will look to your brand for innovative products next. Just like Apple.

Let’s take another example in Google. No degrees needed to get a job.What does it say about the brand? Simple. That it values what you can do, not just what you know. It values initiative, curiosity, and self motivation. It values innovation and creativity — in both people and products. Moving to another wildly successful company — Netflix set a few HR processes and policies ablaze with its no-cap-on-leaves policy. Then again, employees at the Netflix claim to decide their own salary hikes and live up to what that demands out of them and what they will deliver. While many startups have tried and are still trying to adopt the same, the first-mover has clearly defined how its brand was seen when it announced all this — redefining the norms in every way. That said, when this culture of being unique and cutting-edge percolates outside, it creates a perception that the brand will deliver the same on its products and services too. You can be sure that they will be above par and different from the norm.

So, to put it simply — yes, to a large extent, culture does make a brand! Do you agree?

Tina Garg
Founder and CEO at Pink Lemonade, an Integrated Marketing & Communications agency in Bangalore.
Tina launched the company in 2011, and today, it is known for its award-winning work in creative & business communications, and digital services. She comes with extensive experience in the creative industry, and is passionate about empowering women entrepreneurs.

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