Brand Research and Corporate Culture – Part 1

Does your corporate culture help or hurt your brand? Developing a corporate culture that supports your brand building efforts might seem like an ancillary activity, but it should be a top priority. That’s the topic of my new Brand Research and Corporate Culture series on the AYTM blog — how to use brand research to ensure your internal brand building efforts and corporate culture are helping your brand, not hurting it.

corporate cultureIf your employees don’t believe in your brand, why should consumers? If your corporate culture runs counter to your brand promise, you can bet consumers will notice and your sales will ultimately go down. Just ask Enron, and if that example is too extreme for you, consider any big financial company’s reputation over the past few years. Remember that resignation letter from Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs?

In simplest terms, your corporate culture should be the foundation of your brand promise. Your company and your employees must live and breathe the brand promise or its external success with consumers, the media, and so on will be limited.

Even the beloved Apple brand has come under fire from the media, the wider population, and its loyal customers when news broke about the company’s complacency related to poor working conditions in some supplier factories the company uses in China. In simplest terms, Apple’s use of these factories and apparent dismissal of the events happening there does not match the brand promise and consumer perceptions of the brand. It’s a story that clothing brands have been caught in for years with Tommy Hilfiger, Phillips-Van Heusen, and Gap recently receiving the backlash.

If a corporate culture is perceived by consumers to allow these types of factory conditions to continue, then their perception of the brand will be tarnished. The brand promise won’t match the corporate culture causing consumers to become confused by the brand and ultimately, to turn away from the brand in search of one that will meet their expectations for it in every interaction.

That’s why building a corporate culture, not for marketing purposes but rather as the cornerstone of your brand promise and reason for doing business, is so important. Remember, your employees are your most powerful brand advocates, and building a brand should start with them.

Zappos is probably the best and most well-known example of a company that lives and breathes its corporate culture in all aspects of its business — both internally and externally. The company’s tagline, “Delivering happiness,” permeates through everything the company does. That’s because Zappos walks the walk and talks the talk. Its corporate culture isn’t just a sign hanging on the office wall. It’s a way of life. Zappos employees are educated about the corporate culture and continually reminded of its value in everything they do.

Don’t believe it? Read through some of the posts on the Zappos Family Culture Blog, and you will. Or watch the video below.

And here’s a more serious video where Zappos employees explain what the company’s core values mean to them.

Zappos is successful in truly living its core values and creating a corporate culture that ensures brand consistency is paramount in all customer touch points and as well as in all internal activities. In other words, marrying your brand promise to your corporate culture is a significant opportunity that too few companies are leveraging to build brand equity and establish a strategic advantage.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Brand Research and Corporate Culture series where you’ll learn about conducting internal brand research so you can develop a corporate culture that positions your brand for success.

Image: Nick Cowie

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius brings over 20-year of marketing and branding experience as Contributing Editor for the AYTM.com blog. She is the author of numerous books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com.
  • Suzanne

    I love it when a company/organization is not afraid to HAVE FUN and express exactly who they are to the public. Nice article and great sourcing of examples.