As you learned in Part 1 of the Brand Research and Corporate Culture series, internal brand building is essential to ensuring consumers believe your brand promise. qThe word-of-mouth marketing that employees can drive is vast and valuable. Now, it's time to learn how to create a corporate culture that defines your brand.
Why do your employees come to work each day? Certainly, they need to earn money, but what are the other reasons that they get out of bed and work for your company every day? Companies like Patagonia know the answer to that question. As Thomson Dawson of Branding Strategy Insider explains:
"The higher purpose of Patagonia is not to make and market more technically driven outer wear, rather Patagonia's leadership has aligned their core values and mission around stewardship and sustainability of the planet as a whole. They are a leading voice and advocate for the greater good. This is not a brand strategy, or clever marketing. It's how they are as an enterprise. It's the reason their employees come to work every day. It's also the reason the brand has unquestioned relevant differentiation in their customers' minds and competitive advantage at a premium price point in the marketplace. Patagonia is a brand that represents social good and business good as two sides of the same coin."
For Patagonia, the corporate culture and brand promise are one and the same. The same could be said of Zappos, a company that puts its brand promise of superior service and delivering happiness above all else. As a result, a corporate culture that employees believe in has evolved and everyone works each day for that common purpose -- service and happiness for Zappos and sustainability and stewardship of the planet for Patagonia.
Conduct Internal Brand Research to Develop a Corporate Culture
The first step in creating a corporate culture that lives cohesively with your brand promise is to get internal buy-in. Your first source for information is your employees. They need to live and breathe the corporate culture, so their thoughts, perceptions, and misgivings are essential to not just defining your corporate culture but also implementing it. Begin with brand research by surveying your employees. You need to understand what they currently think of the corporate culture and brand promise before you can go any further.
The biggest mistake you can make is to assume you know what your employees think of your corporate culture and your brand. For most companies, the majority of employees don't know what the brand promises or why they come to work each day aside from earning a paycheck. That's why creating a corporate culture that employees buy into represents a significant strategic advantage. Most companies simply aren't focusing on it, but as Zappos demonstrates, corporate culture can have a huge impact on sales and brand success.
Begin your internal brand research by asking questions about your brand promise and corporate culture, so you can see both through employees' eyes. Questions could include the following:
- What does our brand mean to you?
- Which words best describe our corporate culture?
- Is our brand important to you?
- Does our corporate culture affect how you do your job?
- What does our brand promise to consumers?
- Do we deliver on our brand promise to consumers?
- What is missing from our corporate culture that would help you do your job better?
- What don't you believe about our brand promise?
- What don't you believe about our corporate culture?
- What's the worst part about our corporate culture?
- What's the best part about our corporate culture?
- When you describe your job, our company, and our culture to other people, what do you say?
Use the above sample questions as a starting point and integrate rating and ranking questions to get a clear picture of what employees think about your brand and corporate culture right now. You need to identify what they like, what they don't like, and what they think is missing.
Most importantly, you need to ensure that they believe their responses to your questions will have a direct effect on the company and their jobs. If they believe your survey is just another satisfaction survey that will have no impact on their jobs or lives, they won't care about it. Instead, make sure they understand the end goal of the survey, and make sure they believe their responses will be completely anonymous. If they don't answer questions honestly, you'll be no better off than you were before you conducted the survey.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Brand Research and Corporate Culture series where you'll learn about external brand research for developing a corporate culture that employees and customers believe. In the meantime, if you missed Part 1 of the series which explains why corporate culture matters to brand building success, follow the preceding link to read it now.
Image: Nick Cowie, rocio