Do you have a solid marketing strategy? That’s a great start. But is your strategy aligned with a strong internal culture?
Your organization’s culture has a direct impact on the success of your marketing and your company as a whole. To serve others well, your team must be aligned with your purpose and unified in their actions. Your members and prospects must trust that you’re the same in front of an audience as behind the scenes. Trust is the foundation of lasting loyalty and long-term sustainability.
While the idea of culture might seem like an abstract concept that’s hard to pin down, it is a knowable thing that can be shaped and enhanced to fuel your success as an organization.
What is culture?
Culture includes your organization’s values, character, practices, and worldview. It guides employee behaviors and attitudes. Your organization’s culture should be unique, a differentiator that draws your base to you. It should reflect your purpose, why you do what you do beyond making a profit. To define your purpose, ask yourself: What is our reason for existing?
Your culture starts with your internal team, but it doesn’t stay there. When your leaders, sales team, marketing, and HR are all aligned with your purpose, your prospects and members can see and experience your culture too. Your culture becomes your brand. It’s how you make an emotional connection with your audience and start to build that all-important trust.
What is a brand?
Your brand is the outward manifestation of your culture. It includes your logo, images, messaging, and marketing collateral, but it’s more than that. It’s your authentic self you show to the world. It compels people to interact with your company and helps them get to know you, your purpose, and your culture. It inspires possibilities in your audience and incites action.
How to Start your Culture to Enhance your Brand (and your Marketing ROI)
1. Articulate your purpose.
Culture starts with purpose. Craft a short statement that illustrates your organization’s purpose. Distribute it to your team. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Apple improves lives through excellence and innovation.
- United Way exists to help those in need.
- Walmart improves lives by providing low prices.
- Ben & Jerry’s thrives on being socially and environmentally conscious.
2. Define your long-view vision.
Before you outline this year’s marketing strategy, you need to know what you’re working towards over the long term. Identify goals for the next five to 10 years to get everyone on board the same train.
3. Align strategy with vision and culture.
Focus on your core competencies and key differentiators when planning your strategy. Keep your long-view vision in mind as you plan current marketing initiatives. Make sure you can deliver on your promises to foster trust with your base.
4. Engage your team.
When your employees are engaged, they go the extra mile for your organization. They put time and energy into innovative solutions that help you grow and thrive. By default, your prospects and members have a better experience with your brand.
5. Identify strengths and gaps in culture.
It’s okay if you discover that your culture and brand are not fully aligned or perhaps that your employees are not deeply engaged. Take some time to examine your internal culture for brand breaks, any place where your brand and culture don’t align. Also note when something is working well so you can do more of it.
6. Outline steps to close gaps and improve culture.
Once you know your strengths and opportunities, make a plan to close gaps going forward. This might involve creating new rules, metrics, and incentives to shape your culture. Change can be challenging for your team, so take a gradual, step-by-step approach.
7. Monitor progress and celebrate milestones.
Lasting cultural change can take some time, but the payoff is huge. It could mean the difference between success and failure for your organization. When you notice an improvement, celebrate it. Let your team know that they’re doing great things and it’s making a difference for your organization.
There is no difference between a brand and a culture. When your entire organization lives and breathes your culture, your members and prospects will feel it. They’ll be able to trust you, which is the first step to getting them to rally behind your causes and support your organization with long-term loyalty.