How your organisations culture defines your brand 21 february 2019
The link between the public face of organisations (brands) and internal
culture has been bought into sharp focus by the Hayne Royal
commission. While this brand~ culture link is an issue that is currently in
the spotlight it has been evident for a number of years.
We have seen it in the increasing appeal of small boutique companies
whose brands are a direct reflection of the culture and values of the
We also see the negative side of this brand ~ culture link with brands
losing credibility and trust because customers personal experiences
simply don't match what the brand promise.
"Overall, my fear – that there may be a wide gap between
the public face NAB seeks to show
and what it does in practice"
Hayne Royal Commission
Culture is the public face of your brand
Your organisation’s culture defines what is valued and hence
rewarded in your people, so your culture determines
how your people behave
Your customers’ experience
forms their impression
of your brand
How your people behave is a critical element
in the experience your customers have in
your store or with your service or product
What happens on the inside shows on the
Organisations that say one thing, while their customers experience
communicates something quite different, undermine their brand.
It is your organisation’s culture that both defines and gives your
To demonstrate what happens when an organisations culture is
misaligned with its brand, we only have to look at the financial services
industry. It will be hard for these once trusted organisations to regain
credibility, as customers no longer believe what their brand stands for.
These examples serve as warnings for all organisations of the
marketplace power of culture.
Culture is not some soft HR good intention, but a hard business
metric that drives marketplace outcomes and increasingly compliance
As technology closes the gap on
speed, convenience, and even
lower prices, it is your customer
experience fuelled by your
company’s culture and values that
allows your organisation to rise
above the age of ubiquitous retail
and products and offer a unique
experience; something that cannot
It is also an organisation’s cultural
resilience that allows you to both
stay true to your purpose and
values whilst adapting to the
increased pace of change.
How changing customer
expectations are driving a greater
focus on culture
i. What are you hiding?
Customers demand greater transparency around
everything from ingredient and manufacturing provenance,
fees and charges, environmental considerations, how much
tax company’s pay, gender pay gaps, cultural diversity, price
increases and a whole lot more. If you don’t tell them –
they will assume the worst.
The firm said it would also slightly reduce the recommended retail
cost of some of its incredible shrinking bars from $4.99 to $4.79.
But the price cut would be proportionally less than the chocolate
reduction. Besides, the shelf price is set not by Company X but by
retailers who could decide to pocket the lower price themselves.
ii. What are your ethics?
Rather than creating an emotional connection with
organisations and brands, increasingly customers
want a values connection. Customers look for organisations
whose values reflect their own.
While plenty of customers continue to prioritise
convenience and low cost, is ‘ethical’ the new status play,
for example ‘I am more ethical (more enlightened) than the
rest’? Growth in sustainable, Fairtrade and organic products
reflects this growing need for values connection
iii. Prove it!
Show me what your brand stands for, don’t tell me.
The way brands are seen to treat their people will become
an increasingly important part of the way customers
perceive them as a brand.
And they don’t just mean token stuff – what do you
do for your people? What am I helping to support
(or not) by buying from you?. Just ask Domino's and & 7
So how do
where you are now
1. What are the defining characteristics
of your culture at all levels of the
2. Understand how culture is impacting
your organisation’s customer experience.
A key part of this alignment of culture &
people’s experience with your brand(s),
is clarifying what is the difference your
organisation is trying to make - why are you
Many organisations don’t know, or seem to
have forgotten, what difference they are
supposed to make.
They may have a purpose, mission or vision
statement for the annual report,
but often no one really believes it or
remembers it – it certainly doesn’t
guide any decisions.
To create a meaningful brand, your
organisation has to discover, or
rediscover this difference.
"The public expectations of your
company have never been
greater. Society is demanding
that companies, both public and
private, serve a social purpose."
Larry Fink, the chairman of giant asset
management company BlackRock
"Great companies start because the
founders want to change the world
…not make a fast buck"
Successful founders of
organisations have a vision,
a purpose and a passion.
They know why they are creating
an organisation, what they are in
business to do, what problem they
are solving and why it is important
to the world - they create businesses
Rather than thinking about how to
‘position’ a brand, it is more powerful
to think about your organisational
truth – why do you exist? What role
do you play in people’s lives?
Then define your brand or
brands as a means to help address
… What difference do you want to
make in the world?
Marketing seems to have become solely
about trying to build (often superficial)
emotional connections with the customer;
allowing people to express something
about themselves by choosing to use a
brand, I am more of a foodie, more health
conscious, wealthier, smarter, etc.
This is no longer enough. As customers
become more sophisticated in their
understanding of the 'dark art' of
marketing; as they start to share their
experiences via social media; they
become a more active participant in
marketing, they are not so easily
duped by false claims and shallow
This, along with the fragmentation of
communication channels, has made
marketing as we know it less effective.
Marketing is increasingly associated with
'spin' in many customers' minds. They
don't believe you…
“That’s just marketing”.
In many ways it's back to the beginning of brands, when a brand was a mark
to represent the personal reputation of the founder. Even Mars started in the
kitchen of Frank C Mars.
Early brands for the most part were associated with specific people, a name,
a face, not a large corporation. The brand reflected the beliefs and values of
that founder so it meant something.
One would argue that the strongest brands still have that link to organisational
purpose and the culture that delivers it. Virgin, Apple, Google, Nike, Prada...
they all have a sense of purpose and a culture that is focused on delivering
Marketing can't exist in a vacuum. Brands are only as strong as the
organisational purpose, culture and values that they represent without this
'it's just marketing'.
Take an inside out approach
1. What is our company trying
to achieve? Beyond financial
returns, what are we here to
2. What is our organisation’s
current culture and values?
3. How does our culture deliver
4. How does our brand(s)
reflect and communicate
our culture and purpose?
to help you
Culture = authenticity
Your organisation’s culture is the public face of your brand because it is
your culture that ultimately defines the experience your customer has
with your brand.
Culture = competitive advantage
Like personality, you can't copy culture nor the values and purpose
that fuel it. Culture-driven customer experience is what allows you to
rise above the ubiquitous offers and false claims.
Culture= adaptation to changing customer expectations
• Demand for greater transparency about everything.
• A growing focus on values alignment between organisations and
• Prove it. Don’t tell me who you are, show me who you are.
i. Understand what defines your culture – at all levels.
ii. Understand what impact your culture is having on your customers
and their experience with your organisation.
iii. Think like a founder. Uncover the difference you are trying to
make. Why should customers care that you exist?
iv. Then ask yourself how does your culture and customer experience
align to this purpose?
v. Then, and only then, explore how your brand(s) helps you
communicate and deliver this purpose.
Key take outs
If you would like to discussion the relationship
between brands, customer experience, culture
and purpose please call us
Bread & Butter
Mob: +61 419286059
Mob: +64 272301805
Level 3, 3 Young Street, Neutral Bay, 2089
Culture & purpose
"The public expectations of your company have never
been greater. Society is demanding that companies, both
public and private, serve a social purpose," Larry Fink, the
chairman of giant asset management company
BlackRock, wrote in his annual letter to CEOS.
You’re about to get less chocolate bang for your buck with
confectionary giant Cadbury confirming its famous Dairy Milk bars are
set to shrink. Again.
The firm said it would also slightly reduce the recommended retail cost
of some of its incredible shrinking bars from $4.99 to $4.79. But the
price cut would be proportionally less than the chocolate reduction.
Besides, the shelf price is set not by Cadbury but by retailers who
could decide to pocket the lower price themselves.
Business is experiencing increased numbers of
popular protests, consumer boycotts, legal suits,
various public shaming campaigns," says Associate
Professor Bronwen Dalton, from the UTS Business
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