In the past, organizational culture and branding were oftentimes viewed as separate initiatives. One deals with internal relations within an organization and the other focuses on a company’s external relationship with its customers. But in today’s digital climate where consumers have more power than ever and are increasingly using that power to support companies with “good” values, culture and branding can no longer be treated as independent concepts.
More and more companies are finding organizational culture can and does influence almost every part of the business. Aside from the free lattes and Ping-Pong hang outs, an organization’s culture and the perception of what a company stands for makes a difference in attracting top talent. Having the best employees leads to better products, better products result in more customers, more customers result in more profits, more profits lead to more commercials about lots of things. The cycle repeats.
Brands and reputations take years, generations or even a lifetime to build, especially when it comes to large corporations. And the best way to manage your company’s reputation is to tell people what you want them to think about you.
Often, companies miss out on the opportunity to build a reservoir of goodwill and reputational capital. There isn’t a strategy in place to reinforce who you are and what you do day in and day out. After all, there is profit and business to be conducted. But, in times of a crisis or challenge, there is no better ally than the reputation and supporters you already have.
Take The Wounded Warrior Project for example. A few years ago, they found themselves under media scrutiny by CBS News for the spending habits of top executives. The group had grown rapidly based on its ubiquitous compelling commercial rotation on cable TV. By almost every account, the group performed valuable services helping veterans.
But it also had a dark side. Top executives also developed a penchant for lavish conferences and internal spending. After the specter of impropriety and misplaced priorities was raised, executives found themselves on the outside.
While the organization did make a few swift and decisive steps immediately following the crisis, it still took years of demonstrated actions to fix the company’s culture to rebuild its brand and reputation with the public.
Whether you are recruiting top talent, trying to influence consumers or repairing your reputation, you need a strategy to communicate your company’s culture and branding to ensure the public knows who you are and what you and your employees do everyday. It’s good for HR and good for business.
This article was written by Patrick Skarr. With a knack for analysis, research and creative positioning of issues, Patrick has been in the trenches of public policy and campaigns for 15 years.