When I was a 22-year old, newly graduated, green-as-grass marketing coordinator, I was flown to NYC for my first professional development conference. It was a 2-day Target Marketing class hosted by the Direct Marketing Association where I learned how to use data and A/B testing to determine which messages would get the best response to our mailings (the old-fashioned kind that required postage!)
My key take-away at that time: shape marketing messages to match the audience.
Fast-forward about ten years when I was introduced to Archetypes and the idea that the stories that existed WITHIN a business should be a foundational part of their marketing. For me – this was like flipping the marketing paradigm on its head. BUT IT MADE TOTAL SENSE. Shouldn’t a brand reflect the true nature of a business?
We built Allegory around this idea – that the stories that capture your underlying passions, purpose, and the whys and hows of your organization – are the story. And when we can articulate THAT through a brand – the right target audiences would connect.
A Glassbox: Your Internal Culture is Your Brand
So, I was excited to read this article that a friend forwarded me last month – Your Internal Culture is your Brand. In it, global trend watcher David Mattin says:
“… A business used to be a black box. Now, it’s a glass box. Back when your business was a black box, the brand was whatever you painted on the outside of the box. You had control over that. People came and looked at what you’d painted, and either they liked it or they didn’t.
Now, thanks to the radical transparency made possible by a connected world, your business is a glass box. People can see all the way inside. And that means that now the brand is everything they see. Every person. Every process. Every value. Everything that happens, ever.
There’s a single word that sums up what a person sees when they look deep inside your business: they see your culture.”
Turns out we were ahead of the trend … and now it’s more important than ever for your culture and brand to be aligned.
But … Your Culture is One-of-a-Kind
Many leaders are waking up to the fact that “culture” has become that “X-factor” between good and great – the one that enables some companies to make big leaps and attract the best talent. They look to organizations breaking the mold around culture – like Zappos or Starbucks or Google – and they try to model those cultures in their own organizations.
The problem is – you can’t imitate culture. And trying to create cool office space or benefits programs based on another’s organization’s culture will fall flat. Instead, you need to discover your own culture DNA.
In her recent Harvard Business Review article, Why Your Company Culture Should Match Your Brand, Denise Lee Yohn drives that point home:
“… it’s having a distinct corporate culture — not a copycat of another firm’s culture — that allows these great organizations to produce phenomenal results. Each of these companies has aligned and integrated its culture and brand to create a powerful engine of competitive advantage and growth. Their leaders understand that a strong, differentiated company culture contributes to a strong, differentiated brand — and that an extraordinary brand can support and advance an extraordinary culture.”
The challenge is trying to determine: what is your company’s distinct culture? Because if you can’t define – how can it be a powerful engine for growth?