Does Your Culture Support Your Brand Aspiration?
Early results from the Brand-Culture Fusion Assessment show that the workplace culture at many organizations isn’t aligned with their desired brand identities. In other words, many companies aspire to be perceived a certain way, but the way they operate doesn’t support that aspiration.
For example, over 2/3rds of businesspeople who have taken the Brand-Culture Fusion Assessment that I introduced in my new book FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies indicated they want their brands to be perceived as a disruptive brand (a brand that challenges the current ways of doing things and introduces new concepts that substantively change the market.)* And yet, two of the 3 organizational values that most support disruptive brands — competition and risk-taking — are among those that people rated their existing organizations on the lowest.
In fact many of the values that people rated their organizations on the lowest correspond to the brand types that were rated as most desirable. The values of inventiveness and experimentation — key to being an innovative brand — were near the bottom of the list. Enjoyment and entertainment were also low and yet they’re critical to supporting an entertainment brand.
An internal culture that isn’t aligned with your external brand sets your organization up for failure. You can’t simply message, market, or promote your way to your desired brand identity.You can't simply message, market, or promote your way to your desired brand identity.Click To Tweet You need your employees to think and operate in specific ways that produce the unique identity and image you desire. They must understand and embrace the distinct ways you create value for customers, the points that differentiate your brand from the competition, and the unique personality that your company uses to express itself — and they must be empowered to interpret and reinforce these in everything you do.
If you aspire to be a disruptive brand like Virgin, Chipotle, or Tesla, then you must cultivate a culture that thrives on disruption. Consider how Tesla’s core values include “Move Fast,” “Do the Impossible,” and “Constantly Innovate.” These aren’t just words on the company website. The story of how one of its ventures got started demonstrates that Tesla people actually operate by these values.
The Boring Company is taking on the task of constructing underground transportation tunnels to alleviate traffic. One Friday afternoon back in 2017, CEO Elon Musk asked some employees how long it would take to remove staff cars from the lot and start digging the first hole for a tunnel. When they told him two weeks, Musk asked why. He then gathered the necessary information and challenged them to get started that day and see how big of a hole they could dig by Sunday afternoon, running 24 hours a day. Within three hours, the cars were gone and there was a hole in the ground. Only an organization that embraces core values such as competition and risk-taking could achieve such a feat.Musk cultivates a culture that supports and advances Tesla's brand identity as a market disruptor.Click To Tweet Musk cultivates a #culture that supports & advances Tesla’s #brand identity as a market disruptor. Employees are expected to do whatever it takes to achieve the company’s mission. A few years ago, Musk wrote an email to employees explaining that “Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company.”
More recently he wrote another message demonstrating that the company is even open to disrupting itself. “In general, always pick common sense as your guide,” Musk exhorted employees. “If following a ‘company rule’ is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change.”
Tesla’s disruption is only one example. Every type of brand requires a specific organizational culture to thrive. If you want to be an innovative brand, for example, then your culture must encourage a test-and-learn mentality among your employees. If you’ve set your sights on being a style brand, then you need to infuse your culture with design and creativity.
To identify the type of culture you need to support your brand aspiration, take the Brand-Culture Fusion Assessment. It’s free and, after you take it, you will receive a personalized report that shows the three top organizational values that are required to achieve your desired brand identity and contrasts them with the values that currently exist at your organization.
Great brands achieve their brand aspirations by cultivating a clear, focused, and distinctive brand-led culture. Learn more in FUSION.
*I explain the 9 types of brands in this post.