The conversation about business culture that has recently flooded the pages of business books and journals has emphasized the need for a clear purpose and values. But true cultural change at your company hasn’t occurred until all your employees, whether top leaders or field workers, are using your values to inform their daily behavior—with customers and with each other.
Culture building can’t be simply invertising—internal communications efforts that treat employees as passive audiences who are expected to buy what the leadership or marketing team is selling. Feeling good about the organization and having a positive outlook on its future are important, but they’re not likely to prompt changes in employees’ design and delivery of customer experiences. Great brands use culture building to educate—to help employees under- stand what a brand is and why it’s important. They use it to define— to explain what the brand stands for and how it is differentiating. They use it to activate—to help people understand their own impact on brand perceptions and therefore what is expected of them.
Operationalizing your brand through company culture requires a focus on design, empowerment, and impact. You want to design the organization and its business model so it delivers on the brand values and attributes. You want to empower your people with the tools and resources to infuse the brand into their day-to-day decisions and behaviors. Finally, you want to make such a positive impact on your employees’ lives and their careers that they support your brand’s message and mission because they know their own destinies and your brand’s destiny are inter- twined. One mark of a great brand is that even former employees remain proud to say they helped make the brand great.