When brand and culture converge, it’s a winning combination for a company. To truly brand your culture, it must stand behind a rock-solid mission statement — everything your organization does should be representative of that mission. Of course, that means your brand too.
A brand should never be just a logo or name. It should be an embodiment of your values and persona, a philosophy passed on to your customers. To understand how to do this right, take a look at these four companies that have successfully branded their organizational culture.
Starbucks’ mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Their brand isn’t about low-cost or fast service; it’s about an experience and quality. Starbucks makes a point to discuss the ethical sourcing of their coffee beans and how the company has worked to improve the lives of growers in poorer communities across the globe.
You can see this nurturing element in the coffee shops themselves too. They want to make people feel welcome and comfortable, offering cozy chairs, desks for people to work, and free Wi-Fi, so people know that they can settle in and drink their coffee in their own time. This way, Starbucks has nestled itself into the everyday of people’s lives.
Southwest’s stated mission is to “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel." The brand isn’t about luxury; it’s about the people. Southwest Airlines flight attendants are trained to be witty, funny, and clever (even rapping or singing!) as they dispense the basic safety procedures, unlike most other airlines. They also dress casually. Southwest wants to give its customers an experience like they’re traveling with friends.
This brand is clearly representative of the existing culture, where its reputation has long been positive — employees are treated well with benefits and perks. So can it just be a coincidence that it’s the only major U.S. airline that is consistently profitable?
Lego is the epitome of a culture that coexists with its brand. The purpose of the Lego brand is to “inspire and develop children to think creatively, reason systematically, and release their potential to shape their own future, experiencing the endless human possibility.” But the same goes for its adult employees.
One of the main cultural elements of Lego is that people know what to do without a rulebook, and that there’s never one solution to a problem. Creative thinking and imagination is paramount, no matter if you’re a product developer building all day or someone in finance finding innovative solution for problems.
Anyone in the country (or the world) can probably easily recite Nike’s tagline: "Just do it." It represents the purpose of the brand, to offer “inspiration and innovation for every athlete in the world.” "Just do it" could easily represent the company culture itself — where innovative projects and products are crucial to the overall company mission.
For example, there’s Nike+, which is tied exactly to brand purpose. Nike+ is a training app for athletes that doesn’t just track your progress but gives inspiration and motivation to keep going. Nike has tunnel vision when it comes to brand and culture — and how they must intertwine — which is why they have been so successful.
Your brand shouldn’t alter to catch every new trend and wave. Dedication to branding your culture can make you as successful as these major four companies.