Branding and Corporate Culture

Branding and Corporate Culture Elite Accounting Team Blog

Branding and Corporate Culture

The subjects of branding and corporate culture have been around for years. Books have written about the two subjects, and untold sums are spent each year as
companies work to define and promote both their internal and external perception. To look at in a certain way, you might say that branding is how the outside world perceives a business, while a culture is how it feels to work on the inside, and while brand and culture are linked, they are not necessarily the same. So while the culture of a company is defined by the feelings, attitudes and behaviors of its employees, a company brand is how an organization promotes itself in public to its partners, investors and customers.

One does not need to run a corporate behemoth to reap the benefits of branding and develop a suitable business culture. Regional and local companies employ easily identifiable colors, fonts, and slogans in their signage, instantly identifying them to potential customers. Branding can build trust, recognition, loyalty, and reputation. According to Accenture, 66% of consumers say that a brand’s culture and transparency attract them to buy from a certain brand, and 62% want companies to stand up for the issues they are passionate about. Your brand speaks about your products, your employees, your services, and your integrity, all of which impact your reputation. In a locally focussed business environment, that can be existential.

Branding is not simply having a logo. It is the effective communication of a business’ values, vision, and long-term goals — how it views itself in relation to the larger world. Coca-Cola promotes the image of fun and enjoyment of the pleasure of sharing its product (“I’d like to buy the world a Coke!”) Nike urges people to get up, get going, and exercise (“Just Do It!”) Each company’s advertising enhances and supports the central theme of the branding in a cohesive, comprehensive way that encourages people to identify with it.

How can a small business build a brand? That’s up to you. What are your strengths? How do you want to be perceived in your locality? As an example, which plumbing company would you call — the one with an ordinary black and white sign in a little- travelled industrial area, or the one that sent you an attractive, colorful refrigerator magnet saying, “Affordable, reliable, friendly, professional 24 hr. plumbing — We’re there when you need us!” That message — ‘There when you need us’ can be repeated on radio, local TV and billboard advertising as well as on social media, and becomes the brand people remember.

What about culture? The culture of a company varies on the type of business it is to some degree. A small startup often has a ‘3 Musketeers’ culture, where it’s all for one and one for all. The employees feel they are building a business together, and informality (especially important with today’s younger employees) is often the rule. The boss has an open-door policy, listens to employees’ input, and communicates effectively and often with the workers. Company meetings have a give-and-take feel, with new ideas welcomed and respected. The company need not be small, however.

Southwest Airlines is famous for putting employees first, figuring if they are happy, the customers will be happy, and if customers are happy, then profits will rise and growth will follow — and that has proven to be the case.

Another example is a kind of ‘pirate’ culture, where individual achievement is key. Sales organizations are especially attracted to this kind of internal identity, with a premium on hitting goals and driving revenue. Often a highly pressurized environment, employee turnover can be quite high as management burns through people looking for high-volume ‘producers.’ Care also has to be taken that company integrity doesn’t slip through the cracks in the quest for higher and higher sales figures, as the damage to the company’s reputation will act as a counterweight to the best of sales efforts.

A hierarchical culture is usually found in large, well-established companies where stability and chains of command are needed. Multiple levels of responsibility and reporting can be effective, especially where the company’s expansion has grown to the point where directives need to be clearly transmitted to a large employee population in multiple locations. However, this culture tends to discourage innovation, and is most useful in businesses where consistency and continuity come into play. Think Amazon or insurance companies.

There are many different corporate cultures, and deciding which one to create can help retain employees, grow sales, and encourage innovation. The choice is as individualized as the brand your company chooses to project, fostered by the culture you create.

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