Are you marketing a brand or a culture?

I think we would all easily agree that the function of most marketing departments within most companies is to manage and drive the following:

Function of Most Marketing Departments

• Be creative • Set strategy, develop the plan, execute • Monitor competition • Manage budget • Show ROI • Find & direct outside vendors • Market, customer research • Brand management

Most of our clients struggle at some point with this last function.  Clients are often asking us to help with their brand management, to develop a plan for future product branding, how do we position these new product and product messages all in an effort to support the existing brand…and then comes the most difficult definition of all, “how do we define our brand?”  Collectively, what we all struggle with the most is the notion that brand management is the sole responsibility of the market department. Marketing doesn’t own the brand nor does any other individual or department within the company.branding1

But marketing your culture is a lot more than brand management. Your company culture IS your brand strategy. Your culture ultimately defines who you are and how your customers perceive you.  How your customer perceives you IS your brand. Your brand is not what you or your marketing department says it is….but rather what your customer says it is.

Company Culture is Strategy:

• It defines who you hire. • It defines how you treat and reward your people. • It determines how you develop products. • It determines the experience you create for your customer. • It is upheld by your leadership team that embodies the culture and sets an example for others. • It determines your success.

Ultimately the primary responsibility of establishing a culture and positioning a company brand lies within the leaders of the company themselves. It starts at the top and needs to be only communicated clearly to employees through an articulated vision and demonstrated through the actions of those very leaders.

From there, everyone within the organization needs to understand what the vision and what the culture is all about. Companies need to communicate who they are and what they stand for, including the promises they make to their customers. Employees need to be involved to help build upon the culture, support it and feel as though they are a vital part of it.  Commitment is the process of upholding and continually developing the culture that has been created.

I could keep going on about branding and company culture but interested to know what you think? How do you feel about the culture of your company? Other thoughts on what helps build culture or can pose a threat to a company’s vision?