Think of your brand as you would your body. Imagine three months of eating Big Macs, fries, lounging on the couch, sleeping 15 hours a day. Next, think about three months of eating fruit salad, vegetables, doing Yoga every morning and sleeping 8 hours a day. The gap between lifestyle one and lifestyle two is filled with ambition and a proactive attitude.
Those brands that sleep on couch watching TV, eat Big Macs are likely not going to live long, happy lives. As owner of your brand — as you are with your body — get up, take the initiative and be proactive in living life to its fullest. This lifestyle is called culture and just as good diet, exercise and sleep does the body good, building a brand culture requires ownership over your environment, language, education attitude and social life.
Language – Flash back 30 years. If you wanted a cup of joe, you’d stop by your run-of-the-mill diner. An espresso might have been confused a super-fast subway. Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin and Gordon Bowker sought to change how Americans view coffee by started a small European-style cafe, called Starbucks.
The founders created a brand culture that reflected what they found in Europe. Cashiers weren’t called cashiers, instead baristas (Italian for “bartender”). Starbucks language empowered its employees by transforming them from a simple cashier to a Eurpean barista. Large, medium and small became tall, grande and vente. Simple adjustments to language, as Starbucks illustrates, can engender completely different culture. Just ask barista serving up a frappucino.
Environment – Running late for a client meeting? Don’t take the stairs. If you’re in Red Bull’s London office, you should opt for the slide. Creative and inspiring work environments were once the domain of ad agencies, such as Olgivy & Mather. Not any more. For Red Bull, a slide makes sense: it saves time, energy and lightens your mood before the big client meeting and is in-line with the energy drink’s high-energy, adventurous brand.
Training – Why has Wegmans, a small and cautiously growing East-Coast grocery store, made the shortlist of best places to work? I challenge you to walk into a Wegmans, ask any employee a question and they will drop what they’re doing and find out. They like being there and want to help customers. If they don’t have an answer, they will personally escort you to someone who does. How does Wegmans develop such a positive brand culture?
Education. Wegmans employees must go through four weeks of training. Investing so much in every employee is costly, but ultimately creates a sense of ownership and forms a bond between employee and brand. It’s a give-take relationship. The more time you invest in your employees, then more they invest in your brand.
Attitude / Aptitude – Anyone that’s worked in the corporate setting understands the importance of personality. Your co-worker thinks he’s in a fight with you for a promotion or your boss probably secretly despises you — all bad for a positive brand culture. The online shoe retailer, Zappos, aims avoids “bad apples” in the early stage of the hiring process. Every employee must undergo two interviews: the first of which tests your skills to complete require tasks and the second ensures you’re a good fit for the Zappos brand. In this way, Zappos crafts its internal brand culture by hiring like-minded people.
Community Building – Google might have placed anywhere within the above categories, but its strength comes from its sense of community. In addition to its community building initiatives, such as foosball tables, pet-friendly offices, eco-transport on its Googleplex campus, employees are divided into project teams, such as Gmail, Google TV, Wave, etc. Project teams make individual employees a part of the collective whole. No one person is greater than the others because everyone is working on the same level, towards the same goal.
Image by pop catalin from Stock.Xchng