If you consider yourself a marketing aficionado, you may very well have heard the phrase “your culture is your brand.” Search the phrase on Google, for example, and just about every article that shows up in your search results will have exactly that as its title. But what does this phrase mean, exactly?
Investopedia gives perhaps the most straightforward, textbook-like definition of company culture when it defines it as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.” Harvard Business Review defines it as “the glue that binds an organization together.” Forbes, meanwhile, defines it as “something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code.” In general, you can consider company culture those shared beliefs that unite a company’s employees and which motivate them in their work performance.
You may remember our blog post from a few months back titled “Brand vs. Identity—What’s the Difference?” In the article, we discussed the fundamental meaning of brand at length, where brand is essentially the relationship that a company earns with its audience. You could consider “brand” the culmination of a strong marketing strategy, public relations, design, advertising, etc.
The Zappos.com example
So we’ve discussed what culture means and what brand means. What, then, does “your culture is your brand” mean fundamentally? It helps to use Zappos.com as an example. (The phrase “your culture is your brand,” after all, may originate from a Zappos.com blog post from 2010 titled “Your Culture Is Your Brand.”) Here is what Zappos.com has to say in the blog post about their own culture: “At Zappos.com, we decided a long time ago that we didn’t want our brand to be just about shoes, or clothing, or even online retailing. We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience. We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department, it should be the entire company.”
In the case of Zappos, the company chose to build their brand by adopting a culture that centered around high quality customer service. It adopted a set of beliefs that included tenets such as “deliver wow through service” and “build open and honest relationships with communication.” Even in the company’s hiring process, job candidates are screened and weeded out according to whether or not they would be a good cultural fit. In short, you can tell that the company is extremely dedicated to preserving its customer-service-oriented culture.
The long and short of it
Zappos.com might have put it best: “At the end of the day, just remember that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff—including building a great brand—will fall into place on its own.” When customers can point to your company and identify those values that your employees live and breathe, they are going to remember you more. Not only that, but they are going to remember you in a positive way, and that can only strengthen the relationship that your company has with its customers.