Culture plays a role of great importance in highly successful companies. We have found that companies who have established their principles, vision, and belief structure—and truly live by them—are the ones who really achieve a dedicated, cult-like following of brand advocates. This enables their specific company culture to grow and thrive, and that culture is what draws in the right kinds of people to your brand.
First, let’s begin with a clear picture of what we mean by culture. One definition of culture is “a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution or organization”—so equally, brand culture is a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize a brand. Culture gives companies a purpose. Like a ripple effect, this purpose influences everyone from the company owners and employees all the way down to its customers.
When we at IDealogic® start working with a brand, one of the first things we do is evaluate its culture. What are the shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices of the company’s leaders, of its employees, and, ultimately, of its customers? What we’ve found is that many times the company hasn’t yet created a set of core values (or have them, but no one is expected to live by them; or they were created long ago but no one can remember any of them).
If core values help drive the company in the specific direction that leadership has envisioned, then a lack of established values will drive the company in a direction as well, though probably not the one that was intended. After all, if there isn’t a standard to go by, then how can a company expect its people to live by any standard at all? This is why it is so important to have your culture clearly defined.
Just for a moment, let’s think deeply about human nature. As humans, it’s in our nature to desire a sense of community, as this gives us a feeling of belonging to something greater than ourselves. Our families, our communities, and our countries give us something that we intrinsically need as human beings. Being part of a community or group helps to define each of us as individuals. We may not think about this very often, but it’s true. Throughout recorded history, humans have had a deep desire to belong, and we’re passionate about the families, friends, civilizations, and organizations that we belong to. It’s also true that this same deep desire we have to bond with others carries over into most other aspects of our lives.
Let’s look at it from a business sense. Since business and money go hand in hand, we’ll use money as an example. Money is important to us, right? It enables us to provide the lifestyles that we desire for our loved ones and ourselves. We work hard for it; and it’s *mostly* (IRS and children aside) our choice how we spend it. We want to spend it on products that we believe in, that we’re confident are worth paying for, and with companies we feel connected to. We’re even willing to spend more (sometimes a lot more) on our favorite brands. Why? Maybe the brand does an exceptional job at personifying its own principles. Perhaps the company is involved in a marketing effort for a social or charitable cause that is important to us. Or possibly, the brand engages us in such a way that we feel loyal, as if it were an actual person.
Companies can describe who they are and what they believe all day long; but as consumers, we’re far more interested in what a brand does than what it says. Right? It’s true. Because of this, we at IDealogic® know that it is just as crucial to focus on a company’s internal core beliefs—on what it really stands for—as it is to develop its external brand image, marketing strategies, and advertising campaigns. This is what IDealogic’s® Brand to Human® is all about.
In a previous segment, we discussed creating exclusionary buyer persona profiles—examples of people who you do not want as customers. When a company’s brand culture is specified and exemplified completely, it will result in “losing” business with consumers who disagree with what your business stands for. In a sense, this actually alienates those people from your brand. However, you must understand that this is the percentage of people that take away from, rather than add to, the health of your business. Truthfully, “losing” business from that small group is not really losing at all. Why? These are typically price-centric customers who are shopping with two factors in mind: necessity and price. They buy only because they need it, not because they have a desire to be innovative, or loyal, or to support your brand with something new or interesting you have to offer. They are indifferent to your brand, services, and/or products. There is absolutely no loyalty with a price-centric customer: whoever has the product for cheapest price wins the sale. They’ll be the most demanding, expect as much as they can get for as little as they can get it; and if there’s a problem, they’ll be the loudest complainers.
And the truth is, not every potential consumer should actually be your customer, because not everyone is going to like your company—whether your company lives by principles or not. Those customers that do like you always have a significantly greater impact on the success of your business. It’s far more beneficial to cater to those that matter than to those that don’t, because they are your biggest voice. By adhering to culture that is centered around principles and beliefs, your company attracts like-minded individuals, both customers and employees, who believe in the brand and what it stands for. These are your brand advocates—vocal, loyal, and invaluable.