Mention the word “culture” in relation to an organization and the majority of people will immediately assume that it is the responsibility of the human resource department. Mention “brand” and the marketing department is the assumed owner. Of course, neither culture nor brand can be owned. Instead, these two organizational elements are outcomes. Outcomes of purpose-driven activities that have taken place across the organization. Sure, they need champions, but they can’t live in one office.
Companies regularly run into challenges when rolling out a brand strategy or when attempting to improve culture. Both initiatives are often dismissed as “not being my responsibility”. Instead, different department heads work independently on financial goals, brand strategy, hr, culture, marketing and submit their forecasts for the year ahead.
Purpose-driven brands address these needs differently. Rather than the marketing team hearing about a ten-year plan when it’s been fully buttoned up and signed off on, and rather than HR being told to “improve culture”, leaders of purpose-driven brands rally their teams around the clearly articulated purpose of the company. Organizing in this way ensures that the leadership team aligns people and process around the purpose to achieve the desired brand and culture outcomes.
Brand and culture strategies are business strategies. When we roll them under this more familiar term with clients, we immediately get more buy in. The best business strategies and therefore the best brand strategies, all focus on Purpose, Product, People and Process in that order. Once we know why we exist (Purpose), we can make sure our offerings (Product) are aligned. Informed by our financial goals, purpose and product, we know who and how many to hire (People). Finally we want to make sure we have the systems, tools and rules of engagement in place to achieve our goals (Process).
By having the department heads contribute to these buckets rather than brand and culture buckets, you are more likely to achieve the outcome of a great brand with a great culture. This process provides the alignment and clarity that we all seek and gives us a clear goal and reason for existing. This framework puts us firmly on the path of building a great brand with a great culture. Together, as a team.
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Barry Chandler is the co-founder of Storyforge, a brand strategy company focused on helping companies discover their purpose to allow them achieve their vision, build preference and drive margin. Barry has been building award winning businesses since launching his first company in Ireland in 2003. His last company, a digital marketing agency, was acquired in 2012 by a California based publicly traded entertainment company which then hired him as Chief Marketing Officer. It is his belief that the greatest brands seek to change the world, improving the lives of their associates, partners and customers.