If you feel your business is stuck between making a positive shift and just drifting along, you are not alone. Energizing company culture is now a leading strategy for improving brand relevance in the marketplace.

If you feel your business is stuck between making a positive shift and just drifting along, you are not alone.  Energizing company culture is now a leading strategy for improving brand relevance in the marketplace. Your customers want to align with products and services they believe in and ultimately want to trust and relate to the people in your organization.

If people make the difference when building company  brand culture, then why is it so hard to create work environments that empower the team?  Could it be that today’s leaders are simply out of touch? Or are current business models too slow to adapt to the complex changes they face?  Unprecedented market shifts such as the recovering economy and emerging technology have challenged companies in every industry to develop a socially engaging brand culture as a matter of survival and sustained growth.

Leveraging social media networks with targeted content is a powerful way to let new customers develop an appreciation for a company’s brand culture, the first step to loyalty.  However, understanding who you are and what differentiates your brand takes time. It can be a messy process. That’s why the short cut for many is to try to fit in by imitating successful companies and making up a safe, familiar story to tell.

To truly realize the power of brand culture, a transformation must come from the inside out, unless of course you already have an awesome company. If that’s the case, you may have an even tougher job making this shift while maintaining your brand’s authenticity as critics and competitors chip away at it.  Take Whole Foods for example, they are struggling financially after decades at the top of the organic food chain. It took some time, but now Kroger’s earthier remodeled stores and Walmart’s low, low prices have gained a strong foothold in the organic food market. (“Walmart to Sell Organic Food, Undercutting Big Brands”, By Harris and Strom, The New York Times

In response, Whole Foods recently launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign called Values Matter.  Outlined in their 22-part video series are all the ways Whole Foods is essentially more trust worthy than their competitors. It is a huge effort to position their “wholeness” as the reason to buy-in again.

“This campaign will distinguish what makes our brand special, our food different, and our quality superior,” said Jeannine D’Addario, Global Vice President of Communications at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, “whole paycheck” is how price sensitive shoppers (many of us) perceive the brand, even if they are making the world a better place. 

“We’re trying to advertise who we are. We’re trying to change what we think is a negative narrative about our company,” Co-CEO John Mackey told investors in July. So, in their quest to be known as “America’s healthiest grocery store,” Whole Foods will need to work extra hard to align their company culture to the high-minded values they advertise. Their new ads put their ethical practices right out front, but the controversy around employee healthcare benefits could move Whole Foods a few steps back.  A brand’s culture is dependent on the customers they serve.  When the business and their employees are relevant to the needs of their market, everything works. Disconnects are bad for business, drifts can be irreparable.  

To prevent the drift, first, you have to differentiate what makes you unique from other firms. It takes time to integrate and to get buy-in (one of the most important steps) from your team. With a shared vision of your value, the company must find the passion to innovate their service offerings. Orchestrating a change involves all parts of an organization, especially the communication to customers. This is often where the drift-shift, drift-shift, pattern emerges. Make sure to set and accomplish realistic goals with a schedule that allows you to make a series of incremental tweaks and refinements across all departments. Realizing meaningful change within a brand culture requires people that are engaged and accountable for results.  

No matter where your company culture is today, you will always have to know whether you are shifting or drifting. Continual investment in your people doesn’t have to be an expense. The more you give the more you will get in return. If you need guidance in that process, we’re here for you, Culture Building Brands.

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