Mar 23, 2018

5 Ways To Ensure Your Culture Doesn't Derail Your Brand

By: Josh Dougherty


Flash back 5 years. I was sitting in the board room of a national relief and development nonprofit about three months after their brand launch. A top branding agency had done the brand identity development. My colleague Steve and I were called in to do the hard work of the implementation. On this particular day, we were meeting with the fundraising team (one of the key teams involved in implementation) to discuss how things were going.

The mood in the room was subdued. People went around talking about different issues and challenges they were facing. The direct mail people argued that the brand really couldn't be fully implemented in the mail because of best practices. Riveting stuff.

I was sitting next to a guy named Chris, one of the digital project managers at the nonprofit. I'll never forget when he leaned over and said:

"Well, none of this really matters, the brand is just a new logo and colors. It hasn't changed my work at all."

This is the nightmare scenario for a brand consultant. It's also one of the telltale signs that your brand implementation might fail. If your brand doesn't change your culture, you're in big trouble.

How do you avoid this? Here are 5 tips.

Read Next: The Secret to an Accelerated Branding Process

1) Take Time To Understand The Issues

In order to amplify the great things about your culture or fix the things that are broken, you need to know where things stand. Otherwise, it's easy to put on your blinders and pretend that everything is ok.

One of the best ways to do this is to work with FiredUp! Culture to complete a Culture Index. Chief Engagement Officer Chris Ihrig is someone Polly and I trust completely, and you can trust him too. His Culture Index gives you an accurate view of the health of your team while also indexing you against other organizations.

Establishing this baseline will allow you to measure any growth in your organization as you move forward with your new brand.

2) Make A Plan To Tackle The Issues

It's one thing to understand what issues your organizational culture faces. But knowing doesn't mean anything, unless you act. We recommend tackling each of the major issues identified by the Culture Index in a branded way.

Most of these issues won't be ones you can fix quickly. Focus on creating sustained engagement plans that reflect the unique values of your brand. Your persistence will create a healthier culture and bring the brand to life for your team.

3) Identify Branded Behaviors

Sometimes people want to live out the brand, but they lack the time and energy to be able to think about how they could translate the theoretical brand essence into their day-to-day work. This should be something the brand team takes on. When we're consulting with an organization, we'll often identify 10-15 branded behaviors that exemplify the brand so that people have simple things to try on for size.

Let's make this practical. Imagine a bank teller. There are some really common actions they do all the time that could be approached in a branded way:

  • Greeting customers
  • Thanking customers
  • Problem solving
  • Acknowledging a customer request

These actions don't have to be over the top, but they should be aligned with your brand essence.

4) Win Over The Eeyores

There's usually an Eeyore on each team. They are the ones that complain about any new initiative. You know who they are. These are the people you need to win over to be successful with your new brand. We recommend making them insiders quickly. Consider making some of them brand champions.

And now for some entertainment:

5) Keep At It

Influencing your culture and brand will take time. Keep at it and you'll be successful. I wrote a full blog post about this a few weeks back. Check it out. You can also learn more about A Brave New's approach to branding here.


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