Why is it that some companies thrive and grow, while others fade away? In her book Fusion, Denise Yohn (with whom I've worked in the past), explains that today's most successful businesses -- companies like Airbnb, Nike, Google, Southwest, and Starbucks -- do something different from the competition. They succeed because they align and integrate their brands and cultures.
According to Yohn, there are five specific strategies for achieving brand-culture fusion. The first four of these strategies focus on cultivating your desired culture by aligning it with your existing brand identity. The fifth strategy takes the opposite approach: leveraging your existing culture to change your brand and as a result align both.
Here are the five powerful strategies for aligning your brand and culture:
1. Organize and operate on-brand.
Implement an organizational design and run your operations to give your organization the structure and processes necessary to operationalize your culture.
2. Create culture-changing employee experiences.
Deliberately design and manage your company's employee experience -- just as you would customer experiences -- so that every facet of an employee's journey throughout his or her connection to your organization encourages and enables your desired culture.
3. Sweat the small stuff.
Ensure even the most mundane or minute aspect of your organization -- from its "rituals" and "artifacts" (things your organization regularly does and creates to commemorate or symbolize important achievements or events) to its policies and procedures -- advances and supports your desired culture.
4. Ignite your transformation.
Use employee brand engagement tactics -- stage employee brand engagement experiences, launch creative communication campaigns, and develop and deploy employee brand engagement toolkits -- to kickstart the fusion process and then to regain focus and momentum when necessary.
5. Build your brand from the inside out.
If your culture is so powerful or established that it doesn't make sense to try to change it to achieve brand-culture fusion, leverage your existing culture to define or re-define your brand identity.
As today's most successful companies have clearly demonstrated, creating a fusion of brand and culture has its benefits. Explains Yohn, "Brand-culture fusion has the potential to improve the competitiveness and accelerate the growth of almost any organization, regardless of its size or type."
If you aren't already aligning your company brand and culture, perhaps it's time to give it a try.