“A brand is something that should emerge from the real, genuine interaction among people, something we call culture.” –David Mead
A company’s brand is a reflection of company culture.
I believe company culture is defined as the authentic interaction among the people the company serves: employees, customers, vendors, investors, partners, etc. A company’s culture is not something that is created by an individual; it evolves over time as a company grows. However, company culture can be inspired by leadership.
Start with vision
Startup entrepreneurs have the opportunity to determine what their company will stand for from the outset. Great leaders are driven by a cause or vision bigger than themselves, bigger than their company and bigger than turning a profit. The cause may be to “inspire life’s most meaningful journeys” as with Ritz-Carlton, or to “inspire face-to-face experiences” as with Social Tables. Starting with this bigger vision is the first step to inspiring company culture.
Define core values
Once we’ve determined the reason we’re in business, the next step is to define the core values we believe in and want each member of the company to share. The shared belief of these core values inspires consistent interaction among the people the company serves, which ultimately creates the brand image.
Here are some core values that I really like:
- People first
- Customer service driven
- Always be fair
- No assholes
- Results driven
- Aim for perfection
- Ship first, fail fast
I also like this deck on company culture and shared values by #DCTech startup, Social Radar:
People create culture
Defining core values early on is important, but the deciding factor in company culture is people.
Once we’ve determined what we want our company to stand for, and the core values we believe in, we can then recruit others who share our beliefs. It’s important to remember that company culture is not created by one person and that it will evolve over time as each new person joins the team.
So we want to build a team who share the same core values and belief in our common vision. Integrate your core values in your recruiting and talk about your vision when you on-board new team members. Make sure you are doing your best as the leader to inspire a company culture that will reflect well in your brand.
Think about the kind of reputation you want your company to have.
How do you want people to describe your brand?