Are we building brands, or are we building cultures?

The evolution of the term “brand” has been gradual. Originally a way of staking claim to your property or creations (think livestock and paintings) – for years, branding was perceived as simply a name or a visual identity. And the truth is, for those outside our industry, the perceptions of brand hasn’t moved much beyond the visual or verbal realm. But for those of us who are professionally committed to the space, we insist that a brand is so much more.

Learn More: 6 Disruptions Universal to Brands Today

 Meaningful brand experiences begin with meaningful behavior

At Monigle, we think about brands as experiences; we believe your brand is the sum essence of the interactions audiences have with your organization, both inside and out. And it all starts with defining and enabling brand-driven behaviors that make people feel something unique.

A brand is only as strong as the people who live, breathe and bring your brand to life, every day. But these people need purposeful guardrails to guide their behavior.

This is why, regardless of the format it ends up taking–brand platform, positioning, anatomy–putting into words what it is you as an organization stands for is imperative. You must identify the reason your organization exists and codify the ideals you believe in, are committed to and are collectively working to achieve.

So that when activated by your people, your brand experience is created.

Rethinking the role of brand and culture 

Believe. Commit. Achieve. Today, strong brands are active brands. It’s no longer enough to SAY you stand for something. People–employees and consumers–demand brands actively stand up for things. Today, brand is about behavior.

Which has me personally re-thinking the role I play as a branding professional. The question I’ve been asking myself – and you should be asking as well – is when we are building a brand, are we really building an organizational culture?

If we consider that culture is commonly considered to be comprised of an organization’s shared values, underlying perceptions, feelings and behaviors, then with this new behavioral brand lens, I’d say we’re working to build the same thing.

Brand is culture and culture is brand. Both are fundamentally about defining a shared ethos, then enabling a group of believers of to act on that ethos.

Learn More: Disentangling Culture, Engagement, and Strategy – what do they all mean?

But why does this matter? My hope is that this can simplify how we work and affect meaningful movement within organizations. Here’s how:

  • It means less frameworks– By working to achieve the same goals, brand and culture can (and should) be defined collectively; living together in a single framework used to guide the organization’s behavior. Together, they are a meaningful force, foundational to an organization’s strategy, morale and ultimate impact.

 Learn More: Monigle in Forbes: Connect, Clarity, and Action: Surviving Framework Overload

  • It’s easier for people to adopt– Not only is “culture” a word that everyone inherently understands, but a streamlined and focused set of behavioral commitments is more intuitive for employees to identify with and deliver against. It also means that its easier for both employees and consumers to hold the organization accountable to the promises they’ve made.
  • It’s more powerful when we all own it – When brand and culture converge, it becomes obvious that it applies to everyone in the organization. At both the leadership and the employee level, brand starts to more effectively live beyond the communication or marketing team, and instead becomes a uniting mantra, a shared mindset.

 

We’d love to continue this discussion and hear how you’re using brand and culture to align behavior at your organization. What overlaps between brand and culture have you observed and what challenges or opportunities are coming to light?