With enormous disruption already experienced for several years in professional services – from Royal Commissions and increased ESG expectations, Covid-19, WFH and the Great Resignation, to changing business models and the advancement of AI… being ‘different’ as an organisation is now, simply, the ‘norm’!
So how do you stand out as a go-to employer and service-provider in this fast-shifting landscape? How do you demonstrate continued responsiveness to the changing needs and expectations of your stakeholders, and create or continue to maintain an ‘edge’ over your competition?
A responsive strategy that stays true to a core identity is the starting point. To make this work, you also must have clarity of internal and external messaging about who you are and what you are doing.
In the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, organisations are already working with models connecting Brand and Culture to drive Communication, Strategy and Change. In an article by pioneering brand agency Landor & Fitch, the authors state that the traditionally siloed approach separating People & Culture and Marketing departments from the rest of the business (and from each other) is working directly against the pressing need for strategic change in organisations today. “If every business makes a promise through its brand purpose, then employees must be able to connect with this purpose at an individual level and be equipped to deliver on it.” U.S.-based brand consultant Denise Lee Yohn, who in 2018 published Fusion: How integrating Brand and Culture powers the world’s greatest companies, further explains, “Brand-building isn’t just about communicating a message to the outside world; it involves running your business and leading your organization with your brand values.” She states that organisations who use their Brands to shape their Culture and Operations produce more consistent, more sustainable results.
In contrast, the concept of Brand-Led Culture is only just starting to make an appearance at Australian boardroom tables. ‘Brand’, ‘Culture’ and ‘Strategy’ can be elusive concepts for boards and leadership teams, and a less-than-clear or siloed approach to these areas can cause major gaps and roadblocks in business growth and sustainability.
This does represent a potential edge in our geographic region for organisations who want to be first-to-the-table with a strong Brand-Culture Connection that fuels their Purpose, Vision and Strategy, engages team members meaningfully, builds a strong employer brand, and creates loyal and vocal customers… all of which promotes growth, visibility and relevance for the organisation.
Where do you start? Breaking down the ‘puzzle pieces’ that tie the elements of Brand and Culture together is where I find most board and leadership teams need to start, to first understand how these crucial parts of the business work with other essentials, like the Company Strategy, Leadership Strategy and Employer Strategy, and how different departments connect, like Operations, HR/People & Culture, Marketing, and Sales.
As you connect the puzzle pieces, working with a strategic framework such as NWC’s Brand Culture Framework, including tools for involving team members in meaningful ways, creates a robust plan for enquiry, engagement, strategy, implementation and evaluation that springboards real and sustainable change in the business.