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Closing the gap between culture and branding.

You are the sum of the five people you associate with. I love this quote as it shows how much of an impact your environment has on how you think, feel and act. But, if we were to get technical, I would correct it and say that you are the sum of the five people, the spaces, and culture or society you operate in.

You could put five of the most creative, motivated and inspiring people in a grey room for six months and I can guarantee these five people will not be the same five people anymore.

Culture is one of the most important aspects of building winning brands that win over the competition. However, time and time again, I see how stifling internal environments, rules and rituals stifle or contradict the values which are actually needed to build the brands consumers are now after.

Business leaders need to be thinking about how they can influence behaviour, motivation and action inside the company with their staff, just like a marketing manager would be thinking about this around the consumer.

The trick is to really understand your staff and how to motivate them. This is not as simple as a monthly pay check, especially if you are dealing with millennials!

To make sure you aren’t paying top dollar for top talent and wasting it, ensure you look at the below steps to identify and close the gap between your company’s external and internal brands.

1. Purpose. Actually articulate what you want your company to be about. What is the purpose and values you need to support the overall mission? What do you want your staff to think and feel about the business? This all needs to connect to your wider vision of the brands, products you create, and the customers you serve.

2. Measure the gap. Now that you know what you are striving for, understand how far off this ideal you actually are. Conduct internal surveys and actually speak to staff members (or have some else do this), and see what you learn. How are they thinking and feeling about the business? How connected are they?

3. Brainstorm. Once you understand the size of the gap and identify some of the issues causing it, brainstorm how you can close it. Some things might be glaringly obvious, for example, if staff feel like they don’t understand what is going on, or what the business is striving for, implementing a weekly video from the CEO, a monthly AMA (Ask me anything), or even just a internal social platform might do the trick! Other issues may take some trial an error. For example, a feeling of general disengagement may be the result of several factors, or more sever issues with the overall company culture. The important part here is taking stock, making some active changes and measuring again in 6 months time.

4. Plan, action & measurement. Nothing happens without a plan and what is not measured does not get managed. Influence and brand building takes time and constant work but the pay off is potentially far more than any money you can throw at an advertising budget.

The major lesson here is a business is not a business without it’s customers but we can’t get customers if we don’t have the right staff to build the culture and carry out the work. It’s a typical chicken and egg story. The best businesses have nurturing plans for both.

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