Culture has always fascinated me—whether it’s the vibrant culture of a city or the unique brand culture that shapes companies. But to be frank, I’m not 100% sure what exactly constitutes “culture.” Is it a kind of vibe, or is there more to it?
Let’s better understand the concept of culture and find out how different disciplines define the term; and what we can learn from it for developing a strong brand culture.
What is Culture?
Culture is a complex term because it means different things to different people.
Culture is the set of learned behaviours, beliefs, traditions, values, norms and artefacts that shape the identity and interactions of a particular community.
It shapes how we interpret, experience and relate to the world and people around us, thus creating a sense of community.
Yet, the definition of culture varies across academic disciplines. Each field contributes its perspective to understanding culture.
Here is a brief overview:
- Anthropology: Looks at how culture influences communities.
- Sociology: Studies how culture shapes societies and behaviours.
- Psychology: Explores how culture impacts individual thoughts and emotions.
- Communication Studies: Examine how culture influences communication dynamics.
- Cultural Studies: Analyse cultural practices and their power dynamics.
- History: Investigates how culture evolves with time.
What is Brand Culture?
Just as culture shapes the identity and interactions within a community, brand culture does the same for your business.
Brand culture consists of the values, beliefs and symbols that define how your company operates, interacts with its customers and employees and positions itself in the market.
Elements of Brand Culture
Your brand culture is created by a combination of tangible and intangible factors that collectively influence how people perceive your brand.
- Vision & Mission: The purpose and direction of your brand.
- Values: The principles that guide your company’s decisions and actions.
- Beliefs: Your brand’s point of view.
- Behaviours: The actions demonstrating your brand’s commitment to its values and beliefs.
- Interactions: How your brand engages with its customers, employees, and stakeholders.
- Brand Identity: The expression of your unique brand personality.
- Symbols: Visual, verbal, or other sensory cues communicating your brand’s unique identity.
- Traditions: Rituals, stories or experiences that reinforce your brand identity.
- Community: A group of people connected by their affinity to your brand.
By strategically aligning and nurturing these elements, you can create a brand culture that turns your customers and employees into loyal advocates.
The Benefits of a Strong Brand Culture
The implementation of a strong brand culture brings many benefits, for example:
- Your brand culture becomes your guiding compass, ensuring your brand’s actions consistently align with its core values and beliefs.
- It fosters strong bonds with your customers and employees, fosters a sense of belonging and trust, and promotes a shared identity.
- Through culture, your company can attract top talent that identifies with your values.
- It also helps to create a consistent brand experience—whether through stories, actions or visual elements.
- Your brand culture serves as a foundation for all decision-making.
- It differentiates your brand from others.
- Ultimately, your brand culture helps keep the brand relevant over time.
How to Create an Engaging Brand Culture
Define Your Brand Foundation
Developing your brand culture starts with a thorough understanding of your brand. Take time to define your brand’s mission, positioning and values. These factors will later make up its personality.
When you are clear on who your brand is, who it’s for and why it exists, you are better equipped to create a culture that actually resonates.
Define Shared Values
Align the internal values with the values of your audience to create a common purpose and sense of community. These shared values will later guide all decisions and actions of your organisation.
Lead by Example
Brand culture is built from the inside out. Express your brand values in everything you do. Every interaction, communication and decision should reflect your brand’s beliefs.
Create an Internal Culture
It’s not just about you. Encourage your team to live out the company values, too.
Do your employees know what the brand stands for? Make sure everyone is on the same page. Use your brand voice in internal documents and treat your team the same way you treat your customers.
By involving your employees in decision-making, you can create a sense of ownership in shaping the brand culture.
This authenticity builds trust, strengthens loyalty and helps retain employees. This makes it a place where people like to work because they can identify with it.
Build a Distinctive Brand Identity
Translate your brand foundation into a tangible brand identity. This goes beyond designing a logo and includes choosing brand colours, fonts, a consistent imagery style and even verbal elements. Develop a palette of brand assets that work together in delivering a consistent brand experience.
Traditions hold cultures together. You might find a way to incorporate them into your branding to create an emotional connection. This could be through rituals, stories or events that shape your brand experience.
Put People First
People are at the heart of every culture. Therefore, you should put your customers and employees first. Actively engage them by, for example, seeking dialogue, encouraging them to create user-generated content, conducting surveys and taking their feedback seriously.
As the world evolves, so do cultures—and your brand culture is no exception. The landscape in which your brand operates is dynamic, influenced by trends, technology, and shifting norms. To remain relevant and resilient, be open to this change and actively shape your brand culture.
Creating a Brand Culture in the Digital Space
At a time when more and more brands operate online, it’s becoming more difficult—or different—to build a brand culture.
So, how can companies create a culture in the digital world?
While some traditional methods may not translate seamlessly to the digital world, others do. Plus, some things become more relevant or offer entirely new possibilities.
Let’s take a closer look at a few points:
In the digital world, the quality of your copy and images matters more than ever. People form an opinion about your company in a matter of seconds based on their first (digital) impression.
Whether online or offline: Consistency is key to developing a strong brand culture. Make sure your brand voice, values and personality are expressed consistently across all brand touchpoints—from your website to social media. This continuity creates familiarity and loyalty with your brand.
The internet is a great place to build your community. Be authentic, start conversations, respond to comments and promote user-generated content. You can also inspire your audience to contribute to your brand culture, for example, by running competitions or surveys.
The internet also gives you the advantage of tailoring your content to the specific needs and interests of your audience. Show them that you understand them by catering to their preferences and problems.
You can learn more about personalisation, here.
- Culture encompasses learned behaviours, beliefs, traditions, values, norms and artefacts that shape the identity and interactions of a particular community.
- Similar to how culture shapes identity and interactions within a community, brand culture does the same for your organisation.
- Elements such as vision, values, beliefs and brand identity contribute to brand culture.
- A strong brand culture leads to loyalty, attracts talent, differentiates the brand, supports decision-making and more.
- To build your brand culture from the inside out, you need to act as a role model and involve your employees.
Title image by Kaboompics