Should you be a strategic, democratic, pacesetting or delegative leader? Here’s what will work for your startup.
When starting a business, you have a laundry list of “to-do’s”. You might be familiar with a honey-do list, but while you can put off learning how to fold a fitted sheet and weeding the back garden, you can’t ignore your list of business obligations.
One of the biggest parts of starting a business is figuring out the brand. When most people hear the word “brand”, they often think of the logo and design. The logo is a big part of the brand and signage is incredibly important, but a brand is so much more than that.
When thinking of the company brand, you have to answer a ton of questions:
Who are we? What are we doing? How are we helping people? Who are we helping? How can we market our business? What are our goals? What are our values? What do we promote?
Going through those questions is also going to affect your company’s culture. Being on the same page with your branding means you and your employees are going to share the company’s values and views.
Below, we’re going to look at how effective branding can influence company culture and what you can do to make sure your business stays on the positive side.
It’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. It makes sense, anyway. Trying to convince someone random to buy your products is going to be harder than someone who just left a nice review last week.
The same thing applies to employee retention. It’s much more time-consuming and expensive to go out and hire someone new than it is to retain your current employee.
You want your brand to truly resonate with your employees. Moreover, you want it to be something honest and thought-out, something that your employees feel like they can buy into.
If your brand is some haphazard, hastily thrown together strategy, then no one can really trust you or what your company does. But having an effective brand that your employees can feel like they’re a part of is a way to increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention rate.
As mentioned above, branding is much more than a logo and cool slogan. What your logo is can say a lot about you as a company and is a placeholder for people mentally when they hear your business name.
Once you’re past the logo, your mission statement and values are important assets to have as a business. They’re going to tell consumers out there what your business stands for and what you strive to do. They’ll also help improve employee communication.
When bringing a potential employee in for an interview, you probably went over what the company stands for and what perception you hope to give. It might have been a footnote in the interview or a passing comment, but having those core values are important.
Why? Because with common core values and ideals, your whole team is going to be on the same page. It’s much easier to work with people knowing that you have a standard to uphold or you’re both striving for the same ideals.
This, of course, does not mean that there won’t be disagreements or arguments, but your end goal is always going to be the same.
No matter who you are or what you do, every person in the world just wants to feel like they’re valued and people are listening to them. Your employees are the same way.
With an effective brand that promotes employee involvement, you’re more likely to have employees who are willing to engage and be active participants. We all have our lazy, “I want to stay in bed” days, but offering employees the chance to weigh in on branding and culture decisions means they’re more likely to be engaged.
For example, asking for employee feedback can be a big part of your culture. Let them be a part of an important decision, like choosing a domain name. Your domain name is important for marketing and branding purposes, and being a part of such a decision is a way to show that employee participation is important for you as a business.
Having an employee feel that they are undervalued is the same as pointing them towards the door, while a brand and values where they are active participants will improve their attitude and overall feeling of comfort within your business.
Very few jobs welcome employees in by saying, “OK, here’s your desk! Bathroom is down the hall. Good luck!”
Training is an essential part of any business, not just to learn the ropes and business practices, but to promote business culture and brand.
Instilling the idea of a brand is much easier to do in the early days of employment. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Lay that foundation early to show what your brand is and how it affects culture. Talk about values and core beliefs as part of the business, making sure to stress key points to new employees.
While there are plenty of toxic work cultures out there, there’s no real guideline to having the perfect culture. Some thrive on promoting competition between employees. Others are more analytical in their approach. Plenty of newer companies seem to focus on making the employee as happy as possible. Some are a bizarre combination of everything.
But it’s important for your culture and your branding to match your goals. If not, it’s going to be sending the wrong message to your employees.
Let’s say your brand is all about customer feedback. You have a fantastic customer service team and you take all issues very seriously, even implementing some customer suggestions into future products or services.
But, if you don’t let your employees provide the same feedback and open dialogue, you’re sending a bizarre message. Of course, there’s “the customer is always right”, but if your employees feel like their voice isn’t being valued, that could bring bad omens for your business. You don’t want to have your business promote two different sets of values. That just makes it confusing and unhelpful for everyone involved.
With the job market being quite strong, there’s plenty of competition out there to attract top-talent. Many businesses have turned to perks like free lunches, flexible schedules, and other benefits in order to bring in workers.
But, a company’s brand and culture shouldn’t be built around free lunches.
Even though you may be offering tons of perks, so is everyone else in your market.
Perks don’t mean anything unless the company has a strong culture and brand and as we’ve seen above, these two are quite connected. While free lunches and Hawaiian t-shirt days may bring people in, an effective, unified brand is what’s going to make them stay.
In addition, tangible motivations may only be a short-term solution. Encouraging someone to reach a quota is fine and dandy, but it’s not a long-term solution. Employees also want trust and autonomy from their employers, so be sure to reward their efforts with such incentives.
Once you’ve established a solid brand with your employees in-house, it will be much easier to communicate these values and beliefs to your customers. “You are what you eat” can be changed to “your company branding that you buy into is how you will react with customers”. It doesn’t exactly have the same rhyme, but you get the idea. 😉
That means if a customer is interacting with multiple members of your staff, they’ll be able to notice a unified voice. With consistent care, customers will be happier and more satisfied with the overall work.
Every company in the world would like someone famous to become a brand ambassador.
“Hi, I’m Michael Jordan and you should try out X business. They’re the best!” he says as he slam dunks a basketball over three lions.
Michael Jordan would be a great ambassador for your business but in reality, your employees are your best ambassadors. You want everyone from the top to the bottom of the organization to feel like they’re working on one goal together, as part of a team.
Plus, you can perform an easy internet search and see what it’s really like to work for any company. You might remember the New York Times article about Amazon’s work culture a few years ago, and how damning that was.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing out there, and you want to make sure those who are closest to your business are spreading the good word.