Creating a Culture That Supports Your Brand

As a marketing agency, we talk about brand a lot. It all starts with what your “why” is. What is the reason your business exists? What purpose do you serve as an organization? What message do you want to send out to your audiences? In fact, who are your audiences? Answering these questions is vital in establishing your business as a cohesive brand that has a story to tell.

Defining your business is a critical step in executing a marketing plan, but these efforts cannot be genuine if your organizational culture does not align with your purpose. Culture is the physical manifestation of your brand. You may put an incredible amount of work into defining your why, but if your team doesn’t understand, or worse, believe in the mission and message you’re putting out into the world then these efforts are wasted.

Luckily, many companies in a variety of industries are beginning to understand this important correlation. Human resources and marketing, two disciplines that traditionally exist separately, are increasingly becoming more integrated. It makes sense after all, as the best way to ensure a consistent understanding of your brand is to coordinate internal and external communication. But understanding is only half the battle, what about believing it? How do you get your staff on board with your mission and values? Here are a few ways to ensure your culture and brand are seamless:

Understand Your Brand, Inside and Out

This may seem redundant, as we already stressed the importance of defining your brand, but we’re saying it again. You need to know who you are as an organization and have a clear plan of how to communicate this to your team. Sure, this may be easier when you’re the CEO of a small, startup organization that started as a passion project – you have the ability to share this passion with every new hire that sets foot through your doors. At WJ, Ryan personally makes sure everyone understands that we are here to share in the success of our clients, that we work hard to create incredible marketing strategies they can be proud of and in turn so can we. But what if you’re the CMO of a large corporation? Creating a unified culture when the disconnect between management and the rest of the employee base is larger can be difficult. No matter the size of your business, it had to have begun somewhere, and that is usually with a purpose and passion. Does your business have the same values now as it did in the beginning? If so, great! If not, redefining your mission is crucial if everyone is to be on board with it. Large organizational change is not uncommon, but when the people you rely on to run it aren’t even sure why they’re doing so, therein lies the problem.

Create a Communication Plan

As with any marketing communication, a strategic plan to share your messaging with key audiences is crucial in creating brand trust. The same goes for company culture, just in this case, the audience is internal. The first thing every new employee should learn on the job is who you are collectively as an organization and why you do what you do. Share all mission and vision statements, and any key messaging about your business. In fact, if you’re hiring the right people, chances are they’ll already have an idea of what your why is.

Once you develop that understanding with your team, it’s important to continuously nurture that trust through open internal communication. Be transparent about what is happening within the organization. Clearly communicate any major changes and ensure everyone is kept in the loop consistently. Whether it’s a weekly update email or a monthly newsletter, your employees deserve to know what’s going on. This also offers the perfect opportunity for your team to get to know more about each other and other disciplines within the company. Once this mutual trust is built, your employees are able to act as ambassadors for your brand.

Be a Culture People Want to Be a Part of

Culture extends further than understanding and believing in your core values. It’s how your employees communicate with each other. It’s how they feel supported in their role. It’s the opportunities they have for further education and advancement. It’s the appreciation they feel for the hard work they put in. At WJ, we have a bocce league where we can get together to enjoy our lunch break and each other’s company. A large part of creating a strong culture that supports your brand is showing support for those that make your organization what it is. Create the environment that you envision your brand existing in.

Creating a culture that supports your brand is easier said than done. Often the most difficult part is having a clear understanding of what the true purpose of your business is and how to communicate that passion internally. Developing this takes a lot of time and commitment and isn’t easy to do alone. Luckily, that’s our bread and butter. We’re always here to help you figure out who you are and how you want to be seen. Let us help you create a stronger culture than you’ve ever had before. Feel free to reach out.

Why Marketing is Integral to Surviving Economic Downturn

A few years ago, we published the blog The Importance of Marketing in a Downturn Economy, a title very similar to this one. The Oil and Gas industry had just crashed, businesses were struggling, and Alberta was in a full-blown economic crisis. Most large-scale companies in the industry attempted to survive by laying off thousands of employees, and many small businesses folded completely, regardless of industry. Times were hard, and while we may not be in as large of a crisis right now, the current state of the economy has some entrepreneurs and business owners thinking about keeping costs down.

Despite learning from the ongoing ebbs and flows of the economy, businesses always seem to fall into a pattern of cutting their marketing budgets when times get tough. While cutting excess spending to keep afloat is crucial during tough times, research (and experience) has shown us that cutting all marketing initiatives will do more harm than good in the long run. Business owners often feel marketing is the easiest expense to let go of because it doesn’t demonstrate immediate return on investment (meaning they feel the business can survive without it for a while), and it doesn’t seem as important as other factors such as employee retention and business development. What they fail to realize, though, is that ensuring that marketing stays as an integral part of the operation will pay off in the long-term, helping to save jobs, fortify your brand’s presence, and ultimately bring in new work.

In tough times, marketing is often viewed as an expense when it should be considered an investment. Maintaining a strong brand and communication with audiences sets a business up to appear strong in the public eye. During times of hardship, taking a step back to re-evaluate if your marketing efforts and brand are still aligned with your organizational goals and values will help you visualize the future rather than put out immediate fires.

Ensuring you have the right budget to continue marketing in a downtown can also help your business do a few other things in times of uncertainty:

 

Strengthen Your Brand

While it may seem like a challenging time to strengthen your brand as there is less work and, in turn, less money flowing in, think of this time as an opportunity. It is a chance to reassess your “why.” Remember what brought you into this business in the first place. Your business provides some sort of value and solution (otherwise, it’s not the economic downturn that’s causing you trouble), so take advantage of the time you have and go back to the drawing board. Work with your staff on marketing efforts to communicate to your audiences the value of your brand – showcasing who you are and what you believe in in a consistent and sensitive way.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Cutting marketing in times of hardship is a common practice. Many businesses see it as the only way to avoid complete annihilation (however untrue that may be). While everyone else plays it safe, this is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd when others are no where to be found. No matter what the situation may be, continuing to invest in marketing will appear as a sign of continued strength in the public eye. So, while your competitors are hiding, you’re staying top of mind with potential customers.

Maintain Transparency

We often say that people do business with people. With so much choice and information out there, consumers, whether B2B or B2C, are looking to do business with brands they can trust. Continuing to support marketing efforts while your business lays off valued employees and loses business may seem like poor optics, but in fact, it’s the opposite. Being honest with your audiences (both internal and external) and showing that you are still thriving despite setbacks shows strength, and during times of crisis people are looking for signs of strength.

Your business will take a hit in an economic downturn – that is inevitable. The key is to not succumb to fear and go into panic mode. Understanding the benefits marketing is bringing to your business will allow you to reassess its importance. Marketing is integral to survival, but it is likely you will need to reassess your spending to become even smarter about your marketing efforts, enabling you to adjust as needed. However, identifying where to allocate marketing costs effectively is not easy. Luckily, we’re experts. We’re here to help you in your time of need and find the best way to bet your brand out into the open without losing it all.

Need a hand? Give us a call.