Brand and Culture: One in the Same?
I was asked the question: why am I talking so much about brand in my blogs lately? What happened to culture?
Well, if you read some of my past posts in past 6 months (Brand, Culture and Systems: It is a Beautiful Thing When All Align, Building a Purpose Inspired Brand, What Does Your Culture Look Like?) You will see that I have come to the conclusion that brand and culture are one in the same. Or I should stand to correct myself. They can be one in the same. And in the case of Nurse Next Door, they have become one in the same.
I have always believed in the Southwest Airlines way of branding – branding from the inside out. The theory goes that you can only have a powerful brand on the outside of your company when you have first, built a powerful brand on the inside of your company. It is where brand and culture meet. Your customers will buy your brand once. And if they have a great experience, if your brand matches your culture, and it aligns with what they expected, then they will continue to buy. That is called customer loyalty. As we know, a brand is simply a promise. And it is your culture that ultimately is the holder of that promise.
So for years we put our energy into designing and building our culture. And we were successful at it. Once we did this, we started to align our brand with our culture. And as we began doing this, I woke up one day with the realization that they are the same thing. I now freely use the terms culture and brand in the same sentence. And I don’t differentiate between the two any longer.
And the beauty of this is that the same things that made our culture so successful – our maniacal focus on our four core values, and our rallying around our one common purpose, – is also starting to make our brand so successful. We are using the same components to build our brand. And as we do this, it just gets easier and easier. Just like I say in my speeches – When your core values are clear, decisions become easy. So I an now say the same thing about building our brand. We have such a tight focus on who we are and what we stand for, that it makes the science and art of building a brand that much easier.
And that is a good thing. Because we compete in a very fast growing but highly undifferentiated market. And this marriage of brand and culture is one of our not so secret weapons in the market place.