Aligning internal brand, purpose and culture
Brands with purpose rise to the top. However, when employees have no personal purpose or cannot align their purpose to that of the company’s, they become disengaged and disconnected from the business.
Do your employees know your business purpose? If yes, do they know how they personally contribute towards that purpose?
Start inside: The vision, brand, values, beliefs and aspirations of the business should drive the true purpose – not an advertising campaign. Work with your employees to define and articulate your purpose and culture, and then use that to develop campaigns aimed at your customers. Your customers will experience the business the way it really is, instead of having a far-fetched campaign that neither your employees nor your customers can connect with.
Marketing and HR should be best friends: To get employees to understand the brand, purpose and culture, they should be exposed to it from day one and then throughout their employment journey. While marketing works at communicating the brand to customers, the collaboration of HR and marketing communicates the brand to employees.
Join the dots: People find meaning when they see a clear connection between what they highly value and what they spend time doing. That connection, however, is not always obvious. Leaders are in a great position to articulate the values a company is trying to enact and to shape the story of how today’s work connects with those values.
Make it real: People need to feel a sense of purpose in what they do and if they understand how their individual roles make an impact, they’ll behave like that. Share stories of real people and how the business has made an impact on their lives. Bring in people who have been helped by the company’s products or services and let them talk to your employees. While businesses are usually pretty good at sharing financial data, it’s the human stories that make the most impact on your employees.
Leaders are the drivers: Beliefs, attitudes and behaviours only get entrenched in a business when they’re focused on and driven from the top down. Leaders should visibly drive culture, live the brand and continuously make the connection back to purpose. Make purpose real by formally and informally sharing stories, speaking passionately about what the company stands for and sharing personal lessons learned in that process.
Have those hard conversations: Often, leaders will overlook or ignore behaviour that is not aligned to the brand, culture or purpose. It gets even trickier when the inappropriate behaviour is displayed by a top performer. This is harmful to the business and creates an impression that culture is only applicable to some. Address issues and have the hard conversations when needed – they are more important than you think.
To develop our purpose, we had a workshop with everyone in the agency. Together, we crafted it – taking into account our values – and included behaviours we believed would align what we do, to why we do it. We then had individual sessions where each person developed a mission statement for their specific role and listed three key points they felt would not only help them focus on their purpose, but would also work towards the agency’s purpose.
Our creative team developed an internal “bullseye” poster which visually showed our purpose, our values, behaviours and each individual’s mission statement and focus areas. This bullseye poster was printed on large canvasses that are displayed at our entrance and in the office – keeping it top of mind and relevant.
Furthermore, we use our individual mission statements as a reference when we have internal check-ins with each other and we have discussions around how individuals believe they are doing or where they need help. To bring everything together we also developed an internal ethos – #countMEin – which further reinforces the importance of each individual and the role each of us plays to make this a great agency to work at and to work with.
About the author: Sylvia Schutte is the Managing Director at Stratitude.