Which comes first – the culture or the brand?
In today’s hyper-connected, ever-flattening world, it’s almost become a question not worth asking.
Coexisting in a chicken/egg, yin-and-yang relationship, an organization’s brand and culture shape and reflect each other in an interconnected system. One doesn’t change without the other; they can only evolve together. And the workplace is where it all happens.
In the symbiotic relationship between brand and culture, brand is the outward manifestation of a company’s DNA and culture is the inward demonstration. The corporate world has been talking about organizational culture for years, but the emergence of brand as a discussion point in the executive suite is relatively new for many organizations. Of course, brand mavens like P&G and Coca-Cola live their brands every day, but at less well-known companies, brand has traditionally been left to the purview of the marketing department. In a competitive marketplace with a multitude of choices, however, organizations are realizing that differentiation is critical to survival and a strong brand can help cut through the clutter.
While brand is more talked about than ever, there’s also more confusion about what it really is. In no small part, that’s because concepts about brand have grown up since their Madison-Avenue, “Mad Men,” strictly advertising days.
Today, experts agree that a brand is no longer something you can apply to the surface of an organization as if it were nothing more than a mark on cowhide or a catchy tagline on an ad. Strong brands grow from within. The line between culture and brand thins and smudges to the point that it almost can’t be seen. And if an organization wants to change its brand, it needs to consider whether the culture can support that change.
Building Brand and Culture article