Steering Out of a Culture Crisis

November 2016, by Chelsea Chen

We are entering a phase where there is a culture crisis in many companies, where 64% of people don’t feel as if they have a strong work culture. More and more employees are questioning whether what they do is aligned to their values and purpose in life, and the influx of millennials have radically changed the culture game. This isn’t meant to be a doomsday prophecy but it is common sense that happy and engaged employees beget happy and loyal customers.

While many organizations understand the importance of branding (more than just a pretty logo, hurray!), they are not quite sure where to start or how to go about building their brand. We created our proprietary Brand Wheel to help our clients to holistically understand what a brand encompasses and more importantly, why it is crucial for their staff to be feel a sense of alignment to the company brand.

Awaken Group Brand Wheel

Awaken Group’s Brand Wheel is anchored around 3 themes:

1) Core: Your Vision, Mission and Values form the core of your brand identity. Your processes, policies, offline and online interactions with internal and external stakeholders can all be traced back to the core of your brand identity. Without defining your vision, mission, and values, your organization feels like a ghost ship lost at sea, drifting from your tide to another.

2) Connection: Your ‘Connection’ to the outside world primarily hinges on your ‘Positioning’ and ‘Reason to Believe.’ What is your unique brand positioning vis-à-vis your competitors? What is your unique value proposition amidst the blurring of lines between industries? And why should people believe what you say?

3) Personality: Your brand ‘Personality’ is basically who your brand is if it were a person. When people think of your brand, whom would they associate your brand with? Is your brand the bold, justice-driven activist? Or, the friendly and service-oriented expert? Your personality is important as it helps to humanize your brand and make you more relatable to others.

Codify culture
Getting your Brand Wheel is important because it helps to codify your organization’s culture. Whether you realize it or not, unspoken cultures and norms exist within any organization. I once read an article that shared how you will understand the real culture of an organization when the Director steps out of the room. Desirable cultures are endearing – and mostly a fantasy; when undesirable norms and actions start permeating the organization, you need to set the culture right and a Brand Wheel helps to kick-off that process.

Employee engagement
As the cliché adage goes, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Many industries are being disrupted these days and employees often resist change for fear of the unknown. One way to help engage employees is to go back to the Brand Wheel, as it captures what you stand for. Getting the team to participate in this process of creating or refining their brand identity creates alignment and excitement for the road ahead because they feel that they have a personal stake in the organization’s future.

Win the Talent War
On top of current employees, organizations that get their brand and culture right are at the forefront of the talent war. Do people join Facebook or Google for their ping-pong tables and free cafeteria food? Well, for some, maybe. For most, it is the culture of fun, trust, and excellence that they want to be a part of. The rise of social media has made companies a lot more transparent and created more discerning talent group. A clear brand positioning puts you in a different league from your direct competitors and even organizations outside of your industry.

When people from the top C-suite to frontline customer service staff understand and internalize your brand identity, it unknowingly creates a culture that is visible to customers and future employees – people who typically don’t have access to the in-and-outs of your organizations. Branding is more than a fancy logo or catchy tagline; companies who pay attention to their brand attract and retain the talent they need. Getting your brand identity right will help drive the organization towards the North Star (your vision) and you would want to be that person steering that Brand Wheel.

Learn more about our past projects:

Rebranding the Mitju Fashion Brand
Designing an Omni-Channel Strategy to Deliver Brand Experience
Experience Design, Brand Strategy and Brand Visual Design for Port & Porters