Alexa Mathias, MBA
If you are looking for a way to unleash your culture, motivate your team, drive better results, and attract more customers, then you are not alone. Aligning your culture with your brand to build a marquee culture can help launch your company’s performance to new levels. In Culture Built My Brand, The Secret to Winning More Customers Through Company Culture, Mark Miller and Ted Vaughn provide a handful of practical ways to transform your internal culture to fuel success and performance.
THINK POINT #1: The Power of Aligning Brand and Culture
When defining a brand, people often start on the outside and look in; however, a brand is truly defined from the inside out, focusing on internal operations. For a brand, internal culture is the strongest strategy driver. The way people behave inside the organization defines the brand on the outside. There is a sweet spot that exists where culture and brand align, and the organizations that find this sweet spot discover what it takes to become a compelling brand that attracts customers and drives better results.
The sweet spot where culture and brand align is called a “marquee culture.” You know you have created a marquee culture when all you do expresses a clear and consistent brand identity. Once you have successfully aligned your brand and culture, you will see your customers turn into your brand's biggest supporters. People recognize a brand that stands out, and your marquee culture can help it do just that. At the end of the day, it will require consistent hard work and dedication, but it all pays off in terms of raving customers, loyal employees, and ongoing success.
THINK POINT #2: Build a Brand that Stands Out, Build a Marquee Culture
The six layers of culture include principles, architecture, rituals, lore, vocabulary, and artifacts. Aligning these six interconnected dimensions of culture is key to developing a powerful brand experience and competitive advantage.
- Principles: Principles, based on behavior, are the foundational values that outline what is most important to your brand. Principles guide organizational standards, and they help convey the brand promise. Providing your employees with behavior-based principles that empower them to live out brand meaning is one way to elevate your organization. As a leader, you must lead by example and remind your employees of what principles guide your organization.
- Architecture: Architecture consists of the organizational systems and structures within your company. Budgets, hiring, decision-making, and other operations are all part of your architecture. These structures are there to support your team and your brand, as well as to deliver on the organization’s promise. The architecture of your brand should be looked at as a framework to equip your employees to be their very best. Your architecture should also reflect and reinforce your principles. Not only should the architecture support your people, but it should also support your purpose. A consistent experience for employees creates a consistent and satisfying experience for customers.
- Rituals: Rituals are activities and experiences offered within your organization that support and reinforce what is most important to your organization. Rituals are meant to be fun and engaging ways to empower employees and can help create a sense of ownership across the organization. When employees are energized, your brand comes to life!
- Lore: Lore consists of the stories and legends floating around your organization. By listening to lore, you can learn how your employees experience the culture. Stories hold the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how everyone reacts to them says a lot. Use stories as an opportunity to listen to your people and find issues that need to be addressed or successes that need to be praised. Remember to constantly integrate the brand along the way.
- Vocabulary: Vocabulary within your organization consists of the words and phrases used to help employees understand what is most important for the brand and the role they play in driving it forward. Vocabulary should be clear and inspiring, and it can also be used to fill gaps between other dimensions of culture. Using words and phrases clearly and concisely can help clearly deliver the message of what is important to your organization and to the brand positioning presented to the world.
- Artifacts: Artifacts are the most tangible evidence of culture; they are the visible objects that reflect what is deeper inside. Artifacts are seen, touched, and interacted with daily by your employees. Examples of artifacts include brand swag and office furniture. Your artifacts should reinforce brand identity and create an atmosphere that connects people to your brand. Upgrade your swag, design your office with intent, and create a space that truly reflects who your organization is and what is most important.
Remember that a marquee culture starts from the inside and works out, which is why all six principles start with the people inside the organization and end with the outside reputation. By integrating all six dimensions of culture you can successfully create an irresistible brand that draws people in and consistently delivers on the brand promise.
THINK POINT #3: Channel your Marquee Culture
Now that you have created your marquee culture, you must channel and sustain it. Integrating your brand across all six dimensions is challenging; sustaining it takes even more work. Reminding yourself and others what matters most will be a daily task. Leading with compassion, empathy, and courage will help you go the distance. You may even be faced with hard decisions that will make it difficult to stay true to your brand. The hard work and effort you put in as a leader will pay off as you see your brand take off. You now have what it takes to create a marquee culture.
Real Estate Implications
Real estate is a very relational industry. Clients have countless options when it comes to choosing with whom they want to work, so it will be beneficial to create a brand that stands out and attracts customers. Creating a marquee culture at your firm (or for yourself as an independent broker/agent) is one way to win business and keep clients coming back.
Integrating the six dimensions of culture into your real estate organization can be done in many ways. Outline principles most important to your organization or yourself, and define behaviors that support them. Look at your internal architecture and make sure your systems and processes align with your guiding principles. If you are a broker, ensure that the procedures you have in place benefit your agents and clients in a way that reflects the overall brand. Real estate is relational, and one of the best ways to learn about the industry is through conversation. Take advantage of stories within your firm, and use these as an opportunity to communicate the brand. These are just a few ways you can support your brand; each of the six dimensions of culture can be integrated into your real estate business.
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Miller, Mark and Ted Vaughn (2021), Culture Built my Brand: The Secret to Winning More Customers Through Company Culture, Amplify Publishing: New York City, New York.
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About the Author
Alexa Mathias, MBA
Alexa Mathias earned her Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration with a double major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation from Baylor University. Alexa currently works as a Retail Associate at Endeavor Real Estate Group in Austin, Texas.