Underpinning business success: Company culture matters

Written by Kaia Vincent
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It’s not often a company comes to Brevity and says, “How can I increase employee engagement and loyalty? Why don’t my employees stay the course?”

Most enquiries centre around ‘lead generation’, yet developing new business is only one element of any truly successful marketing strategy.  If you don’t also address the keystone of your business – your people and your company culture – you may still experience periods of success, but it will always be an unpredictable road. Potholes could appear at any time, threatening to derail your progress and your hard-won achievements.

So, what’s culture?

“This is how we do things round here” – that’s what culture means in simplest form.

When you correctly define your company culture it will, along with HR tools, intuition and a careful interview process, help you attract people to join your ‘tribe’ that share many of your beliefs and want to do things in the way that you do. Internal equilibrium brings business stability, employee loyalty and subsequently a consistent customer experience that’s beneficial overall.

In terms of customer attraction and retention, those with similar and shared beliefs may select your business over your competitors if your message resonates with their own thinking and beliefs.

Living and breathing your company culture might feel mean slightly more process to follow at times…but if that culture is authentic then it should naturally flow without too much effort.  Any staff who deviate or try too hard to be part of your team, shouldn’t be part of your tribe in the first place – and the same goes for working practices that fit your ethos, or not.

How to get your company culture right

“There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is to just treat your staff how you would want to be treated.” – Richard Branson.

When Brevity Director Kaia Vincent worked in the drinks industry, she had the pleasure of meeting one of Richard Branson’s senior leaders at a soft drinks conference in Prague, just after the launch of Virgin Cola. He certainly lived up to Branson’s quote above; a genuinely nice guy who was an extremely successful leader based on the respect he gained through treating his employees in the ‘Virgin’ way.

But what does it mean to “treat your staff right”? One manager might view it as taking everyone down the pub on a Friday lunchtime, whereas another could feel it’s about sticking to a very formal appraisal process.

Whilst a successful company culture will vary from place to place, Branson’s quote suggests that one shared feature is that it’s always a two-way street. Virgin employees understand what it means to work for the company and they embody that culture because they have been a part of its evolution.   What that means is that the Virgin culture is reflected in how they treat each other internally as well as customers and suppliers.

Pitfalls when defining your culture – be honest about who you are

Brevity knows that many businesses, big and small, establish their culture by purely concentrating on what they think customers want them to be – not who they actually are. We term this “fake culture”.  But you can only pretend to be something you’re not in the short term. Another downside of fake culture is that it results in attracting the wrong clients and employees to your business.  Success will be short-lived and the company will remain in a feast and famine situation long-term.

“Business leaders have to learn that identifying a culture not about plucking a few words out of a thesaurus just because they sound good,“ says Brevity’s Director and CIM Fellow Kaia Vincent. “Culture has to be collectively defined by the entire workforce. You’ve got to be honest about who you truly are and what you stand for – only then will your values genuinely chime throughout your business in a way that benefits growth.”

Kaia continues: “Most businesses now operate in highly competitive environments, so by correctly defining your culture, you will naturally differentiate yourself from the crowd and this becomes a much more powerful proposition.”

“I am confident in saying we’re the first marketing agency in Basingstoke to base our key marketing messages around our culture…not just what we do.”

Get ahead in business – differentiate your brand 

Of course, culture isn’t new but it’s more important than ever before to develop your values using an honest strategy. Many business owners think marketing is just to do with getting new leads, designing a brochure or business cards, but the reality is the techniques are changing and your culture is what will make your company stand out.

If you’re experiencing high staff exit, sporadic periods of success, or you’ve simply read this and want to understand more about how to improve your business, talk to Brevity about establishing your company culture and booking a culture and values workshop. Call us on 01256 536000 or email kaia@brevity.marketing