Opinion

What's your firm's internal culture like? It could make or break your brand

5 min read

14 July 2016

With advice from HubSpot’s Brian Halligan, I’ve covered the essential steps to cultivating strong relationships with employees, customers and candidates, unlocking the the power of internal brand culture.

Imagine if you could elevate your relationship with existing employees, future candidates and even your customers… all from the comfort of your office. Sounds great, right? The good news is that you can!

Here’s the truth: no matter who you are, the internal culture of your brand ignites your external message. Everyday life within the office eventually flutters outwards, reaching both customers and candidates.

When you combine time and effort – those two engines of success – to develop a positive and authentic culture, brands open the door for profit, progress and prosperity. This is true across the board, whether you’re talking to a customer, an employee or a future hire.

For insight into great brand culture, I spoke to HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan. HubSpot is renowned for a consistent focus on culture, which helps to reinforce its brand philosophy. Halligan emphasised: “In all industries, people are starting to give a crap about the mission of the company.”

With such a high level of competition, I think Halligan is right. However, there is much work to be done. Brands that offer their customers and candidates something beyond the general morass of benign indifference will rise to the top.

So, what are the steps to brand culture success?

(1) Develop a culture code

For consistency, devise a culture code that showcases the principles and values of your brand. Your code should be an accurate representation of everyday life within your office, ensuring that each interaction with your brand can be linked and traced back to your culture code.

Whether you’re speaking to hundreds of eager faces at a conference, meeting with customers in your London office, or hosting a webinar for clients in New York, all of these experiences should align with your culture code.

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(2) The power of principles

HubSpot’s culture code is truly its constitution. Halligan shared: “It’s a high level document [that] gets into the soul and the mission of the company. It covers employee behaviour, empathy for the customer and even how to do the right thing.”

I’d recommend taking some inspiration from HubSpot’s awesome seven points:

(1) We commit maniacally to both our mission and metrics
(2 )We look to the long-term and solve for the customer
(3) We share openly and are remarkably transparent
(4) We favour autonomy and take ownership
(5) We believe our best perk is amazing people
(6) We dare to be different and question the status quo
(7) We recognise that life is short

There exists a presumptive power in a brand rooted in principle; such that, even during dark or challenging times, brands can turn to those steady beacons as guiding lights. These tenets outlive CEOs, flashy TV ads and corporate reports. Principles are intrinsically more than the whole, yet simultaneously its heart.

While the focus may often lie with your customers, you need to devise principles with your employees in mind. This, perhaps counterintuitively, keeps customers happy in the long run. After all, you want your team to provide your customers with the best possible experience.

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(3) Showcase your culture

To really cultivate enthusiasm between employees, customers and candidates, it’s vital to showcase your culture in innovative ways.

Why not ask your team to take part in a fun, creative video, or even a series of blog posts? By allowing your team to express themselves and talk about their favourite parts of working for you, brands can craft authentic stories that convey key messages and values.

In fact, Howard Sloane, group HR director at Peel Ports, explained that by improving employee engagement, managers can actually increase productivity, staff morale and retention by up to 20 per cent.

If candidates can hear about the perks and benefits of your company from the mouths of your employees, you’re more likely to create a level of tacit trust.

So, even if your customers don’t buy from you immediately, or if that ideal candidate doesn’t apply for the role that day, this level of trust will continue to grow, ultimately pushing people closer to action further down the line.

Bryan Adams is the founder and CEO of Ph.Creative

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