“If your company is an engine, think of culture as the lubrication that makes all the parts work together.”
You’ve probably heard it before but it’s a lesson worth repeating: establishing a strong corporate culture is vital to its success. The hours spent strategizing and planning corporate culture, incorporating defined values into everyday company practices, and evaluating its success at creating an environment in which employees want to show up and be productive all help to set the stage for a company’s overall success. Used as tool to market a company from the inside out, corporate culture helps define how a company operates. It’s an asset that showcases how you operate differently and links the experience of the customer to the product by bridging a company’s values to the end product that it produces. Defining and sticking to these values is what builds the culture around you and sets expectations for how professional interactions will take place.
Take, for example, our culture here at Findsome & Winmore. The agency was founded in 1995 when our agency’s CEO and principal, as well as author of Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market from the Core (the inspiration for this very blog), began building websites out of his Rollins College dorm room. From the very start, Findsome & Winmore set out to exist as a passion-driven creative agency that is constantly on the lookout for new innovations to help our clients succeed in their marketing futures. It’s written right into our history: We share their (our clients’) passion for reaching people with good ideas, using the latest and greatest of technologies, and dreaming about the future.
Founded as a creative space, we continue to hold that value important today, and work every day to incorporate creativity and inspiration into corporate culture. Our office here in Baldwin Park may have originally been designed to house a network of accountants, but we’ve transformed the space to fit our needs, which run parallel to our culture. With heavy emphasis placed on teamwork, fun, innovation and creativity, our office environment contains elements to breathe these cultural touchstones into our team and the services we provide through vibrantly colored walls for bright ideas; creative open spaces for collaborative thinking; whimsical wall decor designed to inspire; and fun “Third Thursday” activities planned regularly for free-flowing bonding time.
That being said, corporate culture is never defined the same way for every company. It’s created and tailored based on how you’d like to be perceived both internally and in the public eye, and what you place value on as a company. In Formulaic, Matt references celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, as a prime example of how different companies showcase different cultures, one approach no less valid or effective than another. Bourdain has created a corporate culture within his kitchen according to structure, strict reinforcement and boundary setting. By vowing to fire employees on their second offense of being tardy, he instills the dire importance of punctuality within his corporate culture–albeit with an iron fist. This specific implementation will not work in many work environments, but in the high-stress, team-dependent and deeply disciplined world of high-end culinary art, it was a must to enforce Bourdain’s need for all hands to be on deck and on time.
Defining Your Corporate Culture
To start, your culture requires a plan. Establish how you’d like to define this and make it known by your team. By concentrating on these aspects of corporate culture, you’ll set your company up for a consistent presence and a successful marketing approach.
Are your employees the right fit?
Choosing the right employees is fundamental to a company’s success. These are the individuals who represent your brand and the attitude you wish it to exemplify. You’re only as good as your team, and it’s important to ensure each member of it is reflective of the culture.
This seems like it would go without saying, but it does take thought to ensure your team is reflective of your company and the products and/or services it offers. Our team places a high value on members who can work on a team, think innovatively and deliver our services by always going the extra mile. It isn’t just about what you can do on paper, but what you can deliver in person. This often requires a real, face-to-face interview to get a sense of whether the candidate is just talking the talk or if they seem confident in their abilities.
Additionally, a large reason for asking interviewees for an in-depth interview is to determine if they’re a fit for the team. Will this person get along with the others? Do they share our outlook on delivering quality service for our clients? These are important aspects to consider within our culture, but by no means is this a hard rule for every company’s culture. Define who you want to represent your company and hire with your values in mind.
What is important?
Define what values are important for your corporate culture to represent, and how these elements will be reflected in the customer experience. Is it important that employees constantly assist each other as part of a team or is individuality a valued trait? Is your company driven on keeping uniform nine-to-five schedules or more of an on-call, never offline approach?
Outlining those important elements of your company values is what will serve as a plan for building your corporate culture. When taking a look at Google’s corporate culture, you’ll see they push for creative thinking spaces in order to fuel the minds of their software engineers. Building this through the ability to design your own desks (yes, treadmill included) to the healthy snacks made readily available, the company is nonverbally enforcing outward, innovative thinking and encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
Define the things that make your company what it is and constantly explore new ways to keep these active within the office environment.
How will you keep your corporate culture present?
Once internal values are defined and incorporated into the culture, regular maintenance is needed to keep them present and active on a day-to-day basis. A few ways to accomplish this are through:
- Rituals: Simple activities you repeat from time to time to reinforce behaviors
- Rewards: Identifying culture-friendly behaviors being exhibited and providing praise for them
- Lexicon: Using language that fits your company’s culture both internally and externally to reinforce what you represent
- Role Modeling: Having leaders exhibit and model what the corporate culture defines
If your company completes its day-to-day services without its mission in mind, perhaps print this out and frame it for everyone on the team to take a look at every day, as we have at Findsome & Winmore.
However your company chooses to reinforce the corporate culture, it’s important to keep it consistent and present within the workplace. Don’t make giving praise for good work a one-time thing. If showing appreciation to your employees for the great work they do is something the company holds important, this should be a regular practice that should be acted upon on a regular basis.
Keep the values you define as part of your corporate culture alive and well in the workplace. Values lose meaning or are lost completely once they start to fade in importance, and the loss is typically quite noticeable. Constant effort is key to keeping corporate values going.
As stated above, no one culture is right for every company. It’s all about deciding what type of culture works for your company and keeping said culture not only present but thriving within the workplace. Defining the environment in which employees work, corporate culture constantly works to market from within first, then sharing the benefits of a well-oiled, highly defined culture with the customer.
Looking for more marketing insights like the ones above? Check out Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market from the Core, written by our CEO and principal, Matt Certo, and stay tuned to the Findsome & Winmore blog for more tips on how to unlock the formula behind effective marketing for your brand.