brand culture

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Culture and Product.

I just received an email from Nobl a really smart, forward thinking consulting company. The email suggested that the most important advantage a company can have is its culture.  People, products, technology, customers come and go, they say, but a tight culture holds a company together. I’m not so sure this is the most important thing. It is an important thing.

For me, a great product or service is the foundation upon which a good company is built. That’s what people shell out their hard-earned for. Culture may facilitate and create mastery over a product or service but it’s not why money exchanges hands. Culture is people centric. Brand design is product or service centric. When selling a service (as oppose to a product) the lines blur a bit but I find it always better to focus first on product and service — and the people and culture will follow.

Now let’s go to the neighborhood bar and get an ice cold draft of culture.




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I think it was UnderCurrent or Nobl (Bud Cadell’s new consulting effort) who came up with the notion of an operating system for a company. It may be someone else…I need to dump the brain cache. Anyway the metaphor of an operating system for a company or brand is similar to language I use in brand planning “an organizing principle.”

One of the most overused words in business and brand consulting is “culture.” Just as companies that talk the most about ROI are the one’s who don’t have it, companies that speak of culture most often don’t have it. Back in the 90s John Dooner spoke of culture at McCann-Erickson. When I finally got through the blather about “entrepreneurship,” someone finally described it to me as “Do what you want until someone says stop.” Culture needs a motivation. It needs articulation. And it needs behavioral tenets. Culture is like the mama on your shoulder who tells you how to behave and what to do at any given moment.

Brand Culture may be a good way of repackaging what I do as a brand consultant. Brand strategy at What’s The Idea? is defined as 1 idea, 3 proof planks. (I find a motivation or claim — one that customers want most and that the brand does best – and arrange that atop 3 behaviors that are business winning.) Not a particularly sexy or in-demand sale, it works.  Yet it doesn’t often get past the c-suite.  I’m thinking of packaging it as a brand culture exploratory; it may clear up the misunderstandings around the words brand and culture. Operating system ain’t bad, but it’s a little bit like organizing principle.

Stay very tuned. Peace.



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