Branding is From Venus and Culture is From Mars

By Rich Jones

Branding is from Venus and Culture is from Mars.

That may be an exaggeration, but it is common to see brand and culture on a collision course. So, let’s look at what are common between culture and brand and how they can get at odds with each other.

Culture is a combination of what is expected of us as employees in all of our interactions with members, fellow employees and the community as a whole. It is these resultant behaviors that give us the ability to understand who we are as a company and what others can expect from us behaviorally when they approach us.

The brand is all of the elements that create the personality of an organization: the mission, vision, values, purpose. Brand goes beyond the scope of color, logo, voice and message. Ideally, it provides guidelines for the company culture. Obviously, brand and culture should not be in conflict but live in synergy.

Culture is anchored in the credit union mission. Branding tells us how to communicate this mission with our words, acts, decisions, and behaviors.

Culture is how we go about pursuing the vision. Branding is telling us the route to that vision.

Culture is lived based on the values that are important to the credit union. Branding clearly identifies those values and how to use them in our decisions and interactions.

Culture is realized in the organizational purpose. Branding puts the purpose into words and tells us why what we do is important.

So, which comes first, culture or brand?

Your credit union already has a culture or in some cases several cultures depending on the business unit or the manager. In companies with an undefined and fractured culture, the result is a workforce that is not working together. An undefined culture often causes managers and human resources to spend a lot of time as arbitrators of conflict or manage/coach when behaviors are wrong. A culture that just evolved may not be the culture the organization wants. But the organization’s culture can be designed and developed. It all starts with your credit union brand.

Brand training should be applied to modify behaviors and managers need to learn to coach to the desired behaviors. Ultimately everyone in the credit union will know how to interact and engaged each other, the member, vendors, and the community by using the mission, vision, and purpose and most important, living the credit union’s values.

To learn how human resources and marketing can work together to create a culture that lives, works and plays the mission, vision, values and purpose of the credit union, attend my presentation Leadership Culture—Creating a Consistent Leadership Style Across the Enterprise at the 2016 MAXX Convention on October 11-13.

Rich Jones is Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC, a strategic planning consultancy specialized in working with credit union’s data, digital, marketing and leadership strategies.

Posted in Marketing & Communications, MAXX Annual Convention, NWCUA.