How a company’s mission, brand and culture tie together can signal whether the organization has a successful model to build for the future.
All three elements have a specific role and purpose, yet they often may intersect: Indeed, Target’s website announces, "Our mission and values work together to foster connections and conversations both inside and outside our doors.”
For the long-term, sustained growth of an organization, the mission, brand and culture should work together.
Here’s some ideas to get started in the right direction or what to consider if leaders sense a company has gone off course as a result of contradicting messages, vision or purpose.
1. Keep the mission statement in mind to inspire the central direction. A mission statement defines what an organization is, why it exists and its reason for being. It conveys what the company hopes to achieve over a period of time and signals to customers, potential customers, brokers, suppliers and employees the very reason for the organization's existence.
If the mission is specific and carries a strong purpose, then the leadership team can guide employees confidently, and they will know how to expend their energy to better the company.
And the mission statement can propel employees to think beyond their job functions -- about how to continually improve a company’s financial outlook and the organization's role in the global community.
With a strong mission in place, a company can not only build a strong corporate culture but also create a brand that speaks to the sensibility of the organization beyond its product or service.
2. Build the company culture's in the eyes of employees. A company's culture includes the organization’s values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits, from the inside out. It also embodies the internal movement, habits and overall feeling experienced by employees about the employer. If the culture is strong, this furthers the mission. Company culture is sometimes shared with vendors, suppliers and even customers.
When building a culture so that the company can become an employer of choice, leaders need to engage employees in a way that solicits open, honest and creative feedback.
3. Sustain more than a strong brand. A company brand is not just what appears on a label. It's the philosophy shared with customers. The brand conveys the persona, characteristics, values and qualities imbued in a product, why it's unique from the competition.
A brand tells a story and can promote the product and can also point to the organization's mission and culture. For example, Zappos says it “delivers happiness.” This promotional model has worked well: Though everyone knows Zappos sells shoes, its epic people-management practices are also recognized.
4. Understand how the three elements can build on one another. Company leaders need to fully understand the interplay between these elements and be able and willing to clearly convey, as one like-minded group, how all three affect the organization’s purpose.
The mission can inform the brand and culture when everyone within the organization and outside to knows the purpose, desire and focus of the organization.
The brand is the very tip of the organization’s spear. When potential customers consider a product or service, an emotional response is evoked, good, bad or indifferent. Geico, for example, conjures up the image of the gecko, a little Australian accented, speaking animal who conveys a feeling beyond a product or service. The gecko’s job is to sell cute, fun and clever thinking that is tied back into the company’s main purpose, selling insurance.
Motivated by the culture and driven by the mission, employees can be very much a part of a company’s brand when they engage with consumers in delivering a product or service. They create the customer experience that's so important for sales.
Although a company’s culture does not play into the customer experience as directly as the brand does, it affects the organization’s single most dynamic, inspirational and passionate resource: its employees.