Culture, branding and being real – why culture always beats strategy



Creative Director

I’m Kim a passionate marketer | Sharing growth insights for success | Proud founder of Squibble, empowering Midlands marketers to thrive by turning clunky websites into marketing joy | Let’s fuel your journey!


Culture, branding and being real – why culture always beats strategy 

Two weeks ago, the Squibble team were lucky enough to listen to a seminar from NAConsulting, hosted by Natwest. The day was based around the notion that “culture beats strategy” – and we have to say, we completely agree. But this got us to thinking – how many companies consider their culture? How many brands have even thought about what ‘culture’ really represents? Here we explain why we think culture truly does matter. And more to the point, how without a set culture, your branding really represents very little.

Let us first define exactly what culture is…

Culture is a set of habits – behaviours that allow groups of people to work together. Culture represents values that your employees hold, their attitude and motivations.

 “Culture drives innovation and whatever else you are trying to accomplish within a company — innovation, execution, whatever it’s going to be. And that then drives results”

Stephen Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks

The quote above came from a 2010 interview from Wall Street mover and shaker Stephen Sadove. Even seven years ago (when company culture was given relatively little attention), Sadove brought up a point that today remains more relevant than ever – that companies talk of results, strategies and business drivers far more than they do of leadership, people and culture.

When businesses focus solely on the former three, the strategies that are put in place can conflict with how people already behave, believe or operate. When, on the flip side of the coin, business performance is based on culture, results are driven by the people and defined by the employees. Where a vibrant, healthy culture exists, employee collaboration thrives – this is where acceptable, marketable ideas can be turned into award-winning products or services. When a productive culture is achieved, a business can be carried forward by its most invaluable assets – its people.

2017 is the year of authenticity…

The branding landscape is shifting once more, and a focus on authenticity is starting to be seen everywhere. On social media brands are connecting with consumers through genuine stories, sometimes genuine stories about their own consumers. On websites it’s out with the old, smiley stock images, and in with genuine photos of real teams. Today, people want to see who they’re dealing with behind the pixels and beyond the product. Authenticity should now be a core part of a company’s culture.

Branding and culture – Two partners that rely on one another

Before we move on the connection between branding and culture, let’s look at the relationship between marketing and branding. A completely on-point description of this (from no less than Robert Bean of Northstar Partners), is that marketing makes the promise that tempts the consumer, whilst branding is the “promise delivered”.

If branding is every element of your business – from every interaction with your employees, to the point of sale experience, then culture is core to the shaping and ensuring of your branding.

At Squibble Design, we design online experiences, rather than simply websites, and our brand-shaping, market-shaking strategies focus on all that our clients are – their values, their vibe, their culture. You see, we know how important culture really, truly is. And our web design process takes the hands of our clients and holds them through the process – with consultancy that defines a culture.

Read more about our web design services, find out about our own culture, or get in touch for a chat about what we could do for you.

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