This piece shared through a content partnership with Delivering Happiness and Zappos.
If you ask a dozen different business experts about how important branding is, they’ll probably agree it’s an essential part of any business strategy. If you ask those same experts for the best way to manage your brand, you’ll probably get twelve different answers.
One of the answers might be about advertising strategies or social media engagement. Others could be about prioritizing customer service, building relationships with the press, or partnering with a non-profit.
While those things are important, they aren’t necessarily addressing the root of what matters. Delivering Happiness believes a company’s brand and culture are two sides of the same coin. The best way to build a brand for the long term is by building, scaling, and sustaining a culture that reflects values you can truly commit to. That knowledge shapes every decision we make.
We’ve seen companies hang their core values and mission statements up on walls in break rooms and boardrooms, but if they’re just words that people read once and occasionally apply to their work, they’re meaningless. It’s not the actual words or values that matter; what matters most is that the company is aligned and committed to them.
Your company can have values that reflect your mission, passion and purpose. If there’s no commitment to investing the time and resources it takes to do things, like hire and fire based on values, they will end up being empty words on a wall. Culture should be at the center of every decision companies make.
As pervasive as the Internet is, branding isn’t restricted to the marketing department. A phone call, a blog post or a quick tweet at the right time and place could put your company’s name in front of thousands or millions of people.
You can’t control the way people talk about your company, but you can build a culture that’s in line with your values. If you’ve created and instilled a clear set of values with your employees — and are committed to living by them — then all of your employees become brand ambassadors in everything they do. No matter what happens, you can trust that engagements with the public and the press will authentically represent your company.
This could seem like it’s at odds with hiring the best, most talented people you can find, because if you’re committed to culture, that means potentially turning down rockstar applicants because they aren’t a culture fit. Zappos pays new employees to quit on the spot to sift out those who don’t share the same passion for doing whatever it takes to deliver happiness.
We underscore the importance of spending time with employees and fostering values because of this non-negotiable lesson learned: short-term gain that comes at the expense of a long-term, sustainable culture…is no gain at all.
In the end, it’s the single most important investment you can make. If you get the culture right, most of the stuff — like building your brand and delivering the best customer service — will take care of itself. Losing sight of that is like losing sight of why you created a company in the first place.