Internal Brand Culture — The Secret Ingredient Behind Unique Customer Experience
An Amazon’s customer recently bought an item in the USA before leaving for India. After reaching India, he observed that the product didn’t work. He called Amazon India customer care and informed them the situation without much hope. To his surprise, they immediately refunded his money, provided him additional coupons, and they allowed him to keep the product too. It’s surprising to know that Amazon customer care executives have freedom to take decisions over the phone and provide a quick solution.
Employees are responsible for breakthrough customer experiences and those employees are shaped by the company’s culture.
Employees of a company act as brand ambassadors, they are the interface between internal and external environments. They influence the powerful perception of the brand in consumer’s mind. Their behaviour can reinforce the brand value, and if it is inconsistent, it will undermine the credibility of the brand. Whatever the brand perception a senior management like to create in a user’s mind has to be reflected in their employees. It simply means “Great brands have Strong Internal Culture”
Brand’s culture is shaped by the Vision — Brand’s core purpose- the reason for existence and its core values. Vision is the system of guiding principles that communicate values to employees, inspire them and help them to know how their roles create an impact.
Amazon’s Vision is to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” and main strengths of work culture are
- Customer obsession — start with the customer and work backwards
- Employees are owners
- Speed matters(Customers appreciate the quick solutions)
- Dive Deep, Invent and simplify.
In 2002, IBM was struggling and had a stagnant, insular culture. IBM’s new CEO Palmisano determined to put the company on a new path.
Palmisano recognised,”Clever advertising or freshened-up logo will be a pointless exercise if there are cultural problems within the company that prevents delivery of any new initiatives”.
So, his starting point was to cultivate a strong, shared internal culture that aligns and integrates with new brand promise, which can be delivered to customers. Palmisano collected contributions from every employee regarding the values underlying the IBM brand.
The outcome of the research was
- Dedication to every client’s success
- Innovation that matters
- Trust and Personality in all relationships.
IBM went on impart those values to every employee to make IBM brand distinctive and valuable.
“We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people.” -Howard Schultz, Founder and CEO of Starbucks.
His vision inspired Starbucks to provide a social environment where people not only come for great coffee but also to connect to a certain culture — Nurture the human spirit; one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
Starbuck’s Vision drives the culture -
- Connect with, laugh with and uplift the lives of our customers — even if just for a few moments, it’s really about human connection
- Stores to be full of humanity — should be a break from the outside worries for a customer, the place where they can enjoy with friends, can be savoured with wonderful memories.
- No compromise on quality — Exhibited through Lighting, furniture, fixtures, artwork, music, aromas, colours, menu boards, counters, localised experience, cleanliness, transparency with vendors, open communication, environmentalism, shared social responsibility, taste.
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete” This statement was the driving force behind Nike.
“The culture is sort of like an individual’s personality. Nike’s culture is not the same as me. Nike’s culture is young and irreverent and I’m neither. It comes from the people, comes from the athletes we’ve dealt over the years.” — Phil Knight, Founder, Nike.
Nike fosters a Creative, Innovative culture, stresses every employee to gain knowledge on sport, athletes and understand the needs of athletes. Nike encourages the employee to stay fit, look after wellness of families and strive to create a positive working environment, which inspires employees to get involved and be brand ambassadors.
Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline inspired millions of users to achieve their goals and aspirations. Nike’s working environment was designed to reflect the “Just Do It” attitude — A place to explore, go beyond the boundaries — seeks people who are ready to take the risk, create & pursue greatness, who like to dream and grow as visionaries and leaders.
How will you know that you have imbibed the culture?
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. The janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!” (This maybe a story -Not sure)
When anyone asks my employee, “What are you doing?” and he says “I’m a design engineer working as a plastic part designer”, then I haven’t imbibed the right culture to my team. If he has said that he is working towards “Transforming life of people, building a sustainable environment”, then the vision has transferred to the culture.
One evidence is when former employees remain proud of their earlier association and contributions to the brand’s success.
Research shows that brands with strong internal coherent culture have outperformed brands that do not have those cultural traits by a huge margin. When your company culture aligns with your brand, it provides a lasting positive impact on all your areas of business.
Reference — What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee