When I was doing research on ‘culture branding’ a term we started using when we launched our employer branding product, I found a lot of articles about how the two are intertwined. Titles like “Want a great brand? build a great culture”, “Why your company should match your brand” and “External employer branding must reflect internal culture” explained the importance of culture for both business success’ and talent acquisition. 

Yet, I also found out that only 19 percent of employees see a strong match between how the company represents itself and the actions they experience while working there. 

Is this really true? And why there is such a big gap between expectations and reality?

Speaking of which led me to another Google search: ‘work expectations vs reality’, where I found a trending video of funny office situations we are all very familiar with. Guess how many views? 5 million and counting, and it has only been posted about a year ago. A video on ‘How to survive your first day at work’ received 478k views. I mean, isn’t work supposed to be a safe and fun place to be at? Why would we need to survive it? 

But I do understand that it can be terrifying to start a new job, we all want to be liked, fit into the team as soon as possible, maybe even become friends with your co-workers. We also want to have a purpose in what we do, all while checking off our daily to do’s and meeting our project deadlines. 

And then we start thinking about how many hours of our lives are dedicated to our job, that from time to time we have to pinch ourselves to ‘stay woke’ in order to not get a burn- or bore-out. Sometimes we feel obliged to attend company activities or to work long hours, coming home to just eat, sleep and repeat the same day routine tomorrow. 

And in our mind the only thing we actually want is to ‘Do what you love, so you’ll never work a day in your life’ – type of work. 

Of course, I’m generalizing right now, but it’s not new that keeping a balance between working and private life is a challenge for many of us, and if I may speak for myself personally, sometimes the struggle is real. There are so many incentives and expectations from the outside world – that more and more I teach myself to say no to certain things and be selective with what I do. 

Now, I must say, am blessed with the opportunity to actually do what I love, so work doesn’t feel like an obligation, but I do get that some people are not connected to brands they work for in the same way I am. Thus resist to identify themselves with where they work. 

Let’s look into a couple of reasons why this happens and how being more transparent about your brand and culture could solve this.

Possible reasons why we get a job:

  • money/status 
  • survive/get by/hustle (pay the bills & food, be able to take care of the family)
  • social reasons (interact, help or entertain people)
  • because we love what we do/we feel connected to the brand

What’s most important for you doing this job?

  • brand identity/recognition
  • the people I work with
  • the working environment/location
  • my daily responsibilities/growth

Now let’s investigate a couple of scenarios why we think we don’t belong and see if being transparent about the brand, culture and job responsibilities could help to get rid of that feeling. 

The reason why we think we don’t belong:

  • What I do as a job does not define who I am
  • The brand is not human
  • I’m just a number
  • Bad recruitment process
  • Mismatch industry
  • Mismatch in external – internal image: people/environment/culture  
  • Mismatch responsibilities/no growth opportunities

Also, things like diversity and inclusion are a part of it. I’m not going to dive too deep into this subject, but it definitely deserves more attention in general. Thanks to Homerun you can read more on it here.

A question: do you really enjoy your current job? Do you fit the role and the company culture? 

If you answered the question with ‘yes’, then you probably do feel some type of connection with the brand-led culture.

If the answer is ‘no’ because of one of the reasons stated above, and you keep doing this job, then you’re possibly not the right person to represent the company or the company does it all wrong. Because I truly do believe that your job should be an extension of who you are, at least it has to energize you the moment you wake up. 

In this case, we should find ways to align the expectations to match reality. 

How to make your brand human? And how to make your people the heart of your product?

According to Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company in an article of Harvard Business Review:

“The new “power couple” inside the best companies was an ironclad partnership between marketing leadership and HR leadership. Your brand is your culture, your culture is your brand.” 

That being said, it can be challenging to align the brand and culture within large organizations, so ideally both should be tailored regionally. Of course, there should be a worldwide consistency, but you can’t approach everybody the same way. 

The art of culture branding is being able to reflect the internal experience externally. Culture branding always starts inside. Being proud of your daily job means that you’re not afraid to talk about it to your friends, family, and acquaintances. This is good in two ways: people hear about it from a reliable source and indirectly feel positive about that company.  

So to make sure people within your organization feel this way, they need to understand how your product/service adds value for customers, why your brand is different from the competition, and not focusing on ‘what’ you are doing as a company, but ‘how’ you do it and ‘who’ is behind it. Your approach to work is what makes you unique and what gives you personality. 

There are plenty of examples in different industries where brand and culture go hand in hand, but here is one that speaks to me, personally, the most: Ace & Tate (B2C)

Why?

  • Design-driven company
  • Customer service is more important than sales
  • For their marketing campaigns, Ace & Tate uses user-generated content. By involving the customers to promote their products they can keep their marketing costs relatively low
  • Customers reflect the employees
  • Ace & Tate also cares for other causes that speak to their audience; such as mental health (A-Z Guide on Optimism), music (Appelsap festival) and they do all types of collabs with artists and creatives (Career girls podcast).

They are basically promoting the lifestyle of their employees externally, this way attracting future colleagues and serving customers at the same time. And in the end, people who work at your company are your best customers.

Here at Flipbase, we also make our people the heart of the product. Our product is our video technology (B2B) for candidate screening and employer and culture branding. We make it easy for companies to add video to their communications. From applying with video, to gathering user-generated content which you can add to your company website, job ads, and social media channels. 

This visual way of communication gives organizations the ability to be transparent about their culture and who’s behind the product. Knowing these personalities, people can relate and eventually become your community. That’s super important because indirectly you create a pool of new potential employees. They are being attracted internally first, resulting in the feeling of already knowing you. So the chance that the right people to apply at your company is much higher. It also makes it easier to onboard these employees and keep them happy. Again people who work at your company are your best customers. 

Take a look at our Instagram for example:

We don’t really mention our video technology on our Instagram account. Yet we do show our culture in video, you can meet our team and see how our days look like. Indirectly we show our customers how to use our product, instead of promoting what it is. There are so many video technologies, but we try to differentiate ourselves with our culture and knowledge of how to apply our technology to use.

How to make it work in practice? Where to start?

So what are the secret ingredients of culture branding? As we have seen in the examples above, focus on ‘how’ you do it and ‘who’ is behind your product or service. Talking to your employees to understand their motivation to work at your company and hear about their experiences is where it all starts. 

360° culture branding with photo and video

  1. Talk to your employees to gather information about their experiences and motivation
  2. Create brand aesthetics. Building a brand is more than randomly post pictures and videos or create updates just for the sake of creation, without any context.
    Thus:
  3. Have a clear brand identity guidelines: color palette, logo, graphics, fonts. Stick to it.
  4. Take photos of the office environment and your team, be creative with it! Show your personalities.
  5. Create video formats; for example: introduce the team, ‘a day of’, ‘how-to’, culture, onboarding.
  6. Launch an internal campaign to let your people know that you are going to create a video culture. This step is essential for adoption, so everyone is aligned and participating.
  7. Involve the team in creating content (video) frequently sending out invites to record videos based on the created formats. This way you consistently can update your channels. We can help you out to set up this flow with our employer branding video platform. 
  8. Give your team time to create and practice! By training them a relatively new skill you also add value to their experience at your company.
  9. Encourage to share their video stories online, so they also work on their personal branding. 
  10. Remember, building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and consistent in your communications & content creation. 
  11. Find external causes & collabs that fit your culture and brand and capture these moments in photo and video. Share it with your community and interact with them. 

I’m sure you’ll create a connection! 🙂 

Do you want to know more about how to brand your culture with video? I am speaking about it during the Video Marketing Meetup @ Growth Tribe HQ in Amsterdam on Wednesday 9th of October. The entrance is free, so if you are around, come say hi! We are there from 16 onwards. Hope to see you there!