Building a Creative Brand Culture
by Adwright, 25 November 2021
Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, once said, “Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.”
Company culture has been an oft-mentioned topic ever since people started paying attention to how the daily running of a company can translate to better business and sales results. And rightly so, as just like what Chesky opines, a company with a strong corporate culture will be able to focus on improving productivity and chasing innovation in the time freed up from setting bureaucratic rules and excessive regulations. Culture is to a company what social fabric is to a country. It is the glue that binds its people, and it constantly evolves with new changes, happenings and ideas. We may not notice it developing on a day-to-day basis. However, if you just take a moment to look back at how your company has changed from a year since, you might be surprised that a vast transformation took place unknowingly before your very eyes.
How well does a brand know its culture?
Brand culture is like an invisible glue that helps a company succeed in meeting its goals. To understand an organisation’s culture, it is imperative to conduct audit sessions internally and externally. The more values of the staff and customers concur with the brand’s values, the more likely the brand is to succeed.
Some of the barriers that impeded brand and culture alignment identified through a brand audit:
No tradition of cooperation
Staff in the same organisation may have different views about their brand’s values and may not understand them. Hence, the departments or teams fail to cooperate and pull against themselves.
Lack of company-wide communications
People do not understand what they do not know. Without proper communication channels and brand alignment, people and teams are confused or doubt the leaders. These non-verbal behaviours lead to inherent resentment that may create a toxic work culture and environment.
Overemphasis on results; non-human environment
In this time and age, the younger generation of staff prefers a work-life balance environment. Should an organisation focus primarily on results, it may have to rethink its remuneration and benefits to keep the team and prevent burnout.
Hence, understanding and auditing the brand values and culture is an important task to give meaning to employees and customers, to give staff a common cause, to provide them with a meaning for coming to work.
Company culture differs across different organisational structures, industries, and geographical regions. Interestingly, according to an online assessment conducted by Harvard Business Review that garnered 12,800 responses from readers all across the globe, “caring” and “results” were the most salient culture attributes across respondents’ organisations, reflecting a general orientation towards collaboration and achievement in the workplace. These two attributes were voted the first and second respectively among eight factors – caring, results, purpose, learning, safety, order, authority and enjoyment.
Different regions value specific culture attributes. This shows the malleability of company culture, the extent to which it can be moulded and shaped. There is ultimately no right or wrong mix of culture attributes.
Now take a closer look at the attributes aforementioned, and you will find that perhaps a quality that has been highly sought after in recent years is not included.
Creativity. What do we understand by the phrase “creative culture”? Can we, and if we can, how do we measure or quantify “culture” and “creativity”, not to mention “creative culture”? Is “creative culture” applicable to manufacturing industries, logistic or cleaning services, or mainly advertising agencies and marketing companies?
Creativity is invisible from the product, and it is the by-product of producing a good or service. It is seen from the process. It is a mindset, not what we do but how we go about doing it. Creativity can and should be incorporated into any company’s culture and day-to-day work, no matter what job appointment or which industry. It can be applied to even the most menial tasks, whether sweeping the floor or packing the stocks in a warehouse. Humans cannot read minds. But we manage to figure out what each other is thinking through our words, actions and body language. Similarly, we cannot quantify creativity empirically, but the behaviour is sufficient to provide an indication.
Now that we have demystified the term “creative company culture”, let us look at five ways to instil it into the workplace.
Allowing all voices to be heard, no matter the position or level of authority
Everyone in the office has a say. All employees should be treated with respect from the top decision-maker to the newest intern on her first day at work. Their views and opinions are taken into serious consideration. More often than not, companies miss out on the next biggest idea or fail to innovate because employees are afraid to share their valuable input and feedback, which people in the top brass may fail to recognise.
You do not need to look beyond our shores to find an example. When we were working with JUMBO Group of Restaurants to create the new consumer products brand Love, Afare, the management adopts a consultative style of approach in their decision-making process and they listen to all voices.
Offering constructive criticism
Encourage the building of ideas. Piggyback on the suggested views and opinions given, no matter how far-fetched or nonsensical it may seem. Rather than shut down these ideas completely, think about how you can expand on the concept, bring in a different perspective or work with something similar. Creativity is the ability to develop original ideas to think out of the box, and there is no better way to hone this skill than through collaboration. This practice can be seen in local cloud-based tech company The Oddle Company which revolutionised the online food ordering scene in Singapore through its Oddle Eats initiative – enabling users to order food online from a one-stop food directory. This innovative company embraces diversity in opinions and the right to “agree to disagree” as long as it is for the betterment and progress of the company.
Providing a work environment that cultivates creativity
If your office is a plain four white walls with cubicles, meeting rooms and offices for top management, the high chance is that it is not a creative one. Creativity can be inspired through thoughts and emotions evoked by images. Furthermore, organisations can stimulate their imagination to remind how a brand retains originality in its daily operations. De’Longhi, the Italian coffee machine and kitchen appliance manufacturer, is known to use its very own coffee machines in their office, allowing employees to put themselves in the shoes of their very own consumers. This enables them to think from their consumers’ point of view and come up with creative methods to improve their products and create campaigns that resonate with their consumers.
Building a tight-knit community
A bonded team will consistently achieve more than a team like a pack of loose sand. When we are close to our teammates, we look out for one another, and the care to help and support each other comes innately from within. We can be our true natural selves without putting on a ‘work façade’ whenever we step through the office doors. Knowing that we are in a safe environment where others know us well enough and do not judge us allows our creativity to thrive naturally.
Giving employees sufficient autonomy and flexibility
Stop micro-managing people. Giving staff clear general guidelines and allowing them to check back for clarification is more productive than hand-holding. We all have different working styles. There is no one-size-fits-all method. Why not embrace all these different styles and allow each of them to shine through?
Ed Catwell, President of Pixar, nicely summarises what it means to have a creative company culture. In his words, “A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions and criticisms. Lack of candour, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.”
At Adwright, we take pride in conducting brand audit sessions to uncover a brand’s culture to help brands stand out from the inside out. Every company has its uniqueness, and that can be a competitive edge. We believe that an aligned brand culture will bring about the success of a brand. For over 20 years, Adwright has collaborated with clients ranging from local SMEs to global corporations, spanning across many industries. We provide integrated solutions in branding, design, communications and beyond. Partner with us and embark on your unique brand journey today. To find out more about the services that Adwright provides, call us today at +65 6227 7227 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.