November 17, 2013

Brand as Culture:

Achieving your objectives through a strong brand culture

Mark Minelli, President and CEO, Minelli, Inc.
Mark Ruckman, Research & Strategy, Minelli, Inc.

Since the birth of modern advertising and marketing in the middle of the last century, brand has been the critical asset for companies to create distinction and market recognition. And in the age of social media, with customers becoming more empowered and vocal, brand creates opportunities to engage, listen, learn, and adapt to a rapidly changing consumer landscape.

In response to these rapid changes in communications and our increasingly interconnected world, brand is also becoming a key driver in shaping an organization’s culture. Organizational culture generally refers to the shared set of values, beliefs, symbols, and behaviors that reflect the essence of the organization or company. Based on our work with clients over the past 20+ years, we have discovered that building a strong organizational culture requires uniting leaders, staff, and their communities of interest under a common purpose and providing tools to help them achieve it – in essence creating a unified brand identity.

Never has culture been a more mission-critical issue for business. Recent employee research conducted by Towers Watson identifies several differentiators that set financially successful companies apart from their competitors. The surveys were designed to uncover the cultural elements that influence employee behavior and help organizations achieve a specific set of business and financial results. These cultural elements were measured within a set of strategic priorities including efficiency, quality, innovation, customer service, and company image.

The cultural profile[1] that high-performing organizations manage to achieve and sustain as it relates to company image (brand) include:

• Embedded understanding and acceptance of brand promise
• Strong belief in product or service provided
• Deep pride in shared company values
• Integrity guiding all business practices
• Work environment explicitly reflects external brand
• Leadership that inspires confidence and respect

Similarly, two Harvard Business School professors, James Heskett and John Kotter, examined the impact that organizational culture has on financial performance. They were able to quantify the difference in financial results over an eleven-year period between twelve companies that did and twenty companies that did not have a strong corporate culture:[2]

Average Increase for Twelve Firms with Performance-Enhancing Cultures Average Increase for Twenty Firms without Performance-Enhancing Cultures
Revenue Growth 682% 166%
Employment Growth 282% 36%
Stock Price Growth 901% 74%
Net Income Growth 756% 1%

So clearly, it’s no secret that aligning your culture with your strategic objectives can help your organization achieve greater business success. But for many of organizations this is easier said than done. Often leadership struggles to even reach clear agreement on strategic priorities let alone align them with the necessary cultural traits to support the strategy. And strategic alignment is just one element in the toolkit for building a strong culture.

Your values and how they are modeled throughout the organization will be echoed and amplified in the marketplace whether you want them to or not. By tapping into emotions, beliefs, and ideas in ways that are relevant, inspirational, and actionable, brand works to shape perception and build engagement in the marketplace. hosting information . Brand can be extremely effective in unleashing the potential of an organization’s most precious asset – the loyalty, passion, and creativity of the people who work for and with you.

We’ve identified the following five key drivers for engaging brand to strengthen culture:

  1. Tap the power of emotion. Unleash the power of emotional storytelling to engage people and shape behavior. Brand unites our hopes and aspirations behind our shared humanity.

  2. Marry vision and strategy. Tie organizational ambitions to a set of values that are an integral part of business strategy. Brand embodies values and provides the means to express them in real world applications.

  3. Build bridges. Transcend departmental silos and other barriers to create common ground and common goals. Brand gives voice to universal ideas and motivations through highly iconic language.

  4. Unlock hidden potential. Foster innovation across your entire organization by enabling freedom within a framework. Brand provides an open structure for ideas to be captured, filtered, and acted upon.

  5. Lead by design. Employ design thinking to develop simple, elegant solutions to difficult problems. Brand communicates complex ideas using the ultimate minimalistic visual and verbal vocabulary.

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See related case study

[1] Bringing Strategy to Life: Aligning your corporate culture with business goals. Towers Watson, 2010.

<p?[2] James Heskett and John Kotter, Corporate Culture and Performance. Free Press, 2011.
November 15, 2013

Ninety-One Percent Of Brands Do Not Budget For Innovation — Why Marketing Leaders Must Change Culture to Avoid Disruption

See on Scoop.itbrand as culture

I published a report based on a Q2 2013 survey that benchmarked marketing innovation culture and indicated that most marketers are still not investing enough to accelerate their innovation efforts.

Mark Minelli‘s insight:

interesting survey from Forrester. If you want to innovate, you need to instill it in the dna of the brand and support it with time and $$$.

See on domain list .


Aligning Organizational Culture in a Global NGO


Through innovative programs and groundbreaking partnerships, Pact has been leading sustainable development efforts around the world since 1971. Working in over 25 countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, Pact enables lasting solutions in the areas of health, livelihoods, and natural resource management. Pact’s vision is for a world where those who are poor and marginalized exercise their voice, build their own solutions, and take ownership over their future.

Under the direction of new leadership and armed with a new strategic plan, Pact had arrived at a critical juncture in its 40-year history. Facing a shifting donor landscape and a poorly aligned internal culture, the organization needed to reinvigorate its brand to raise awareness and attract new funders. Minelli, Inc. was selected as their strategic partner in rebranding the organization.

Having never been through a comprehensive branding process, Pact did not have a strong central identity. And with nearly 200 million dollars in revenue, Pact was the biggest NGO nobody had heard of. The complexity of their business model was also leading to inconsistent and confusing messaging. The new brand needed to unite a global workforce and resonate across multiple regions, cultures, and languages.

Pact’s promise is a world where resource-dependent communities gain lasting benefits from the sustainable use of the natural resources. By attracting more funding and stronger partners, Pact is better able to generate effective and localized solutions in each of the countries in which it works. Translating Pact’s vision and the complex work of the organization into an emotionally resonant idea has been essential in empowering communities to make their own resource management decisions.

Pact was struggling to build name recognition in today’s saturated market. Founded as a membership organization, under the acronym P.A.C.T. (‘private agencies collaborating together’), Pact dissolved is membership structure and dropped the acronym in 1992. However, the organization had never fully embraced the power inherent in its new name: Pact is a promise. We found that the notion of a promise has resonance across Pact’s diverse cultures and languages while providing a simple, unifying message.

Forging more lucrative partnerships allows Pact to keep its promise to facilitate healthy lives, decent livelihoods, and sustainable natural resources that benefit communities. Following the branding exercise, Pact continues to attract additional, diverse donor funding. Most notably, the organization has been awarded grants by multinational General Electric and one of America’s oldest private foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation. These wins can be in part attributed to Pact’s more clearly defined brand and role within international development.

The Organizational Heath Index measured Pact’s current operating culture and found a 100% improvement in respect to last year’s indicators, demonstrating that the new brand played a key role in helping Pact evolve and embrace a constructive global culture. This marked improvement includes the organization’s staff showing a nearly 30% shift in individual goal setting. Additionally, the organization saw a positive increase regarding internal communication with a 25% jump from the year before.

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About Minelli, Inc.

Minelli, Inc. is an innovative brand strategy and design firm. Our work creates momentum and positive change for organizations by making their vision understandable and beautiful. We call this unique process “vision made visible” and have successfully used it to forge internal alignment and drive external awareness for an extremely diverse range of clients.