Godwin Bonge Muhwezi
Powerful brands are associated with cultural attributes that make the brands stand out. A brand culture is the basis for communicating the brand’s values and unique attributes in a way that differentiates it from competition.
Jean-Noël Kapferer,a renowned brand expert, defines culture as “the set of values feeding the brand’s inspiration. It is the source of the brand’s aspirational power”.
Culture involves values that inspire people behind the brand to behave in a certain way. It gives a brand its personality and a source of the brand’s aspirational power.
The brand culture should have the ability to permeate to people behind the brand to demonstrate the true brand values consistently to create a strong cultural association.
Organisational culture has a direct impact on brand culture. Employees are the best brand ambassadors since they are at the forefront of customer interactions with the brand.
Creating a differentiated brand culture is a result of focussing on people responsible for creating the brand experience. For instance, behind a caring brand there is an army of employees who feel treasured and cared for by the company.
Iconic brands have managed to create a cult following by focusing on delivering unique brand experience. Customers’ interactions with the brand define the value that they drive from the brand which is a key ingredient in generating unique brand experience.
I conic brands often invest in creating a strong organisational culture that permeates to its customers and subsequently defines the brand culture.
To create a strong culture, brands need to create aspirational values that define their outward expression to create a differentiated experience.
Nike emerged as a leading brand in the Sportswear category by promoting a culture of innovation with “Just Do It” culture.
Derrick Daye of Brand Strategy Insider identifies the following elements of powerful brand cultures:
- A strong sense of purpose as a result of vision, mission, and values that ensure that brands stand for ideas that drive its people to a common goal.
- Storylinesthat give brands a “unified sense of direction”.
- Experiencesthat bring people together
One of the key differentiators of a brand is its ability to create a cult following which is a result of a strong culture.
A brand is a culture. There is no cult brand without a brand culture. A brand should have its own culture, from which every product derives. The product is not only a concrete representation of this culture, but also a means of communication.
A brand is driven by reputation and perception, what others say about the brand. The brand story is a combination of what the brand communicates coupled with customer experiences, and the story that the media. Public Relations therefore play a critical role in defining the brand story and subsequently shape perceptions and the brand image.
Customer experiences of the brand define their perceptions of the brand. Employees’ day-to-day interactions with customers define the actual brand experience which subsequently defines brand perceptions which forms part of the company’s brand identity and culture.
Experiences with customer-facing staff is a key driver of corporate reputation. Superior customer experience results into experiences that will define the customer’s perception of a particular brand.
Creating a strong brand culture involves focusing on creating a superior experience among people behind the brand as this impacts on customer interactions with the brand.
The Writer is the Managing Partner at Brand Power Consulting and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).