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What Comes First: The Brand or the Culture

June 11, 2020 | buchanandesign

What to Think About When Creating A Brand Identity With Lasting Power

In the marketplace, it is hard to argue that there are quite a few brands that have withstood the test of time. Some mostly due to their heritage or size such as Disney or Edison, but there are, however, a few that have attained their status because of the culture that was created within and around the brand itself. A few specific brands that come to mind would include Vans Skateboarding, PepsiCo, and Peet’s Coffee and Tea. While these brands may differ quite a bit, the common thread between them is how their culture has been completely woven into the organization!

This statement of course makes us ask a specific question: is the culture of a company driven by the brand strategy, or does the brand reflect the culture?

While it could be argued that these two elements are completely connected and could not exist without each other, at Buchanan Brand + Design, our general philosophy is that the brand primarily reflects the culture. When a company begins the process of creating a new brand identity, the leadership should take the time to really reflect on themselves and the type of company they want to create. Their brand should be a natural extension of their culture, which should be easily expressed to their audience.

When we begin our creative process for helping a company develop its new brand identity, it is imperative to our strategy that we make sure we are asking the right questions. A few of our favorite questions include but are not limited to:

  • Can you describe your brand personality?
  • What adjectives best describe your organization or company?
  • What are your vision and mission statements?
  • What do your consumers think of you?
  • What motivates, inspires, or interests your audience?

An effective branding strategy takes all the answers into consideration and helps shape the messaging that will ultimately resonate with everyone in the company. The finished brand will stand as a constant reminder that will enhance and grow the culture of an organization.

One of my favorite examples of a culture that was created around the brand is Peet’s Coffee and Tea. If you were not aware, their employees refer to themselves on a daily basis as “Peetniks”. The company was able to create this branded nickname which helps unify their culture through an inclusive membership element. What this does is helps the employees feel connected to the mission statement, values, and overarching beliefs that Peet’s represents. This is the power that successful branding can have on the overall benefit of an organization!

To take things one step farther, In some cases brands and culture can even save companies from misfortunate circumstances and PepsiCo is a great example of this. In 1993, their company suffered an insufferable amount of claims that consumers were discovering screws, sewing needles, and even syringes in their cans of soda. PepsiCo quickly denied these reports and let their employees know that these accusations were false. Following this announcement, the employees started helping the cause right away by releasing videos and evidence that the company was in fact innocent. Their brand identity was so strong that their employees trusted their values and culture enough to help deny the false claims and assist in reinstating PepsiCo as a market leader.

The list of examples of companies with strong brands and cultures goes on and on. There are even new brands that are emerging all of the time. It is never too late to assess where your company’s identity stands and if your culture is a true representation of your brand. If you or someone you know is currently in the process of looking to create or recreate a brand identity, our team at Buchanan Brand + Design would welcome an opportunity to help! We can help ensure that you have a healthy company culture by defining your company’s personality, logo identity, tagline, color & type systems, and brand standards. We would be happy to hop on a discovery call and walk you through some of these first big questions.

We can’t wait to work with you!

Branding, Perspective

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