Ward Alles

Core Exchange: CEO to CEO: Why your brand is important to your culture

By Ward Alles on February 9, 2016

CEO to CEO: Why your brand is important to your culture


Tom: The impact a brand promise has on a company’s culture is pretty significant. When a company looks at aligning something like that, who owns that conversation or that initiative?

Ward: It always starts at the top. Really, employees are going to follow the leader. Without that vision, without that initiative being kind of driven top down, I know we kind of apologize for that in corporate America these days, we don’t want too much to come from the top down because we’re trying to blow up the traditional military top down model. Without the vision from the leader, the people are kind of rudderless.

Tom: You talk about leadership, but there’s also leaders are people who inspire, make it happen. It’s the CEO giving that empowerment to his management team to really lead the efforts within their parts of the organization?

Ward: That’s a great question and it’s an important challenge that the CEO’s got to overcome because you’re right on, not everybody’s wired into the same question. We all go to work trying to accomplish a different objective. The CEO wants everybody to be wired into the question of why, what’s the meaning and purpose behind this organization? The different departments within a company, they’re all wired into different questions.

Tom: Sure.

Ward: Let me show you, I’ll just draw it out very quickly in a quadrant. I saw a presenter once, a business consultant by the name of Ian McDougall, draw this out once. He said that there’s basically four departments within any company. One is in charge of invention and their question is, “Why not?” Makes sense, right? They’re supposed to be inventing, right?

Tom: Innovation, right.

Ward: R and D. Another area is production. Their question is supposed to be, “What?” What mark should we hit? What’s a good sales figure? What are we making? That’s what they’re wired to care about.

Tom: Yep.

Ward: Another department, Admin. These are the “How” people. They want to know how can we make the processes within the company more efficient, how can we drive out costs out of an organization?

Finally, there’s an area of the company called Integration. It has to do with more like HR, even internal branding, corporate communications. That has to do with the question of, “Who?” So here comes then the CEO and he wants, he or she, wants everybody to be worried about the question, “Why?” Right? What he has to do now is to get everybody within those different departments connect their thoughts, their questions, to his bigger question. He’s got to make it relevant for them, otherwise, they’ll gloss over it and they’ll fold back into their natural setting of, “Why not, what, how?”

Tom: Sure, so “why” kind of becomes that purpose that brings everything together, it’s that connecting piece across all parts of the company. If you were to look at a business owner as CEO and just give them one piece of advice of how they can pick up part of what you’ve been able to do here at Core and bring it into their business, what would that be?

Ward: I would emphasize that internal brand and engaging everybody so that they understand why they go work every day, what their role is in it, engage them in it. The highly engaged employee generally has higher satisfaction levels, is more productive, is retained longer. Look at all the benefits that are derived by saying, “This is what this company stands for. This is why I get up and go to work for this company every day. This is why I’d like you to be part of the organization.”

Tom: We believe in the same things, we care about the same things.

The internal brand, it’s really what Core Creative is all about in terms of helping our clients understand what their brand promises, communicated internally first, so that the employees then can go out and make it happen for the customers.