How does company culture affect your brand?

Employee actions mirror your brand’s values and beliefs

This year, we have witnessed several prominent brands take a public media hit due to action of their employees. For all the time, treasure, and talent that’s invested in creating a trusted brand, it only takes one careless action to reveal a corporate culture that has lost its way.

Brands that lost their way

UBER – executive at a private dinner floated the idea of digging up dirt on selected female reporters and their families as a way to control what was reported on the company’s activities. The comment was leaked and a firestorm ignited, resulting in intense scrutiny from national news media and women deleting the UBER ride-sharing app from their smart phone.

National Football League – dressing their players in pink to support breast cancer research did little to cover up a disturbing pattern of violence towards women as captured on an elevator security camera when a star running back threw a wicked left hook that connected with his wife’s jaw. The YouGov Brand index score for the NFL fell from a yearlong high of 36 to 17 in a short four-day period.

General Motors – Congressional hearings and recalls of over 6 million vehicles did little to instill faith that GM has turned itself around. What it did demonstrate is that CEOs of large corporations can take a plausible deniability position and get away with it.

Brands that lead by example

TOMS Shoes – founded on a belief that brands should give something back to the community, TOMS created One-to-One®. With each new shoe purchase, a new pair of TOMS is given to a child through one of their 100+ shoe giving partners. TOMS has given away more that 35 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

Southwest Airlines – one of the first companies to recognize that their employees are front line brand ambassadors. SWA’s Adopt-A-Pilot is a four-week program where over 1,500 pilots participate in classroom activities bringing science, geography, and math to life. SWA foots the bill for all classroom materials as the students track their adopted pilots’ travels from flying the plane to interacting with other aviation professionals. This and many other community outreach programs make SWA one of the most respected brands in the industry.

Brands are known by their point of view

While brands may not be human entities, they are known by their actions. There are many ways that brands can lead by example, from reducing their carbon footprint by investing in cleaner technologies to supporting their communities through the volunteer efforts of their employees. Today, people want to support brands that have a social conscience and are working towards a greater good.

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