Culture vs Brand or Culture + Brand?

The culture of an organisation is so inextricably linked to its brand. Cultures surround us all. Cultures are deep seated, pervasive and complex.

Yet, according to Edgard Schein, "Organizational learning, development, and planned change cannot be understood without considering culture as the primary source of resistance to change."

And, "The bottom line for leaders is that if they do not become conscious of the cultures in which they are embedded, those cultures will manage them. Cultural understanding is desirable for all of us, but it is essential to leaders if they are to lead".

With the Three Levels of Culture, Edgard Schein offered an important contribution to defining what organizational culture actually is.

Schein divides organizational culture into three levels:

Artifacts:these "artifacts" are at the surface, those aspects (such as dress) which can be easily discerned, yet are hard to understand;

Espoused Values: beneath artifacts are "espoused values" which are conscious strategies, goals and philosophies

Basic Assumptions and Values: the core, or essence, of culture is represented by the basic underlying assumptions and values, which are difficult to discern because they exist at a largely unconscious level. Yet they provide the key to understanding why things happen the way they do. These basic assumptions form around deeper dimensions of human existence such as the nature of humans, human relationships and activity, reality and truth.

At Blirt we build brands as "characters" and define the competitive advantages that an organisation espouses as the "mind”, which is how it wants people to talk and feel about it (the espoused values), the "body" as how it wants to look (the artefacts) and the "spirit", the purpose of the organisation (the "why" and part of the "espoused values") ( see Simon Sinek's Golden Circle). 

If the culture of an organisation isn't aligned to the brand anatomy (including characteristics and personality) then you will see a disconnect will occur between what an organisation says it does and what a customer really thinks.

Your brand is the blood running through your organisation. Many people will say they have "such and such blood in their veins".

This is why at Blirt we talk about Brand Anatomy – Anatomy is the study of living things.  The brand is what brings the business to life.

This is where brand and culture mix to form the lifeblood of an organisation. You can't mix two different types of blood, generally, otherwise a person will get sick, much like an organisation that hasn't got it's culture aligned with its brand.

Blirt helps businesses to gain clarity and alignment with their strategy, brand and culture. We'd love you to talk to us and see if we can’t help you build an inspirational business.  Contact us at blirt.co

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