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Denise Lee Yohn

July 4, 2018 by Speakers' Spotlight

Why Integrating Brand With Culture Builds Successful Companies

Brand-building expert Denise Lee Yohn is a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands. With more than 25 years of experience, working with world-class brands such as Sony and Frito-Lay, she challenges organizations to think differently about building their brand.

In a recent interview on the Knowledge@Wharton show, Denise discusses her new book Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies and the common thread successful companies share across industries — they seamlessly blend their workplace culture with their brand.

Below is an excerpt from her interview where she outlines the five steps all leaders and organizations should take in order to properly integrate their brand into their office culture. You can listen to the podcast or read the whole piece here.

Knowledge@Wharton: How can companies fuse culture and brand?

Yohn: I wrote this book because I think there’s a lot of rhetoric out there about culture-building but not a lot of instruction. What can you as a business leader do? The book outlines how you lay the foundation for achieving brand-culture fusion, and then it goes through five steps or strategies that you can take to achieve it.

“You can’t mandate your culture.”

Two things on the foundation: One, you need to have an over-arching purpose and a single set of core values for your organization. Why do you exist? How are you going to operate? You want those to be unique so that you are reinforcing the things that are going to distinguish you as a company and as a brand. The second foundation element is for the business leader to take responsibility for culture-building. Oftentimes, it’s seen as something that business leaders can delegate to other folks or think that it happens kind of organically. It’s quite to the contrary. You need to be very deliberate both in your actions and your communication, and then take these five steps.

The first step is to organize and operate on brand. Use your organizational design and your operational processes to cultivate your cultural priorities.

The second strategy is to create culture-changing employee experiences. Just as you want to deliberately design customer experience, you want to deliberately design your employee experience so that your employees experience the culture that you’re planning.

Third is to sweat the small stuff in the way you run your company — your policies, your procedures, your rituals, artifacts — all the little things can add up to make a big impact on your culture.

The fourth strategy is to ignite your transformation through employee-brand engagement, not just general employee engagement but really engaging employees with your brand.

The fifth strategy is to build your brand from the inside out. Look for ways that you can use your culture to differentiate and define your brand.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is the most important thing for leaders to understand from your book?

Yohn: I think it is this idea of being unique and doing the hard work to cultivate that unique culture. You can’t mandate your culture. You can’t force your employees to work in a certain way. But you can set up the environment through organizational design, through your employee experience, through all these things that cultivate the certain kind of culture that you want. But it’s not going to happen if you don’t take responsibility for it, if you don’t drive it, if you don’t champion it.

Interested in learning more about Denise and what she can do for your organization? Email us at info@speakers.ca.