Today on Branding Strategy Insider we field key marketing questions for those embarking on brand culture programs. Pamela, a VP of Marketing in Chicago, Illinois asks this about selecting a brand culture expert and launching a program.
“We are in the early stages of planning our search for a brand culture partner, beginning with an RFI. What guidance can you give us for crafting the RFI? Finding an expert? Launching a brand culture program?”
Thanks for your question Pamela. Here are the questions we’d pose as the core of any Brand Culture Request For Information:
- How do you define “Culture” and why do you consider it important in an organization?
- In your experience, what is the optimal client team to ensure the success of these types of initiatives? Who should “own” this assignment within a client and why?
- Please describe your process for assessing the current culture and determining the opportunities and challenges for instilling the new brand values.
- What are the typical stages and milestones of a culture project in your experience?
- We’re an organization of _____ employees situated in _____ states, _____ countries, how would you tackle the scale/scope of our business?
- How do you define success in – or measure the impact of – a culture project?
- We’ve not initiated a project like this previously, what timetable should we anticipate for a program of this nature?
- What culture transformation experience do you and your team have?
- How would you service this particular initiative? Who is on your team?
- Highlight a recent example/situation where you had to deal with a particularly complex client. What were your most profound learnings?
To achieve success with brand culture programs, organizations need to employ several levers:
1. Culture diagnostic – they need to know the culture’s strengths and weaknesses in order to tap the strengths and address the weaknesses.
2. The “critical few” behaviors – there needs to be a small number of clear behavioral change goals.
3. Employee pride and commitment – companies must find ways to galvanize people around ideas that they can believe in.
4. Informal peer networks and motivators – companies should encourage peer-to-peer support and interaction.
5. Storytelling – story is used to explain how the culture will get to its destination and to reinforce pride and desired behaviors.
6. Cultural innovation – the opportunity to “lab” ideas and approaches within the organization before they are introduced to the culture as a whole.
7. Support targets – clear goals for the culture that complement the strategic goals for the business and that lay out the hard and soft objectives for people. These would extend beyond the HR goals to encompass how people are to be supported in order for the strategic goals to be reached. This would help organizations achieve more accurate cause and effects appraisals between their people and the achievement of their business strategies.
8. Personal initiatives – people would have permission to try things out to see if they would work. Such programs could be in the form of a series of strategic challenges that are posted across the organization and that individuals can nominate a certain percentage of their working week to tackling. Individuals would be recognized for the scale of the problem they chose to address and the conversations they started as much as the actual outcomes.
Pamela, we hope you find this helpful in thinking through your RFI and the important work ahead.
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