Brand as a Human Part 3: Operational Culture

Starbucks, lululemon, Converse, and Whole Foods - why are these brand names so popular in today’s American consumer culture? Each is a brand that has earned an outstanding public reputation through its distinct operational culture. What this tells us is that operational culture - the way a company operates and communicates - not only dictates the internal spirit of the brand, but also pervades the brand image that consumers see. 

    For example, if we compare competitors Uber and Lyft, it is apparent that their reputations have been heavily influenced by their different internal processes. Though the two  essentially offer the same ride-sharing services, Uber is known for its aggressive and corrupt procedures, whereas Lyft is considered the more ethical, driver-friendly organization. The way in which each of these companies has chosen to function internally has been quite transparent to the general public, as is common with most large and thriving brands. For this reason, it is pertinent to continuously uphold a positive operational culture that best suits and supports your brand’s goals. 

While it is up to each brand to determine its own operational culture, there are a few key elements that all companies, small and large, should take into consideration when developing organizational and communication tactics.

1. Empowerment

In this day and age, it is no longer efficient or wise to manage a business through traditional chain of command. While the industrial era benefited from hierarchical processes, companies today must address the new millennial generation of workers who consider themselves ‘self-starters.’ They thrive on the opportunity to run projects and take on authoritative roles. Though not everyone is born a leader, today’s working generation values empowerment in their day-to-day tasks.

2. Flexibility

In addition to empowering, individuals today are also more aware of their flexibility. In other words, people are attracted to jobs that offer some freedom so that they can choose where, when, and how they work. Not only does this allow the opportunity to maximize individual productivity, but it also sets a higher standard for employees. This privilege is not something which needs to be given from the start; it is a benefit that should be available to those who are willing to earn it. When designing your brand’s operational culture, one thing to consider is how the degree of flexibility granted to employees will affect the brand internally and externally.

3. Personal Growth

Another insight into the new working generation is an individual’s desire for acknowledgment of personal achievement and growth. Especially in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, millennials like to be recognized for their work and also want to expand their abilities. It is no longer good enough for employees to work a static, comfortable position. Many seek to try several areas of the business or to continually attain and master new skills. What employees gain from the company is now equally as important as what the company gains from the employee.

4. Community

Because culture is such a key aspect of brands today, hierarchical management has now been overtaken by a need for collective collaboration. No culture can be built by one sole leader, so companies today often function through communal decision making and project execution. Millennials who have grown in the digital age crave a sense of connection and community both in their social and professional environments, so operational processes must now be tailored to this new trend. This is not to say that it is necessary to completely cut leadership roles, but it is essential for employees and their leaders to work together and communicate consistently. 

The truth is, there is no ultimate answer we can offer to tell you exactly how your brand’s operational culture should function. As we have seen with today’s new and leading brands, each company’s success is generated by its own unique model of internal procedures. It is still quite early in the new age of millennial workers, but if there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that being aware and sensitive about the community and culture of your organization should be one of the fundamental aspects of operational culture for brands. 

It is important to note that systems within any organization are prone to collapse without consistent discipline and monitoring. Follow our next piece to find out about the challenges that will pose a threat to your brand’s success and learn how to best confront them.

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