Brand culture is good business

By Nigel Smith, Group CEO

These days many successful global companies consider their corporate culture as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. They make deliberate efforts to integrate their core values and business principles into management processes such as hiring methods, leadership development activities, performance management systems, compensation and benefits programs.

Yet according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015, culture and engagement is the most important issue companies face around the world. 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50 percent call the problem “very important.”


Shockingly, despite this challenge, a substantial proportion of the respondents (22 percent) report that their organizations have either a poor program to measure and improve engagement, or no program at all. Only 7 percent rate themselves excellent at measuring, driving, and improving engagement and retention.

The disconnect between companies and their people

Clearly there’s a disconnect between the imperative demonstrated by the success of companies like Apple and IKEA, with the prevailing attitudes in many C-suites around the world. Most enlightened companies have already expanded their recruitment selection criteria to include cultural fit above qualifications and recognise that skills are easier to develop than personality traits, attitudes and values.


For example IKEA selects applicants using tools that focus on values and cultural fit. Its standard questionnaire downplays skills, experience or academic credentials and instead explores the job applicants’ values and beliefs, which become the basis for screening, interviewing, training and development.


Successful companies know that creating a strong corporate culture takes broad ownership by managers at all levels, including the CEO. Senior leaders must be willing to devote a significant amount of their time to these activities. A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, claims he used to spend one-third to one-half of his time developing talent. He was convinced that “…nothing I do will have a more enduring impact on P&G’s long-term success than helping to develop other leaders.”


The foundation of any successful corporate culture is a strong and clearly articulated brand. When we talk about a business we mean the system that brings together the capital, people and resources to build a product or deliver a service. The brand we build within contains the ideas and attitudes that bind all this together and ultimately creates a happy engaged workforce, a delighted customer and a successful company.