“Your culture is your brand.” These words form the foundation of one of the most successful startup companies in history. Uttered in 2010 by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, in an editorial he wrote for the Huffington Post, the statement is a window into the changing world of business. Zappos’ success illustrates an evolution in workplace practices and customer experience that has reshaped expectations from employees and consumers alike.
Mr. Hsieh believes that a brand is more than just a product. In years past, creating “culture” for a company was as simple as pumping the airwaves with copious amounts of advertising. A business could craft a narrative that wasn’t necessarily rooted in reality, if only by painting a pristine picture of corporate care and innovation. Today, the tables have turned. The consumer is no longer reliant on a flash of creative positioning born in the backroom of a Madison Avenue ad agency. Companies are now confronted with a multitude of platforms that allow customers to peel back this thin layer of publicity perpetuated by marketers. We see it everyday. Someone on Facebook posts a negative experience they had with the customer service department of a local cable television provider. 50 people then like the status update and share comments of a similar nature. In an instant, a single unhappy consumer with a keyboard can dispatch an illusion of say, customer support. The key concept here is transparency. Companies must go to great lengths to create a culture that embraces this window of close customer inspection and be ready for the scrutiny that results.
So what then is a company to do? At Zappos, Tony and his team built a brand that is rooted in the very best customer service and experience in the industry. This is engrained in the culture and is perpetuated from the C Suite on down. That means focusing less on the bottom line and more on creating an environment that spurs passion and dedication to your brand from all employees.
Every company, from the smallest startup just in its infancy to the corporate titan spread across the globe, should establish and adhere to a set of core values. The values are the guiding force behind establishing a thriving company culture. Zappos, for instance, has 10 core values, including: Deliver WOW through Service, Create Fun and a Little Weirdness, Do More with Less, and Be Humble. There is an intense process of orientation each new hire at Zappos goes through and it is centered on these 10 core values. The hiring managers believe if every employee is actively engaged and committed to furthering these values, the result will be dramatic, both in earnings and in culture.
Rhyme and Reason Design is a company that believes in the power of workplace culture. We follow a strategy called ROWE, or Results Only Working Environment. The focus is on delivering service that exceeds our client’s expectations. With any project we take on, the beginning and middle are just important as the end. The experience of working with R&R must be as impressive as the product. We love what we do because we care about how we do it. This translates out from our office into every relationship we have, whether with vendors or clients, allowing us to embrace a culture that we truly believe in.