(En)Counter Culture

Whether you realize it or not, we are at a pivotal juncture in the marketing and advertising industry. This industry is one that is (and always has been) located at the point where information, entertainment, politics, technology, society & culture converge. The last four elements listed have become more prevalent since the turn of the century. The byproducts of these have affected the way we as marketers and advertisers work as well as the ability for companies to maximize revenue. Many business owners don’t know where to begin and feel overwhelmed at the thought of figuring this out on their own. Thus, I mark my return, inspired by an upcoming session at Seattle Interactive Conference, fully equipped with the answer: it all starts with culture.

The word culture, when used in our industry, is much like the word brand. Both words are often used interchangeably with terms that are, in fact, components that define each concept in part (i.e.: logo vs. brand or customs vs. culture). This type of misuse makes it hard to do what’s best for your business when it comes to making the best connections with your customers via clarity and effective communication. Since the controllable detail within communication is internal, this is as good a place to start than any.

One of the initial references to culture in business is that of comfort or convenience. Many companies – from startup to large conglomerate – provide their employees with amenities to make an employee’s workday easier. These comforts at work can include snacks or meals, spirits and beer, exercise facilities and, of course, diversions such as ping pong, foosball or console games. Please note: I am not here for the amenity slander. I see each and every one of these enhancements as a wonderful and even functional addition to any workplace.

However, the problem that can arise comes when business stakeholders stop at this stage. When companies call the distribution of these frills alone company culture, the change in the quality of work is ultimately marginal. True culture, in a business sense, is more than just comfort or convenience. In order to address culture as a way to improve your company, it is best to approach all aspects both individually and collaboratively. Identifying ways to improve internal company culture is an advantage beneficial to all businesses. Yet and still, this is only one method of brand enhancement. Comfort and convenience are good pillars on which to build your company’s culture. Next week I will present another principle of culture that will help better your business and your brand.

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