The brand–culture connection and its role in business success

Every business is built on a core set of beliefs and ideas. These principles serve as the foundation for its existence and guide how it operates. For businesses to thrive in today's competitive landscape, these core values must permeate not just their external brand but also their internal culture.

The brand–culture connection and its role in business success

The power of authenticity: when brand and culture mirror each other

Let's face it: businesses are made up of people, and so are their customers. Regardless of the industry, successful interaction hinges on human connection. Here's where the beauty of brand–culture alignment shines. When a company's brand and culture mirror each other, they create a powerful synergy that strengthens the entire organisation. This authenticity resonates inside and out, to foster trust with both employees and customers (and investors).

Misalignment: a recipe for disillusionment

But where there is disconnect between brand and culture, you’ll find dissonance and confusion. Imagine promoting a ‘customer-centric’ brand while neglecting your employees. How can employees embody, or even recognise, a customer-first approach if they themselves don't experience that same level of care? The resulting inauthenticity erodes morale and ultimately will weaken the brand.

Employees as brand ambassadors: cultivating a cycle of giving

When employees connect with the brand and feel valued within the culture, they become natural brand ambassadors. Their positive experiences translate into a genuine desire to deliver exceptional experiences for customers. It's a virtuous cycle, where employee satisfaction fuels customer satisfaction.

The price of disparity: why brand and culture must align

The brand–culture synergy can only be achieved if we recognise the strong correlation between the employee experience and the customer experience. When internal culture contradicts the external brand (remember, this is a loose distinction as there's always some overlap), you will inevitably find yourself facing that most critical issue: employee scepticism. Employees who don't believe in the company's mission or practices will struggle to project a genuine brand image. Your brand is diluted before it even reaches the customer.

The BrewDog effect: a cautionary tale

Consider BrewDog, a company whose brand image has always championed social responsibility. The reports of a toxic work culture told a contradictory story and the resulting misalignment will inevitably erode trust and have a significant impact on the company's bottom line. BrewDog's situation highlights the potential consequences: a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of -30, a low Glassdoor rating and three consecutive years of significant financial losses – demonstrating a clear disconnect between brand and employee experience.

Patagonia: a model of unity

On the other hand, companies such as Patagonia showcase the power of brand–culture alignment. Its core values of environmental and social responsibility are evident not just in its external messaging but also in its employee-centric practices. This unity is reflected in its high Great Place To Work rating (91%) and impressive NPS, demonstrating the positive impact on both employees and customers. This strong brand–culture synergy correlates with a decade of financial success, which has seen Patagonia quadruple sales in the past decade to the $1 billion mark.

Brand–culture connection = sustainable success

While a strong brand built on genuine values can be a powerful asset, I’m a firm believer that for businesses to reach their full potential they must cultivate a culture that reflects those same values. Yes, a business can still survive, and even grow, if their brand and culture are in conflict – but this will only last for so long before something breaks.

By creating a joined-up brand–culture experience, companies empower their employees, build trust with customers and ultimately set themselves up to achieve long-term sustainable success.

I love talking about this stuff, so if you want to know more or have any questions, just drop me a line at