Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

So we all had a great night at the Radio Advertising Awards on Friday, none more so than our sister agency Cawley Nea who took home the Grand Prix.  Having a discussion later about the quality of radio creative, one of the party commented that the only way to forward the case of radio advertising, is to make it part of the culture. Strategy is all well and good, but it doesn’t impact much wider than management meetings. If you have a culture of creating great radio advertising, that’s what everyone does. Because when culture meets strategy, culture wins every time.

This is equally true in thinking about how businesses perform generally, in creativity, innovation, client service and any other desirable trait you’d like to promote.

Company culture is the sum of all the “this is the way we do things around here” type behaviours. It is the combination of leader personalities, the type of people they choose to hire and the relationships they have with each other. Strategies are a top down management product which can be developed and announced overnight. Culture is a collection of habits. It takes time to establish and time to change.

Our increasingly transparent world where companies can be exposed and embarrassed by vigilant bloggers and rogue tweeters, makes it even less feasible to separate company culture and brand identity. In our most recent wave of ID, we looked at the brands perceived by Irish youth as ethical and unethical. The results were telling. They were clearly drawing on much wider impressions of these companies to inform how they felt about “the brand”.

In the new order, marketing needs to be inbuilt, an intrinsic part of your company culture, to be credible. Everything about your company – how you treat your employees, your customers, your partners – defines your culture, and therefore defines your brand. As in life , as always, if you want to influence outside perceptions, you need to look inside first.


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  1. Nicely put. Nothing contrived beats out the sustainable benefits of intrinsic human values.

  1. November 14th, 2010

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