In a packed marketplace, how do customers choose one company over another? Take streaming services. Given the choice among Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, how do customers differentiate to find a preference? Fundamentally, it comes down to company culture.
Consumers want to feel good about their choices. That means opting for companies that treat their employees well and present a positive public face. And as a business, you want to be one of those companies.
If you’re curious about how to make your brand stand out for all the right reasons, take a look at three companies that have made it their mission to build community among staff and connect with customers in an uplifting way. While big brands like Amazon have shown that you don’t need to nurture to succeed, for startups and smaller brands, company culture is a game changer.
One of the defining features of a strong company culture is that it attracts people who share a philosophy. At Humm Kombucha, for example, the founders’ emphasis on love and respect, what they term “Leading with Love,” has helped create a company in which team members at all levels feel empowered to act on their strengths and uplift each other, and where they can thrive and grow. From staff retreats and seminars to birthday parties, the company is committed to its community.
Be careful when hiring specifically for cultural fit, though, because it can hold you back and create a company in which everyone kowtows to the leadership. Certainly, you can rule out individuals who are clearly at odds with your philosophy, but you also want to leave room for new ways of thinking. People who can think creatively while cooperating with your community are a real gift to growing startups.
Make Honesty Your Guide
If there’s one universal truth about customer expectations, it’s that companies lie. Whether it’s airbrushed models or products advertised in unrealistic ways, consumers expect to be misled. That’s why building your company culture around honesty and authenticity is such a valuable trait.
One company that’s defying the tendency of big brands to mislead is Grrrl, an innovative fitness brand designed around the needs of serious athletes. But at a time when “activewear” companies like Lululemon place appearances over affordability or functionality, Grrrl is committed to never Photoshopping models and even allowing models to decide whether to wear makeup in professional photos. As they put it, they don’t manipulate based on supposed “imperfections” because “Women are perfection already.” That’s positive messaging consumers can believe in.
Always Reach Higher
We all want to be number one, but how do you represent that as part of your customer culture without putting your team under undue strain? If you’re like the tech company Meltwater, you strike a balance by combining your aspirational orientation with a commitment to fun. Meltwater’s in-house motto is “MER,” the Norwegian word for “more” and an acronym for the words meaning fun (moro), number one (enere), and respect (respekt). Those three ideals make for a workplace culture that makes achievement a collaborative effort.
If you’re too big to fail, you can get away with almost anything at a cultural level, but for small businesses, success is contingent on treating your employees well and making powerful connections with your consumers. No matter what companies offer, from clothing to tech support, they have an awful lot of choices set before them. Make yours stand out for all the right reasons.