What does culture have to do with brand?

We are five years into the Human Age.

In the 21st century, leaders must go beyond taking care of their people to embodying a new level of caring for people.

Taking care of your people is a minimum requirement – compensation, benefits, work environment. And even in the Human Age economy, there are still plenty of places to work that are sweatshops and boiler rooms – just with healthy food, beer taps and ping pong tables.

Caring for your people is seeing that each human on your team contains enormous value – not just for the work they do for you, but because of the substance of their souls. Contained within each of them is the power to grow your brand … or not.

The clients we work with understand this, at some level. They are working, in their own ways, and at their own pace, to embrace this idea. But it’s hard.

It’s fun to embrace this idea when you are thinking about how you as the leader can help your favorite team members become better leaders.

It’s difficult and challenging when you consider nixing the leadership retreat/golf outing to host a surprise leadership-in-service day at a local soup kitchen. Or abandon your anti-Human Age policy of working a year before giving your people a week off or blocking all social media access.

These are tougher assignments.

In the 21st century we must move the people to move the numbers — as opposed to the 20th-century thinking that had that reversed.

That means loving the people.

Loving them.

Sharing the love with them.

Some people have asked us what culture has to do with branding.

The humans who make up your brand are your brand.

How they treat the work they do for your brand is a direct reflection of how you treat yourself as the leader, and then a reflection of how you treat the people around you, and then how you choose to lead the organization — ie, sustainably or with a rode-hard-and-put-away-wet ethic.

What this means for you — the leader — is that your first investment in your culture needs to be in you.

It needs to be in uncovering how you are motivated, why you are motivated to do this work.

Your people are dying to hear it from you! This is a key element of their motivation — not just the number of zeros on their paycheck.

That’s why our Root Sessions begin with an examination of current conditions and an intense focus on the beliefs that underlie you.

As we enter the Human Age, talk is cheap — and boring.

Action is expensive — meaning it will cost you, as the leader, something personal and spiritual to take a stand against what were once acceptable leadership practices in the 20th century. But action is also riveting to your audience.

As has oft been said, people don’t really buy what you are selling. They buy the feeling they get when they work with your brand.

So what motivates your customers to buy from you? The same thing that motivates people to work for you: love and trust. When you tap into the humanity of your audience, you are making a deposit of trust. You are reminding them they’re appreciated, valued and important.

You are making them part of your culture.

What robs a company culture or customer base of love and trust? Hypocrisy, inconsistency and manipulative tactics – just to name a few.

One of the things we rail against at Root + River is the pervasive the-ends-justify-the-means way of doing business. That it is OK to manipulate people. That it is OK to dehumanize people for your financial benefit (this extends to your people and to your audience). We say hell no to that.

This is why we have a warning label on our site. Why we walk away from deals that require a compromise of our value and values. We don’t do this just to be rebellious. We do it because we want to live out what we expect of the leaders we coach.

Ideas and principles are made real by behavior. So what are you going to DO differently or better in the Human Age?

What sort of Human Age leader will you be?

Consider yourself a leader of the Human Age? Aspiring to take a step into that leadership style and reflect it in your brand in a startling authentic way? We need to know you. Fill out this form to begin a conversation without pressure or posturing, about how you can be the brand you want to be.


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