Insider Intelligence: Culture Shock

Sept. 13, 2019
Why your company’s brand cannot afford a bad culture

Many would argue that a company’s brand is the most important part of maintaining a successful business, and that a company’s culture should be a direct reflection of the brand.

Take online retailer Zappos, which likes to refer to itself as a service company that happens to sell shoes. This may seem backwards, as companies are usually focused on the product first, but Zappos has seen great success with its unique approach that many now try to emulate. Numerous leaders have become familiar with Zappos’ take on culture – live and deliver WOW. In their words, “We aim to inspire the world by showing it is possible to simultaneously deliver happiness to customers, employees, vendors, shareholders and the community in a long-term, sustainable way.”

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believes a company’s culture is its brand; in fact, he is so committed to hiring and retaining the right people, he even makes an “offer” of a quitting bonus to new employees after orientation. Hsieh wants to ensure that all employees truly want to be there and feel they can thrive in the environment, so he is willing to pay those to leave who do not.

To put it simply, “your culture is your brand” is another way of saying “you must be beautiful on the inside to be beautiful on the outside.” I never realized my mother was a branding genius when she taught me that simple fact so many years ago.

Employee happiness should be a strategic priority for every company in business. How can we expect our employees to go above and beyond in their jobs if they are not being treated well in return?

We see evidence of this at companies we shop at regularly. What do Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines and In-N-Out Burger have in common? They are all in the top 25 best places to work in 2019 according to They are also leaders in their industries when it comes to the bottom line, which is no coincidence. As consumers, we love to do business with companies that have such a sterling reputation.

This shift to focus on culture is especially poignant as millennials are becoming more prevalent in the workforce. Millennials highly prioritize positive culture and purpose-driven work. If your company cannot provide this for millennials, there are others who will. With more boomers retiring and millennials climbing into leadership roles, we simply cannot ignore what it takes to retain millennial talent.

Three Ways to Create a Positive Culture

How do companies ensure they are positively evolving culture, and therefore, their brands? Here are a few key things to think about:

1. Culture is a constant evolution. You must consistently work at ensuring it is healthy and employees are content. The best way to do this is to ask your employees. Annual surveys measuring satisfaction, looking for areas of improvement, prioritizing what is important, etc., is a great place to start. I’m sure many of the results will surprise you.

2. Be flexible about when/where the work gets done. With today’s technology, many employees can competently do their jobs from anywhere during hours that work for their lives. While you may feel like the work is not getting done if you cannot physically see them do it, this simply is not true for talented, dedicated employees. A little trust goes a long way.

3. Focus on communication. Just like in a marriage or any relationship, communication is the key. We all best receive communication in different ways, so it is important to repeat the message via various channels to ensure it is not missed. No one likes to feel like they are the last to know something or that there is a lack of information. In my work experience, poor communication has been the biggest driver of employee dissatisfaction and can be a relatively easy fix.

Candice Aragon is the new Director of Marketing for PSA Security Network. Request more info about PSA at