EMPLOYEES are the most valuable element of any product or service brand.

Engaging and energising them with your brand culture must be a priority, as they express the brand in the marketplace in many ways that have the power to affect the brand either positively or negatively.

An energised brand culture strengthens your brand naturally because your employees are emotionally and intellectually committed to achieving strong brand performance.

This happens when employees are highly motivated by their work.

The question you must ask is: How much energy are you prepared to invest in building and keeping your brand culture fully alive?

This is because the amount of energy you get out of it is the amount of energy you are prepared to put into all the areas that fuel the human spirit and create momentum around the brand. 

It is by comparing successful, living brands with the multitude of bland, lifeless brands that we understand what factors rob the brand culture of its energy and what fuels it.

When the degree of dysfunction in a brand culture is high, it is usually due to excessive control, caution, confusion, bureaucracy, hierarchy, internal competition, blame, silo mentality and so on.

In this situation, the amount of energy employees have to expend in getting their jobs done increases.

This additional energy is called “cultural entropy” because it is caused by factors that are endemic to the culture of the organisation.

Causes of cultural entropy

Cultural entropy (CE) comprises three elements:

  • Factors that slow the brand culture down and prevent rapid decision-making — bureaucracy, hierarchy, confusion, fire-fighting and rigidity;
  • Factors that cause friction between employees — internal competition, blame, manipulation, rivalry and intimidation; and
  • Factors that prevent employees from working effectively — lack of clarity and alignment with brand vision, mission values and delivery of brand promise, such as excessive control, caution, micro-management, short-term focus, job-insecurity, risk-aversion and territorialism.

The Cultural Values Assessment (CVA) of the Barrett Values Centre enables organisations to measure the level of cultural entropy and the degree of values alignment, and gives an indication of the level of brand mission alignment in an organisational culture.  

Entropy and performance

The energy that is involved in overcoming cultural entropy is energy that is unavailable for value-added work.

When entropy is low, the energy available for doing useful work is at its maximum and the culture operates at its highest performance.

When entropy is high, the energy available for doing useful work is low, resulting in low performance.

When people are not highly motivated by their work, they channel any energy they may have into their private lives, and they expend the minimum amount of energy they can at their place of work.

They take long breaks, surf the Internet and do whatever they can to escape boredom and to make the time pass quickly.

When people are highly motivated, they spend extra hours at work and think about their contribution even when they are not in the workplace.

The output from a motivated person can be twice as much as output from someone who is not motivated.

People are motivated differently.

There are seven unique groups of factors that unleash energy in employees:

  • Service;
  • Making a difference;
  • Finding meaning by contributing to an inspiring brand vision;
  • Intellectual and operational challenges;
  • Pride in performance and doing a good job;
  • Friendship, collegiality and recognition; and
  • Benefits and financial rewards.

These are the factors that relate to the seven levels of human motivation.

Out of all these motivators, the most important is “contributing to implementing an inspiring brand vision”.

This is important for two reasons:

  • An inspiring brand vision focuses the energy of all employees in the same direction; and
  • The pursuit of the inspiring brand vision gives employees an opportunity to make a difference and be of service in a way that brings meaning to their lives.

A highly motivated person is committed, enthusiastic and passionate, and taps into his deepest levels of creativity.

To even stand a chance of unleashing people’s energies, employees need to feel at home in the organisation so they can be authentic.

They then bring their whole selves to work (values alignment).

They must also feel that the brand is on the right track — so that current and desired brand culture values are aligned and they resonate with the brand’s purpose (mission alignment). 

Brand expectations are met when they are clearly articulated, starting with brand and business goals that clearly state what the brand stands for and inspires action and momentum.

Clear guidance should steer all initiatives related to the brand, its people, products and processes.