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Where do brand and culture intersect?Ken Meyers, creator of the Smartfood popcorn brand, talked to Meghan Lynch, CEO of Six-Point, and Ruth Lund, President of the Legacy Center, about culture as the credibility backing up a brand promise.

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Robert Glazer

Meghan Lynch

Ruth Lund

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Meyers thinks of brand as essentially a promise to the marketplace, to the prospect of constituents, and a company’s culture is the credibility behind that promise. As Ken said, “you can say whatever you want to, but if your company’s activities, behavior, and attitudes run counter to that brand promise, it’s going to be seen, and it’s going to chip away at the credibility behind what you’re trying to get people to believe and follow.”

As companies grow and scale, the transparency that companies experience with their customers acts like rocket fuel. It can propel a company to new heights, or it can blow them to smithereens. It is next to impossible to hide disconnects between the brand promise and the actions of the people in the company, or the company itself. There are so many ways that customers can share information about their experience with others, and that those experiences can be found by others. If the alignment is there, that clarity and consistency will reinforce customer confidence. If there is misalignment, it will undermine the reputation of the company and make it impossible to build brand loyalty and equity.

Meyers also pointed out that the company culture is what is going to set the course for either rapid growth and expansion of a brand or ultimate brand collapse. If you do culture right, you set solid boundaries and guardrails and you stay on the path toward growth. This gives you the best chance of getting people to buy into the promise you make with the brand that you are trying to develop, and the best chance for success.