When people think about company culture, they tend to think about things like corporate gym memberships, fancy coffee machines, waffle breakfasts, ping pong tables and beer on Friday afternoons. These are great perks. But they’ve become confused with something more vital: your company culture and corporate brand.
Perks are great, don’t get us wrong. We love perks. We get really excited about potlucks and chocolate at Industrial Brand. But when potential new hires and prospects hear about your great perks and they confuse them with your brand, you are doing employees and clients a disservice. Worse, you might end up with a client or an employee that doesn’t share your values.
What are perks?
Perks can be defined as money, goods, or other benefits someone has access to as part of the company. They can be rewards for a job well done, or a built-in attraction designed to entice the best new employees and hang on to the good ones. The perks your company offers might help contribute to the brand or culture, but they aren’t the defining elements. Your perks should stem from your brand.
What is brand?
Your brand is your communicated sense of self. It is the values by which you collectively make decisions. It is your commitment to certain approaches. It is the way you handle clients, the way you relate to employees and how you physically present yourself in the world through marketing assets, your messaging and your logo. It is your tone of voice in emails and your personality online. It is your core values, mission and vision, and standards by which people are treated, how everyone goes about their daily work.
Here’s where we delineate perk versus brand. If you offer healthy snacks in your lunchroom, that’s a perk. Where it becomes culture and brand lies in the reason you are offering that particular perk. If you’re offering it because you value your employee’s physical health and organizational health and healthy living is a key part of your culture, your perk is on brand and is helping build culture. Perks should evolve out of your brand, not the other way around.
If you offer chips and soda in the lunchroom, that’s still a perk. But this potentially clashes with your cultural focus on wellness and creates a disparity between what you say and what you do. You are not living your brand or even communicating it in your actions. You’re saying wellness, but you’re offering up empty calories.
You don’t want your brand filled with empty calories – you want it to be rich and meaningful and offer something robust and hearty to employees, clients and customers.
Obviously, disparity can manifest in more subtle ways than lunchroom snacks, which is why your brand needs to be defined to your leadership teams and every person on your staff. Your brand values need to be measured against all company actions and decisions to create authenticity and brand equity.
How strong is your brand? Is it strong enough to be represented in your perks and how you do business? Try our brand assessment worksheet to find out where you stand, internally and externally.