Use Your Company Culture as Your Competitive Advantage

January 20, 2012 - 5 minute read - Posted by

In today’s competitive world, many companies are striving to differentiate based on cheaper prices and offering better products or services. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate based on these factors. Competitors quickly pick-up on what you are doing and replicate it; and sometimes they even do a better job than you can, stealing your competitive advantage and making it their own. One of the only things that can’t be easily replicated is your company culture. Many high performing companies like Zappos, the online shoe retailer, have used their corporate culture as a competitive advantage. Your strong company culture can help you differentiate your brand, attract and retain loyal employees, and build strong relationships with your customers, vendors, and partners.

Use your culture to differentiate your brand

With all the social media tools out there, brands are very different from what they were 50 years ago. It used to be that company executives sat in a boardroom one afternoon and decided what their brand and positioning was going to be. They then hired a company like Sterling Cooper from Mad Men to spread the word. In today’s world, that is not really possible. An unhappy customer or employee can tweet or blog about a bad experience and the story can spread like a virus. The good thing is the opposite of that is also true with a happy customer or employee.

Social media has made companies very visible and your brand now includes all touch points, including how you treat your employees. Therefore, building a great culture is one of the best ways to build your brand. Many forward thinking leaders like Tony Hsieh, believe that company culture and brand are just two sides of the same coin. By building a great and cohesive company culture, you automatically build a reliable and reputable brand.


Use your culture to attract and retain talent:

If you build a great culture based on your company’s core values and hire employees that have values in alignment with your company, you will build a happy, loyal, and cohesive team. This is because they have aligned values with other employees and your company. Now these dedicated employees represent your culture and will naturally attract more and more talent to your company. In today’s connected world, your great company culture will spread like wildfire through your employees’ networks.


Use your culture to build strong relationships:

Having a great culture based on a set of core values also allows you to build better relationships with your customers, suppliers, and partners. A good example of this is the Vancouver-based company HootSuite that makes the leading social media management dashboard. HootSuite’s great culture over-arches to its loyal user base. In 2010, HootSuite launched a translation project and since then its loyal users have helped translate HootSuite in many different languages. If your customers, suppliers, and partners have aligned values with your company, you can build strong lasting relationships that goes beyond regular business relationships.


Conclusion

Your culture can be used to set you apart from the competitors. It allows you to create a differentiated brand, attract and retain loyal employees, and build strong relationships with your customers, suppliers, and partners. Since your culture represents your unique core values, your competitors cannot replicate it. The only requirement is that you are true and committed to your core values that represent your company culture. Having your core values on a plaque on the lobby wall is not sufficient. You must always act and behave in alignment with your core values. This means only hiring employees that share your values and making business decisions with your core values in mind.

Tags: , , , ,