52 - Apple

The 5 Dimensions of Identity as Culture

Company identity is a composite of purpose, brand and culture… so they had better align.

It is becoming clear that in the new era of business, authenticity is a prerequisite to trust, and therefore the brand and culture of successful, resilient companies will be deeply linked. Brand and culture must be congruent, they must animate one another, they must appear (and function) as a Chinese embroidery, like a photograph and its negative. The point is, company identity is a composite of purpose, brand and culture, so they had better align.

“Identity as Culture” is expressed through the same 5 dimensions as “Identity as Brand”: Origin, Recognition, Intention, Sustenance and Relationship. The symmetry between the two models is only natural, for if culture must mirror brand, and vice versa, then the key aspects composing each ought also to mirror one another, right?

Or, in outline form:

1.     Origin: What is the source of our company’s cultural identity–“shared, implicit, taken-for-granted assumptions?” From where do we get our sense of who we are?

2.     Recognition: How is our culture expressed? How do our employees and others receive or experience it? What is unique about this company?

3.     Intention: What do we as a company aspire to? What journey and contribution do we invite people to make? What are our commonly held intentions, really?

4.     Sustenance: What sustains us as a company and keeps our organization healthy? What gives us drive and motivation? What keeps us going?

5.     Relationship: How does our culture relate to others? How do we treat one another? How do we treat partners and competitors?

To dissect and rationalize an organization’s culture as if it were an inanimate notion is to deny its depth and uniqueness—and also its humanity. After all, the culture of an organization is a very human and animated reality. Culture only exists to the extent that a group of people act and embody it. For that reason, in this next series of posts, I will introduce you to a cast of characters and use the canvas of fiction and story, to convey culture through a more human lens, rather than as a set of disembodied concepts to be learned and understood.

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