Branding Doesn’t Matter When Culture Doesn’t Work

4 steps a small business owner can take to correct a culture issue.


In just a few short years in the business world, it has become all about “the brand” of the company. Even the person behind the brand.

I find the latter to be most important. In working with organizational clients to help their “employees” understand culture, I’ve learned that the toughest ones to understand “culture” are the ones that are partly responsible for the culture they currently have…the CEO! 

Promotional materials

It is one thing to have promotional materials that say “my company is innovative, cutting edge and family oriented” when employees ooze “my company sucks, don’t join it!”

Many articles have been written about the toxic culture and destructive behavior of top C-Suite executives that make many organizations lose the secret sauce that made them successful or worse never become truly successful because they never really had the secret sauce of healthy culture in play at the organization.

What not to do…

1.   Don’t be that company that throws away thousands upon thousands of dollars on hiring a marketing company to help with your branding or consultants to assess the organizational temperature of the company if you are not ready to hear one of the possibilities…that YOU are the root of the dis-ease.

If you need some help visualizing what I mean, learn about some brand disasters of our most recent past.

2.   Don’t be that CEO that thinks they do no harm. I’ve learned that everyone has growing edges that need improvement and the best companies to work for have the most self-aware bosses at the helm.

3.   Don’t be that CEO that thinks if you fire enough consultants and if you run the gamut of all marketing companies in your area, you will finally get the magic bullet of instant harmony and engagement of employees without first having to do the hard work of checking yourself.

So many CEO’s and other C-Suite management blame other leaders in their company and even fire them waiting to find the unicorn.

You know the perfect employee that reads their minds. How about  you try what Stan Slap says, “Instead of waiting for a leader you can believe in,  become a leader they can believe in.”

So, yeah, don’t get on the branding bandwagon if you think that is what will finally fix the small business culture.

4.   Don’t even hire a Chief Culture Officer (unless it’s me then heck yeah hire me, we all have to eat), if you only want to hear how you’re so amazing and everyone else is painfully flawed.

You see, as Dan Ward argues in a piece he wrote for Forbes Magazine, urgent burning platforms (you know where the CEO makes a speech saying how wonderful the future looks) or worse fear-based atmospheres don’t do much at all to change organizational culture.

On a plane ride to NYC last month, I picked up the Harvard Business Review because the cover said “You Can’t Fix Culture” and I am a consultant trying to help companies well, fix culture! So, I felt the urgency to read the article. and guess what they agreed what what I have been stating to clients!

Branding does not matter if your culture doesn’t work.

Next- What to do…

Elizabeth Rios
Elizabeth Rios
Dr. Elizabeth Rios is a strategic visionary and has served her community in NY and FL in various capacities for over 25 years. She has served in high level executive positions in higher education management, nonprofit organizations and small business. She operates a number of online business incentives and founded Passion for Purpose International to help small businesses, nonprofits and schools get started, get funded and get teams going and growing in a healthy organizational culture.  Dr. Rios received her MA in Business Management from Regent University and her Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Rios is the author of Don’t Buy the Lie: Eradicating False Belief Systems that Keep You From Your Destiny.  In addition, to her community work with South Florida women's empowerment organizations and charities including her own faith-based nonprofit, the Passion Center, Dr. Rios sits on many national boards and serves as Contributing Editor or writer for a few national magazines. She is a Boxer lover,mom of two boys, one with special needs and sees her life mission as one to unleash potential, ignite passion and connect people to purpose. Website

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