How Brand and Culture Create Great Companies with Denise Lee Yohn 

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In the face of digitization and changing customers’ attitudes and expectations, the role of brands is constantly evolving. However, there often seems a disconnect between how a brand operates on the inside and what it’s communicating on the outside. Culture is a strong driver of the organization which needs to be as unique and differentiated as the brand itself. Denise Lee Yohn, brand leadership expert and author of “What Great Brands Do” and “FUSION, joined our CEO Erich Joachimsthaler to discuss how aligning and integrating brand and culture can lend a competitive advantage, a more sustainable platform and authenticity that is critical to an organization.

Here are some key principles from Denise Lee Yohn:

  1. Culture building is about ensuring your brand has clarity about its purpose and values. Developing employee experiences and designing an organization in a way to support that overarching purpose, are pivotal to help reinforce and reinterpret the company culture.

Denise believes that in order to change and transform your company culture, you need to deliberately integrate new values, thinking, and people in. You can then weave them into the fabric of your organization.

“If you want to be an innovative brand, then your cultural values need to reinforce experimentation, curiosity, learning, fast prototyping, risk-taking, and celebrating failure. All of those unique values that actually mean something to people, so that they don’t just become words on a page but actually becomes a driving force for your organization.” – Denise Lee Yohn

2. Have a purpose for your brand that is not focussed on a specific product or service. Instead of being tied to one particular business model, application or market, think about a broader purpose that talks about the impact you envision to have on the world.

To illustrate, Denise cites Apple as a brand that has seamlessly aligned and integrated its ecosystem. Having clarity in its purpose and values, Apple has successfully attracted the right participants, employers, ecosystem partners, and customers that are not only want to work with them but are a part of their value creation.

“If you are able to deliver the kinds of customer experiences, the kinds of products, services that really differentiate your brand, then your culture needs to be as unique and differentiated as your brand.” – Denise Lee Yohn

3. The way to achieve brand-culture fusion is to accept it as a leadership responsibility. There needs to be a foundation of accepting responsibility for culture building and brand building and integrating the two and ensuring that you have an overarching purpose, and a single set of core values to guide, align and drive everything you do as a brand in sync with the internal company culture. The senior leaders of the organization should believe, champion, and implement the responsibility for orchestrating the two.

Denise highlights the importance of understanding and listening to the two primary stakeholder groups—customers and employees. Bringing this vision and insight as a leader and can be highly beneficial for culture transformation.

“Culture building is not just about perks or free lunches and parties. Most business leaders settle for a baseline and generic, good culture within the organization. It’s not only possible but it’s imperative that you actually take these specific steps to build your culture.”  – Denise Lee Yohn

Here are the three simple steps towards building a robust brand culture:

  • Build your brand from the inside out with integrity and coherence while being market-facing and keeping the customer informed about how is the world changing. That way you are able to continue evolving.
  • You need to have one overarching purpose that motivates and aligns everyone. When you create multiple statements and values that are generic, they become meaningless and one-sided. Instead have an overarching purpose, which is your highest order ambition that speaks to all of your stakeholders.
  • Design and integrate your customer and employee experience. Think about how you can expose your employees to customers. Bringing your culture to your customers and bringing insight, empathy, and understanding to your employees will be mutually beneficial.


Engaging with a brand is no longer a transactional experience but is deeply revealing of the brand’s core beliefs and value sets. Integrating the external brand identity and your internal organizational culture will not only pave the way for a healthy and vital culture but will prove critical for building a sustainable organization.

Watch the full event here: 


08:27 – What is brand culture fusion

09:21  How do you achieve brand culture fusion

10:38 –  Why brand culture fusion doesn’t happen as often

14:50 – How new companies are getting the fusion right

20:50 – Role of the brands

26:46 –  How to navigate and respond to the challenges of the pandemic

31:34 – How to overcome silo thinking

36:08 – Are companies misunderstanding the human element of culture

39:50 – Understanding your stakeholders

45:20 – How brand and culture can come together

This segment was part of The Interaction Field Series of our LinkedIn Live Events. Please connect with us on our LinkedIn page to stay updated with our upcoming conversations.