A Culture of One – Intro

Luke Mysse

I recently spoke to a group of technology service company owners about branding. The event was in Las Vegas and put on by a company called Kaseya. My mission in my talk was to convince the audience about the value of proper branding.

I started my speech by explaining what branding is and isn’t. I told them that branding isn’t a logo or colors; it’s really your promise and the ability to keep that promise. For example, VOLVO promises safety and keeps that promise through the way they build cars. But then they built a convertible that goes against their promise in some ways, at least in the mind of the consumer. It’s been said that perception is reality when it comes to the mind of a consumer. So, for folks who frowned upon the aforementioned convertible, suddenly VOLVO wasn’t so synonymous with safety.

After establishing this base with the audience, I went on to share three ways they could build a stronger brand.

1. Brand Positioning
In branding, you should narrow your focus and position around your strengths. In order to get into the mind of a prospect, you have to be willing to sacrifice. You simply can’t convey everything you do in the short period of time you have to grab their attention. Your positioning should be about the client and not about you.

2. Brand Consistency
Consistency is crucial in branding – consistency in how you talk as a company, consistency in how you act and consistency in how you look. Consistency builds trust over time and trust brings referrals, among other things. But consistency doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. I like the 80/20 rule: 80% consistency, 20% full of surprise.

3. Brand Culture
In any sort of service business, your company’s culture will have an amazing way of bleeding into your client relationships. A great brand culture is one where your passions shine through. Your culture is your brand and it should remain consistent with everything else.

After my talk, I realized how much of this “brand culture” idea also applies to the soloprenuer. For a solo business owner, your culture could be your working environment, your attitude, sharing your individual passions with clients or being attractive to the the right people. Regardless of your approach, the way you act as a company is just as important to the solo person as it is the large company.

Over the next few posts, I will dive into “A Culture of One” a bit further. What are your initial thoughts on company culture for the solopreneur? Do you think your culture is a key part of your success?

7 thoughts on “A Culture of One – Intro

  1. Alonzo

    I agree your culture rather effortlessly lends itself to what you are passionate about. When you are able to be still for a moment and narrow in on what makes you unique in a service oriented profession, what you are really saying to yourself is you are ready to analyze the “Why” – in why you do the things you do.

    Ah ha…Now you have grown up to realize, it is not only important to stand out in a crowd, but it’s really fulfilling to!

  2. Dustin Guinee

    After freelancing in print and web design for the last 5 years and just this last week getting a full time senior designer gig at an ad agency, the company culture for the solopreneur is a great question because it really get’s down to individual philosophy and how that effects your work. As an individual designer representing my own sole proprietorship, Guinee Design, I’ve had to establish my own standards and best practices on everything from design technique, to business, how I interact with clients, customer service, writing proposals, self promotion, networking, etc. All of these activities and the way they are executed, in effect create the culture of one. The ever changing market of design is constantly requiring us to wear several hats; the creative, the developer, the brand and business strategist, the marketing manager, and finding a consistent brand in all that is tough. At the end of the day the culture of the solo-designer really is dependent on a lot of different people, even if they are people we troubleshoot with on forums, reply to on blogs or get information from on websites. Open sourced shared content is vital to the solo designer and in effect forms the culture and design strategy for the solopreneur. We can try to do it all but we really are dependent on the knowledge and assistance of others.

    1. Luke Mysse

      Agreed. Our culture’s health is very much reliant on outside influences which makes it difficult sometimes. If for example you hire an outside sub contractor who doesn’t deliver on time, that will will effect your brand. Likewise if you’re working with a contractor that is really negative towards the project that attitude will bleed through to the client relationship. It’s important to realize that ‘culture of one’ or brand of one will effect how we do business. It’s more than just having a logo / website and being positioned in the marketplace.

  3. Deb Budd

    A Culture of One… an interesting concept. I can certainly agree with A Brand of One. Personal brands abound in today’s marketing and public arenas. But a culture of one seems more amorphous to me. If you look at the definition of culture, a group or community is implied as a support to a system of beliefs, ideas and behaviors. If you think of your entire work life (clients, business contacts, vendors, suppliers, mentors, etc.) as your “culture,” the Culture of One becomes more believable, but does the descriptive still fit? I’ll be interested to read on as your series unfolds.

    1. Luke Mysse

      I realize that the idea of one person having company culture is a bit of a stretch. The talk that inspired this series was in fact to a group of business owners who have employees and would therefor fit the profile better.

      However as I looked at the content I realized that our individual culture (if we call it that) effects our brand just as much as any large company. Our description of ‘culture’ is different but it is in fact very much a part of our branding.

      I was more trying to tie it into the content that I delivered at my talk and show the similarities.