What culture really means for marketing agencies

As a marketing agency, your brand is your bread and butter—and your agency culture makes an indelible mark on that brand. I’m not referring to surface stuff like happy hours and events (though they can be part of the mix), but rather the DNA of your agency. Greg Bresner, CEO of CultureIQ, checked in with iMeet Central to drop a little knowledge on this very subject.


Understanding culture in the workplace

“The simplest definition of company culture is ‘how things get done in an organization’,” explains Bresner. “Culture encompasses everything from company traditions, communication habits, management practices, and even unintentional behaviors.” Marketing agencies looking to ante up their branding game have to be in tune with the nature of their culture

“Culture touches everything within an organization, and it drives employee engagement, recruitment, and retention,” explains Bresner. A high-performance culture has been associated with everything from high customer satisfaction levels to revenue and stock price growth.


How to get your culture into shape

If culture has not been on your to-do list, it’s time to add it. “During any given year, employees change, your industry changes, and your product might even change. Culture is so interwoven in all of those elements, that it too will inevitably change. Therefore, company culture, just like any other business initiative, should be actively managed over time to account for these changes. A healthy culture won’t occur on its own, it’s the result of thought, iteration, and intention,” says Bresner.

Maintaining your company culture does not have to be a chore. Here are a few ways you can gauge and improve your agency’s culture.


Have an identifiable vision

Get your team and clients on board by having an identifiable mission. As an agency, your goal is to provide a sense of identity to your clients, so your agency mission should be readily identifiable to them. If your clients aren’t sure of what you do, your vision is out of focus. Make sure the qualities of your company are clearly spelled out.

“At CultureIQ, we recognize ten qualities common to high-performance companies.” says Bresner. “Those qualities are agility, communication, collaboration, innovation, mission and value alignment, performance focus, responsibility, support, work environment, and wellness.”


Check your core values

In addition to having a clear and identifiable vision, your core values should be spelled out as well. If you have core values, be sure that everyone in the agency is mirroring them.

“It’s also incredibly important to remember that employees are the ones experiencing your company culture, so they should be involved in the process of evaluating your culture to understand strengths and opportunities for improvement,” says Bresner.


Mentor your leadership team from the top-down

As the captain of your agency ship, your leadership is influential to everyone on your team. Your leadership team has to be in sync with your mission; otherwise, you could face a company culture identity crisis.

“Culture is a business topic, not just an HR topic,” says Bresner. “It plays a powerful role in all business operations, which means that leaders must be intentional about shaping a healthy culture by driving key initiatives and setting examples through their behavior.”


Drive teamwork and collaboration

Writing campaigns and creating brand management portfolios takes a lot of compartmentalized collaboration. It takes a team skilled in collaboration, teamwork, and communication to achieve the unimaginable. Make sure they have the right tools for the job as this, too, contributes to your culture.

“Collaboration is made possible by goal alignment, support, and effective communication,” Bresner says. “These are all components of a strong culture.”


A better marketing agency

Culture is at the heart of every company, not just agencies, and it can make or break your success. Invest the time to figure it out. Build your leadership and teams around your founding principles.

“Client work is a central focus for marketing agencies, and it often drives how things get done at the company. Therefore, to create a truly strategic culture at your agency, understand and align your company values with your customers’ values,” says Bresner.

Post by Taryn Barnes

Taryn Barnes is a freelance writer and journalist. She writes about HR Tech and the evolution of the workplace and has written on workforce trends for Forbes and Workforce Magazine.