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Aligning Culture and Brand: The Key to Sustained Success



In a world where disruption is the norm, it’s imperative for HR to align the organization’s culture and brand.

The companies that have been successful over a sustained period of time all have culture and brand alignment in common, according to Susan LaMonica, chief human resources officer at Citizens Financial Group.

“When you think about culture and brand and you think about … your various stakeholder groups, it’s really important that those two be aligned,” she said during an episode of the HRMorning podcast, “Voices of HR.”

A major benefit of this alignment is a cohesive, authentic experience for your customers.

“When we think about … delivering value to our customers, we have a brand commitment, and our colleagues have to deliver against that brand commitment. And so if our colleagues don’t feel that connection, and if we’re not treating our colleagues in a fashion that is consistent with our brand commitment, there’s going to be a disconnect, there’s going to be misalignment. So I think it’s just really, really critical that all of our stakeholders feel the power of our commitment to each of them,” she said.

Listen to the full episode here

Leadership’s Role in Culture and Brand Convergence

Citizens has invested in leadership development programs and coaching to empower leaders at all levels throughout the company to drive cultural and brand alignment.

As the business landscape continues to evolve, LaMonica highlighted the need for leaders who are curious, inspirational, and capable of leading with their heads as well as their hearts, nurturing a culture of empathy and authentic connections.

“You can have [everything] working and humming, but if you don’t have leaders who are setting the tone and reinforcing the messaging and really being stewards of the brand … you’re going to be suboptimal,” LaMonica said.

She stated that even if an organization’s resources are limited, if leadership is able to identify ways to adapt to unexpected changes, most challenges will resolve themselves.

Leveraging Business Resource Groups

A standout initiative at Citizens is a bottom-up, strategic use of business resource groups. These groups play a pivotal role in informing the organization’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, product development, policy decisions and community engagement.

The company hosts six business resource groups involving around 3,500 active employees. These groups have annual meetings with the CEO and the executive committee.

Aligning culture and brand is an ongoing journey, and LaMonica emphasized that it involves bold leadership, transparency and accountability around business outcomes, and inclusion and belonging.

Watch the full episode here

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