My good friend, Patrick Condon, of Finished Basement Company fame, gives each new employee a salt shaker on their first day of work. This is a company that grew during the recession, offers legendary client service and where employees grow from entry level hires to company leaders.
Patrick instructs each new hire to keep their salt shaker in a certain spot on their desk. If they move it, he or one of his co-workers moves it back to the correct spot. Over time, new team members learn that there’s a certain way of doing things at Finished Basement Company — a set of cultural norms or “salt shakers” that are non-negotiable. For example, that “there are no lone rangers”. Everyone from the CEO to the designer to the carpenter is expected to work on behalf of the client’s interests.
Our long-time client, Sten Dyrmose, grew up in Denmark and is a big fan of Vikings and Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Thor is known for his hammer so, naturally, Sten not only got a hammer tattooed on his right shoulder but also fabricated a giant hammer which he used to great effect in sales meetings to make the point that his company, Spectralink, is serious about disrupting the in-office wireless workplace.
At BrandJuice fearlessness is one of our four core values. As a reminder, everyone gets a stamped steel “fearless” key chain when they start work here. We have learned that fearlessness comes in really handy when we embark on innovation and design work. We’re not afraid to experiment with our processes or to push creative boundaries. In fact we embrace experimentation as part of the journey. If we make a mistake it’s not a big deal. As our Managing Director, Andrea Stone, is fond of saying, “nobody dies in branding.”
So when you think about your team at work or your company’s culture, what are its icons? What do they mean? Who talks about them? And most importantly, why do they matter?
Remember that icons are shortcuts to meaning and we’re all searching for that.
Peter Murane is the founder and CEO of BrandJuice.