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How a Company Culture is Born: The Making of a Brand's Core Values

Eric Sivertsen


Over the past 12 months, I have had the pleasure of representing Epicosity in a number of different speaking engagements.   I have had a chance to tell our story, engage with college students, entrepreneurs and executives, as well as reflect on the last 10 years of my life as leader of our organization.

One question that I get asked often is “How did you build your culture?” This is always an interesting one to me, because I feel like the intended response is a roadmap to manufacturing a cool culture.

Although I would like to provide that, my experience is that culture is not built. It is discovered. It is organic. It is ever-changing. And it requires nurturing.

Values at the Core

One pillar that I would point to if cultural development is desired is to make sure that you have your core values firmly in place. Although your culture will be organic and ever-changing, there should be certain truths or principles about your company that guide the organization and remind it constantly of what is truly important.

In addition, I would say that the style of your core values is a representation of the organization itself. Many choose singular words to define their culture. “Driven.” “Curious.” “Innovative.” Although these can work well, we did not feel that this truly reflected who we were as an Ideas Company. So, we chose a series of statements that really defined how we think, what we believe, actions that have made us successful and habits that will perpetuate us forward.

We is More Powerful Than Me

Let me focus on one core value for example—We is More Powerful Than Me. Epicosity’s process of developing effective, results-driven marketing is built around a collaborative process. Individual contributions are celebrated and necessary for each of us to bring our very best each day. Yet, when you get into a room and start bouncing ideas around the table and challenging the ideas you thought were “best” when you walked into the room, there is something magical that happens. You realize that you are literally building the next big idea or a more impressive way to launch a product or pushing the boundaries of web or utilizing a social channel like no one before.

This is the moment you start to realize the power of a team. One that is willing to challenge and listen.

Goals Born Out of Teamwork

Epicosity’s ability to forge teams that truly work toward the goals of our clients has been a consistent strength throughout our 10 years of existence. It can be daunting to think of all the details that go into the successful launch of a brand or campaign. Everything must line up. Creative messaging, web and marketing technology, media strategy and delivery, social media and monitoring, public relations execution and more.

As a team, we strategize and prepare, but in the marketing world it is nearly impossible to know exactly how consumers will react. That is why we work so closely as a team internally and with our clients. In fact, our best client relationships know when to trust, when to challenge and know that their team is working in partnership to relentlessly pursue the goal.

Commit, Reinvest, Grow

In addition, "We is More Powerful Than Me" was realized from the moment that we formed the company. My partners and I made the commitment to care about the company we formed and to aggressively reinvest to help it grow. You will also notice that the company does not bear any of our last names. This was by design as well. The agency does not bear my name, because it is not about me or my legacy. Any of the team members at Epicosity can walk into my office and discuss a better way to do things and frequently do! We don’t want to make the mistake of hiring smart people and telling them what to do. Rather, we foster a culture by nurturing it and provide a vision for the future that we all have a role to play in achieving it.

Core Values: A Journey

Setting our core values was a journey and fits who we are as a company and a team. They are the very essence of who we are and what we must not lose sight of as we continue to evolve as an organization. If you want to set the building blocks of your company culture, focus on setting core values that really define who you are and the things that really must stick. In doing this, remember—setting them is the easy part.

Living up to them will be the true challenge and can define whether you build the kind of organization you envision or fall short.

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