South by Southwest has become a spectacle and cultural phenomenon. It’s a place you can hear bands on the brink with names like Apanhador Só and World Hood. You can hear the vocal stylings of a poet/playwright/rapper or one of 2,000 other musical acts. You can see dozens upon dozens of films – in 19 different categories. And you can consider the musings of “the brightest minds in emerging technology” during the five-day interactive confab that fancies itself an “incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity.” The New York Times describes the 29th annual music conference and festival as "a marathon of attention-seeking" and "a wild jumble of overlapping and contradictory agendas." All right then.
While most of us were far from the rocking streets of Austin, Texas, during the festival, Mayo's name was on the lips of one speaker at South by Southwest Interactive. And that was music to our ears. During a talk about why culture trumps advertising, Chris Kneeland, CEO of Canada's Cult Collective, talked about companies with great cultures that bring "great brand benefits," as reported in Marketing Mag. Kneeland, whose company believes “brands need more than customers, they need a cult following,” gave the folks at Marketing a preview of his talk. Their discussion revolved around the "power of engaged employees" and "how great culture can grow a brand."
Among other things, Kneeland noted that, "Employees who believe in the brand become ambassadors." He also noted that research conducted by his company indicates that a “hyper-engaged employee base” will “go the extra mile, make wrong situations right, inspire customers and provide unsolicited, uncompensated recommendations and referrals."
That kind of culture, he says, is "about pride and ownership in the brand." As an example, Kneeland told a story familiar to many here at Mayo. In the documentary “Driving Towards Zero Medical Mistakes,” a Mayo janitor is asked about cleaning rooms for patients. The janitor's reply, "I’m saving people’s lives," indicates "how well the Mayo Clinic has communicated its purpose to its entire staff," Kneeland says. "That’s a great example," he says, of a staff member feeling like she is "making a difference" because she's "part of a team that’s saving lives." We couldn't have said it better.
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