Eben Tobias Greene, President / Creative Vision Keeper, ShiftUp AgencyEben Tobias Greene, President / Creative Vision Keeper
In recent years, there’s been a growing awareness among forward-thinking companies that a strong internal culture is essential to fostering positive customer relationships and sustainable growth. Today’s business landscape demands that culture and brand be aligned, if not intertwined. Culture is the new brand.

After observing the impact of disengaged employees, neglected brands, and leadership teams struggling to find a clear path forward, Eben Greene gradually transformed his traditional branding and marketing agency, ShiftUp, into a strategic change agency focused on company culture. ShiftUp creates internal alignment to guide brand-powered marketing solutions for companies to live their brand.

In an interview with Manage HR Magazine, Greene sheds light on the perspectives and programs ShiftUp employs to help accelerate purposeful business growth.

Could you provide us with a brief overview of the ShiftUp Agency?

ShiftUp was founded in 1991 with a focus on branding and marketing communications. Having seen a lot of companies struggling to make changes from a marketing or brand perspective, we evolved to include change management. More often than not, we see that the core challenge involves getting people energized around a clear vision. Various teams—leadership, HR, sales, marketing, customer service and others—require a lot of support to align with the changes.

We help organizations accelerate purposeful business growth by bringing greater clarity to their brand, culture, and marketing. The key word here is “purposeful,” because more than ever, consumers are making choices based on their values. So, as a company, you had better know what yours are and be able to act on them authentically.

In essence, as a strategic change agency, our mission is to transform how organizations connect and communicate internally. To achieve that, we focus on value-based change management to help organizations elevate leadership, differentiate brand, activate culture, and orchestrate marketing.
How does the organizational culture directly impact the branding and marketing strategies of a company?

Today we have social media and other immediate ways of connecting with a large audience. The stories that an organization shares can have a considerable impact on the brand. For that reason, the way you tell your story, and also live it, is more important today than ever. Culture is a huge part of brand development, and those who ignore it can find that their marketing efforts and customer relationships suffer. By fostering an optimistic culture of belonging, you activate untapped brand evangelists all throughout a company.

It is important to ensure that employees and leaders are on the same page when it comes to brand building and communication on social media and various other channels. As an organization focusing on change management, we bring people together on multiple aspects of marketing. By investing in a culture of belonging, employees naturally share the good news about how their company changes the world for the better.

Our team is highly skilled at helping the company leadership and employees navigate the intricate layers of change between their brand culture

How do you bring clarity to an organization’s vision, voice, and values?

Our team is highly skilled at helping company leaders and employees navigate the intricate layers of change. To help facilitate this, we’ve developed a tool called the Brand Culture Compass. It’s a unique visual guide that enables teams to stay focused on the fundamental principles and statements that define who they are as a company and the value they provide others. We decided to create and apply this tool in part because we understand that about 70 percent of people are visual learners.

The Brand Culture Compass helps clarify what your company stands for and how that can power its marketing initiatives. Each compass is unique to company’s people and values. In the process, we help them develop a meaningful language to consistently reinforce their brand position across strategic touch points. The tool has a very high acceptance rate when it comes to getting people on board and enthusiastic about the vision.

Our clients use their Compasses to make sound strategic decisions on everything from branding and marketing communications to product and service development, hiring, performance assessment, partnerships and other areas where it is crucial to align on a strong foundation of core brand values, attributes, and messages.

For example, we developed a Brand Culture Compass for the Nobel Prize Foundation. The client wanted to unify a fragmented brand and culture across multiple groups and countries. When they brought new hires to their office in Sweden, they used the Brand Culture Compass to orient them with the organization's values.

Could you narrate an instance that highlights the benefits brought to one of your clients after approaching ShiftUp?

A large, privately-held home care company in Washington state was planning a merger, and it was time to develop the name, brand, and marketing strategy, while integrating company cultures. They approached us to facilitate the transformation, which included finding the right name and developing a meaningful brand for the new entity. We started by understanding the different internal cultures of each company.

We then established an employee engagement program that was rolled out to introduce the new CEO’s vision for the company. This was a huge undertaking that included a multi-location marketing collateral system and unified website. By creating a high-performance culture as part of the brand transformation process, we succeeded in accelerating the merger and acquisition plan to position them as one of the top five privately-held home care companies.