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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

How to create a culture book and why you need one (with examples)


Image of a couple of Culture Books from the company Zoosh

Why a culture book is good for business


How do you communicate your culture in a way that encourages colleagues to protect and enrich it? This is where a culture book comes into play.


A culture book outlines what it is to be part of your organisation, what you stand for and how to behave to work towards your goals. It is a guide to help your team and business thrive.


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In this guide, along with some examples, we’ll be sharing answers to these common questions:


  1. What is a Culture Book?

  2. Why do you need one?

  3. What to Include in a Culture Book?

  4. How to design a Culture Book?

  5. How to write a Culture Book?

  6. How to understand business culture?

  7. How do I use a Culture Book in my business?


Read on and prosper, comrade!


Firstly, what is a culture book?


In a nutshell, a culture book gives people behind-the-scenes insight into what makes your organisation a promising and fulfilling place to work. Done well, it can focus and unite employees in doing a great job, breeds positive attitudes and empowers teams to operate autonomously.


A culture book is a physical, digital or ‘living’ document that outlines your brand’s core purpose and guiding principles – your vision, mission and values are central. The aim is to promote a shared understanding of your company and preferred conduct to guide people’s behaviour and decision-making at work.


Your culture book might also double up as an employee handbook. By including top-level and everyday ideals, you can help existing colleagues and newcomers better understand your organisation’s goals, the steps required to bring these to fruition, and the mindset for an enjoyable and productive workplace.


A culture book is a practical reference for existing staff and a valuable handbook for new starters looking to fit in.


If you don’t have time to read this post, let’s just get it done. We can help you craft, write and design a Culture Book for your business. Get in touch.

Harnessing the power of culture


Company culture is a powerful thing. It can inspire, unify and empower teams – or do the complete opposite. So, a culture book is a great way to communicate your organisation’s intentions, values and beliefs early on.


Making abstract, emotive factors more tangible through storytelling helps people picture the type of culture you want to see. It goes some way to ensuring consistency across interpersonal practices, as well as operational ones. And that means individuals get the same experience regardless of who they interact with from your company.


What to include in a culture book?


Every business is different, and there are no hard and fast rules on what to include in a culture book. They can be detailed and factual or light and playful – whatever suits your culture.


At Threerooms, we’d typically include the following:


  1. Mission – what you do and why you’re doing it

  2. Vision – where you’re going, what the future looks like

  3. Values – how to behave and prioritise

  4. Culture definition – a sense of the vibe and what life is like in your business

  5. Brand personality – how people should feel about your brand and interactions with it

  6. Brand narrative – how to describe what you do clearly in one sentence and one paragraph (so everyone can talk about the business in the same way)

  7. Brand pillars – the three to five things that you’re best known for and strive to maintain

  8. Personas – an overview of your ideal customer(s), who they are and their needs and motivations


You could also consider:


  1. The origin story – The brand’s history and how it came about, what the original motivations were

  2. An intro from your CEO – show how your leadership is behind every word and how important it is to them

  3. Value proposition – the reason(s) to believe in what you offer

  4. Service or product overview – so that everyone ‘gets it’ and different departments can cross-sell

  5. Processes – the critical routines that your business lives and dies by

  6. Tone of voice – guidance on how to write, speak and communicate

  7. Contents from your employee handbook – without making it too dry or like a book of rules!

  8. High-level finances – if you’re open like that and proud of your results

  9. A global picture – your scale and growth into new markets if you’re an international business

  10. A timeline – showing how your brand has evolved over the years – acquisitions, pivots, new products

  11. A cheat sheet – the one-pager or summary for quick reference

  12. A lexicon – kind of like a dictionary of do’s and don’ts: what to call things and the words you prefer, for example: “We don’t say ’employees’, we prefer ‘colleagues'”.

  13. How to get help – where to go for support, whether that’s an HR contact, work buddies or a direct line to the CEO


How to design a culture book


It goes without saying that your culture book design should be ‘on brand’, and it should. However, there is room to be brave and more flamboyant. However you go about the culture book design, it should not just look but feel like your culture. This might mean using less formal images, quirky typography, bright colours and cheeky notes.


Be sure to include lots of pictures – those work nights out, informal gatherings, events and that time you capsized on a whitewater team day.


How to write a culture book


You want your team to want to read it time and time again. The writing style of the content in your culture book shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s the perfect opportunity to express your brand’s personality and tone of voice. Plus, a Culture Book is usually an internal document and can be more relaxed in its style. Sure, there may be some facts to get across, but decorate those with creativity, including soundbites, quotes, wordplay and unexpected layouts. Make sure you break up large content sections, too; use lists, key points, pull-outs, summaries and highlights – it should feel light and easy to flick through. Breezy.


Examples of great Culture Book designs


Like unicorn horns, Culture book examples are hard to come by. Here we’ve pulled together a few nice examples, including one of our own. Take a look and be inspired.


Screenshots of the inside of the Zoosh Culture book

Excerpt from the Valve Culture and Employee Handbook

Excerpt from Skittle's Brand Book

How to understand business culture?


It’s often said that culture in a business is tricky to pin down. And it is. However, it does exist and dramatically affects how business functions. We’ve all walked into the office that day when something big had happened and almost felt it in the air. We’ve joined calls that inspire you to finish that daunting job. This is a culture in action, and it’s a powerful force.


To understand the culture of your business, you must listen to its people. When we create Brand DNAs and Culture Books, we start by asking and listening. We have calls with a range of key stakeholders and leaders; if possible, we speak to those on the front line of services. The scope can be as big or small as you can afford (time and money), but getting a broad spectrum of opinions helps.


We prefer to speak to the people inside the business who are good at communicating and sharing feelings, and a questionnaire can help capture the sentiment in larger organisations. If you want to do it thoroughly, speaking to customers reveals an external perspective. Mostly, though, we talk to a selection of key people from across the business, giving us a strong ‘sense of the place’.


Once we’ve captured this magical essence, we ensure the culture is aligned with the company’s goals. If there is a mismatch, we account for this and create a culture book to set it right.


Building a great culture that reflects your brand’s ideals


The contents of your culture book should be whatever beliefs, characteristics or ambitions are relevant to your business and how you want to go about it.


You can offer guidance to encourage a positive and collaborative work environment – whether in a physical office or as a remote working team. This guide can include simple instructions like how and when to use various comms tools. And it can feature abstract instructions like describing how you want everyone (from employees to clients and suppliers) to feel working together, alongside best practices for communication.


When including abstract instructions, consider sharing stories about successful business endeavours, significant milestones, or spirited interviews with teammates about their experiences. This is a great way to illustrate what you’re aiming to achieve.


Adding an organisational structure


Your culture book is also a helpful tool for outlining your internal structure. This addresses questions about people’s skills and where to look for support. You don’t need to use names; just highlight job roles and seniority levels, showing who’s responsible for what and who reports to who.


Bringing new staff on board quickly


A culture book is an especially effective tool for onboarding new employees because it clarifies your company’s ambitions and expectations from day one. So, people quickly get up-to-speed on the required conduct to create a favourable and constructive atmosphere.


Plus, setting your stall out in a readily accessible document means everyone can refer to it at any point.

This continuously helps to nurture collaboration between different people or teams while ensuring everybody knows their roles and responsibilities within the organisation.


When there’s clarity around workplace culture, it’s a smoother road for coworkers to feel safe and satisfied with work and each other. And this leads to happier, more engaged and more productive teams.


Empower your team and strengthen your brand


The power of culture is an often overlooked yet essential component of thriving businesses. At their best, positive cultures foster internal engagement, creativity and teamwork to lift moods, spark ideas and boost all-around performance.


Conclusion

You now see why a culture book is an invaluable tool for any business. It personifies your ideal workplace and empowers your team to live by and enrich your culture. So, producing this influential resource can offer exponential returns.


With your insight and our branding expertise, let’s create something to help your employees feel more connected and invested in your brand. Drive long-term success by creating a culture book to do the heavy lifting for you.


Let’s create a culture book for your business


By reading this article, you’ve taken the first step to creating a culture book for your business. The next step is reaching out to our team. If you already know your brand’s ‘DNA’ and want support to get it all down, or if you need help developing it from scratch, we can help.

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A specialist Brand Agency


An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.

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