Scalable culture. Nature or nurture?

The maestro of modern day marketing, Seth Godin, sums culture up as how ‘people like us, do things like this.’ Or in other words, how a group of people think, act and speak.

Makes sense. But should ‘like us’ and ‘things like this’ ever change? Or are they constant? Should we continually try to shape new hires to fit our founding culture? Or should we embrace change in order to respond and represent new attitudes and behaviours as our business evolves and when we hire?

Unsurprisingly, we’d argue that authentic, high-performance cultures do both simultaneously.

We’re told ‘knowledge is power’.

So does ‘not knowing’ imply powerlessness?

Surely not knowing is exactly why people build startups?

Aren’t all great discoveries inspired by the unknown?

Isn’t curiosity the continual fuel that keeps founders going?

Not knowing sounds pretty powerful to me.

Novelist Pico Iyer suggests the opposite to knowledge isn’t always ignorance. But instead wonder and mystery. Two drivers for innovation right there.

So why do many of us avoid admitting that we don’t know?

Leaders sometimes think being caught without the answer could ruin their reputation or tarnish their perceived expertise. But in reality, if a…

Company values.

Whimsical corporate jargon? Employer branding fluff?

Or essential commercial drivers for scale?


Give me 180 seconds of your life and I will try to convince you of the latter.

Put simply, values are ‘how we do things round here’. If operationalised effectively and reinforced consistently they guide behaviour, power execution and deliver bottom line value for everyone from seed stage startups to market-leading multinationals.

However values are frequently wrongly understood, widely mishandled and woefully under-valued. Values don’t add value when they are purely seen on cliché custom mugs and tired meeting room posters.

In order to be effective…

Snoop dog, Boris Johnson and Yoda have one thing in common. As soon as you hear them, know exactly who they are you do.

As 2,000(ish) brands launch daily in the UK alone, the battle to be heard intensifies.

But your product’s special right? Sadly, that might not be enough.

When it comes to standing out (and I might add, to the right people for the right reasons) a punchy brand personality (i.e. your brand message, logo, colour pallet, typeface and tone) can work wonders to distinguish you from the mass. A differentiated look, feel and sound can fight for…

The optimum marketing function for a company is one that doesn’t need to exist. We all know nothing cheers a CFO up like a boundless batch of inbound business. Because if you get it right, it’s low to no cost.

So beyond building the best product on the planet, how do you drive unending inbound? The answer is simple: convert your audience into evangelists. Turn customers from users of the product to devout sharers of the word. Enable everyone to tell anyone that your product is the answer to the pain they’re feeling.

The New York Times Customer Insight Group…

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”: opined Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist.

Or in other words, customers won’t remember your product USP, feature or benefit, but will remember how your brand made them feel.

Humour plays a serious role in the fight for our feelings. But amidst the cheeky one-liners, edgy ad campaigns and casual messaging of consumer brands, humour should not be seen as a hack for attention. It should be handled as a weapon and deployed with care.


I founded a sock company called Jollie’s.

A social enterprise working on a ‘Wear a pair, share a pair.’ model. For every pair sold, a pair is donated to a shelter. Why socks? Because they are the most needed but under-donated item of clothing that shelters receive.

And I love socks.

I kicked it off at University selling at pop-ups, then through marketplaces like Not On The High Street and Trouva. Then we developed our own ecommerce site, and scaled our sales through retailers including John Lewis, Anthropologie, Fenwick, Fortnum and Masons, and 65+ nationwide.

Sounds like a story of…

Ed Vickers

Socks. Startup. Brand.

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