It’s said that character is not shown in your thoughts and words, but is revealed in your actions. The same could be said for your company culture. 

Culture matters more than ever; in fact, culture drives the actions that can (and will) impact your brand’s reputation. During the pandemic, employees and companies had to improvise and make decisions in situations they’ve never experienced.

In challenging times, you can’t always fall back on policies, playbooks or precedent. Sometimes, all you have are the norms and values of your brand culture.

LISTEN. STRETCH. EXCEL. APPRECIATE. INCLUDE. These are our core values, what we call the Madison Ways, and they decide everything we do. They’re the heart of our workplace culture and the essence of our brand’s character. We’re sharing them in hopes you may find something useful and inspiring for your business.


LISTEN. Company leadership requires trust, which starts with empathy and respecting the needs of employees and clients alike. Clients look to us for stability and answers, so we’ve always had a proactive culture. That starts with listening, anticipating their needs (spoken and unspoken) and responding with help.

STRETCH. We rely on our employees – their initiative and ingenuity, their willingness to take on responsibility, their ability to find new ways to serve our clients. We repay their trust with more empowerment and pushing them to come to us with new solutions. It’s an opportunity for us all to be stronger that we were.

EXCEL. Our culture and performance depend on being aligned, accurate and informed. And that requires excellent communication. Our clients depend on us to get things right the first time - they already have enough to worry about. We aim to be consistent, transparent, clear, frequent and (most of all) honest in all of our internal and external interactions.

APPRECIATE. We value our team members and take every opportunity to show how much they matter to us and to each other. Cultural rituals still matter, even the silly ones. Anything that might provide a morale boost. We also recognize great work, talk about any issues and chat. Employee empathy and respect matter more now than ever.

INCLUDE. Creative work requires diversity of thought, contributions and ways of seeing the world. It’s up to each of us to protect that culture. We intentionally build a safe and welcoming environment where everyone feels heard, put in a position to succeed and valued for their unique, authentic contributions.


Your office culture – and your brand – can be shaped by a challenge as much as your culture shapes your response. In a recent Gallup poll conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic began, 53% of employees said greater work-life balance and personal well-being are important to their job choice. Today, that number seems low.

The better you manage a people-first culture now, the better you can serve your customers in difficult times and the stronger your brand will be in the future.