Upholding company culture in the wake of change

The last year has been filled with tremendous change at our company. We launched the new PENZONE Salons + Spas concept last May, and a second location followed in December in the Short North. We also rebranded and reimagined our approach to beauty — and our entire company culture.

After big changes, we’ve found success in a few key initiatives to uphold our new company culture.

Living the mantra (or mission)

When we rebranded, we introduced a new mantra: “To improve lives from the outside in,” and new brand pillars to support it. We invested considerable time and effort to introduce the new culture to all departments. We created videos, updated internal materials and even incorporated elements into our training programs. And I’ll admit, we wanted buy-in overnight.

Now, over a year later, that the mantra and mission are finally taking hold. Focus across all levels of the company was imperative. Momentum started to build, however, when we encouraged our team members to not just know, but to live, our mantra.

The best buy-in happens organically. Create the guard rails and guide — and eventually living the mantra will become ingrained in the culture.

Celebrate victories

We’ve found that keeping the positive energy going is huge for morale. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot to celebrate. In January, we were awarded the North American Hairstyling Awards’ “Salon Design of the Year,” the most prestigious competition in North America. In April, PENZONE Salon + Spa Dublin was recognized as Salon Today Magazine’s 2019 “Salon of the Year.”

We celebrated with team members and guests at each salon. The validation that our new concept is award-winning couldn’t have been better timed. The excitement reinforced the direction of our new brand and made our team beam with pride.

Our team also will come together this summer for a companywide party to celebrate the accomplishments from the past year. The combination of recognition and togetherness is the perfect recipe for a cultural boost.

Focus on communication

With nearly 500 team members across Columbus, we have always recognized the opportunity to improve communication. With artists and therapists all on different schedules, communication is difficult. We’ve added more face-to-face huddles and are gearing up for more.

We’re investing in a communication tool to bridge the gap between our innovation office, our salons and our professional team. The site and corresponding app will serve as our single source of information. Each department will manage a feed, with messages, visuals, video, content and more. Important messages will be noted with read receipts so no message is missed. The tool will allow two-way communication so we can open the lines of communication with all team members and continue to uphold our new company culture.

In the wake of our recent reinvention, we’ve found the best way to uphold company culture is to teach it, celebrate it and empower people to live it.


Debbie Penzone is the president and CEO of Charles Penzone Inc. Debbie’s expertise as a business leader, hair professional and her avid philanthropy have earned her the respect of the salon industry and the nonprofit community. She has been recognized as one of the 20 most remarkable women in Central Ohio, one of the 20 most intriguing salon owners and was a Smart 50 winner.