Having an awesome product that enjoys a sizeable market alone isn’t going to ensure success. Hiring top talent from the market also isn’t going to help you achieve that. Today’s workforce demands a great corporate culture. And it’s no longer optional for companies to establish a cultural brand that’s unique, innovative and conducive to its talent. For the workforce today it’s as important as salary and benefits. You could say a company’s success is directly proportionate to its vibrant and great corporate culture.

Your culture is and should be unique to your company, its core ideology and philosophy and its purpose. What your company aspires for is what your corporate culture should reflect and foster. Hence, why a specific corporate culture may work well for one company, but it might not for another. Regardless though, there’s much to be learned from great companies who’ve managed to establish awesome and great corporate cultures. Here are a few of my picks.

1. Southwest Airlines

When you think about great corporate cultures you think of startups with their innovative ideas. Not many would consider a 46 year old company like Southwest Airlines, particularly because the airline industry is perceived to have poor customer service and cranky employees. Yet, Southwest Airlines has shed all cliché and developed a corporate culture that boasts happy and friendly employees. The management, in all the years, has been effective in communicating its goals and visions to its employees who’re quite comfortable in the unified team. What really does stand out for them is how they’ve empowered employees to go the extra mile to make customers happy. With this authority employees find it easier to meet the company’s vision.

2. Adobe

Adobe System is a popular name in the multimedia and creative world. What’s seldom known though is how powerful its corporate culture is, particularly in terms of empowered, self-challenged employees. Sure it offers benefits like any other great company, but what’s more is that Adobe doesn’t believe in micromanaging. Instead, it favors an environment of trust – believing its employees will give it their best. And they do just that. Adobe has been a global leader in the creative world thanks to its culture that allows employees to be free, creative and empowered. Going a step further, rather than rating employees’ capabilities managers act as coaches allowing employees to determine their own goals and how they should be assessed.

3. Zappos

When you think of great corporate cultures you can’t help but include Zappos. Zappos has been innovative in everything it does. At the time of hiring it offers new recruits $2000 in the first week if they decide the job isn’t right for them. That clearly takes care of cultural misfits like no other company has been able to. At the time of annual reviews employees take skills tests to validate increased capabilities that’ll translate to raises. It’s a brilliant way to curb favoritism and politics. Above all that, Zappos has created an environment that’s fun and full of happy employees delivering exceptional customer experiences. Perfectly aligned to its customer focus vision!

4. SquareSpace

A regularly voted “best place to work in New York City”, SquareSpace is a startup that’s maintained a flat, open and creative culture. To add to that they offer vibrant office spaces with designated relaxation areas, catered meals, stocked kitchens, flexible vacations, fully covered health insurance, monthly celebrations, and frequent guest lectures. Yes these are all quite flashy perks and benefits, but that’s just some of the cultural charm they have. The leaders at SquareSpace maintain a down-to-earth and approachable culture that wins them much praise from their employees.

5. Recreational Equipment Inc.

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is a well-known brand of outdoor recreation gear. What helps them make this list isn’t that. It’s actually how brilliantly they’ve aligned their corporate culture with their employees. The management believes that its employees give “life to their purpose”, directly linking the company’s success to that of its employees. REI’s CEO has provided testament to this fact stating its outdoors-oriented employees are so immersed in the REI culture that it gives them an edge over competitors. What you’ll commonly find in the company are outdoor challenges which employees participate and compete in. It’s truly the sign of a synergized corporate culture between the company and its employees.

Benefits and perks are great tools to have. Many companies offer similar benefits that slims employees’ choices. What truly does set you apart from other companies is a vibrant, innovative and great corporate culture. The key to successfully build a strong culture is to align it with your vision and purpose, empower your employees with trust and the ability to succeed and to treat them fairly. Our company’s success is directly linked to your corporate culture and that’s why you should be giving it much thought and development space.