The phrase "company culture" is often misunderstood. The problem is that people tend to view the desire for a great company culture as a touchy-feely component of business. A non-essential.

That's largely because a great company culture is intangible. It's not a product. It's not as easy to analyze as a profit and loss statement. Company culture isn't even as concrete as the office decor.

That said, building a great company culture is incredibly important. In fact, I would argue building and nurturing a great company culture is key to long-term success.

Learn from the Zappos Culture

“If you want to build a company that attracts and retains loyal employees and customers, creating your own unique culture needs to be a top priority,” says Marla Tabaka, contributor to Inc. According to Tabaka, the online retailer Zappos exemplifies the power of a great company culture—and it's not just because they offer free employee lunches and a nap room.

In an Inc. article, Tabaka shares tips from Zappos and from Dr. David Vik’s latest book, “The Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What you Sell.

Here are the steps you can take toward creating a great company culture:

Define Your Vision

Employees need to know your vision in order to properly align their decisions and actions to yours. That vision needn't be complicated. In fact, Vik’s book suggests doing your best to make your vision short, memorable, and repeatable.

Choose Your Purpose

It’s critical to understand why you are in business when you set about determining what you would like to see in your company’s culture. Tabaka says, “If your company's purpose is only about making money, employees won't stand behind it for long. If the purpose is compelling and gives them a great reason to work at your company, it will attract passionate employees who want to fulfill your company's purpose.”

Align Your Business Model and Your Company Culture

The Zappos mission is to provide the best customer service possible. That may be your mission, as well, but maybe not. Perhaps your mission is to provide a stellar product at a great price enabled by lean customer service staffing.

Whatever it is, you should make sure your business model aligns with the wants, needs and demands of your customer. “People now have a choice and a voice, and companies must evolve or dissolve,” adds Tabaka.

Create Your WOW Factor

What do you sell or deliver that stands out from your competitors? The answer to that question is closely related to why people would want to work for your organization. Everyone wants to feel special, including your employees and customers. When you know what makes your company special, and when that unique characteristic is ingrained into your company culture, your customers will continue to come back and employees will stick around.

Stick to Your Values if You Want a Great Company Culture

A company can’t thrive if it doesn't set priorities and values. Your values let the world know what your company is about. For example, the Zappos core values are:

  1. Deliver Wow Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships through Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More with Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

The number of values you decide upon is up to you, but Tabaka says to choose wisely because, in a perfect world, they will direct the way you operate. You will need to work to assure that those values are imbued into business so they translate into a great company culture.

That takes clear communication, strategic goal-setting consistent with your values, and even careful hiring.

In the end a company’s culture is about more than money. Your organization lives, grows, and changes and so will its culture. If you're careful about creating a great company culture, you’ll attract team members who share those same values, and (hopefully) ensure those who leave have only nice things to say about you.

What other tips would say are important to create a great company culture?