With Silicon Valley Bank’s rapid global growth, how does it scale its culture?

For more than 35 years, Silicon Valley Bank, or SVB for short, has helped innovative companies and their investors with financial services through its offices around the world. Its success has resulted in rapid growth and a surge of new employees who don’t all know the SVB way.


SVB was concerned that strong growth threatened its successful culture. But the company has a growth mindset, so they asked themselves: How do we scale our culture globally so we can continue to deliver on our mission?


SVB came to Liquid Agency with the following questions. How do we memorialize SVB’s culture so it can deliver on its mission globally? How does SVB best activate its values? What is SVB’s value proposition to recruit and retain the best talent?

  • Qualitative research
  • Employee touchpoint and journey mapping
  • Employee experience audit
  • Swarms
  • Values development
  • Employee value proposition and narrative development
  • Culture strategy and design
  • Culture activation roadmap
  • Culture launch design
  • Values workbook
  • Values campaign development

We dove into SVB’s recent employee research data and conducted interviews with leadership. We performed audits of SVB’s brand, values, and internal communications. We looked into its current employee journey and the company’s supporting systems, rituals and cues. We also held several work sessions with key stakeholders to understand the history of SVB’s culture. All of which led to an understanding that core aspects of SVB’s culture needed to shift because it needed to align its employees, company and brand so that SVB could continue to successfully deliver on its mission during this time of rapid global growth.


Liquid Agency facilitated three Swarms–our method for co-creating and collaborating with clients in real time.

The first swarm was with employees. It focused on the culture they felt SVB needed to be successful, and whether they believed that SVB’s current values were being lived in support of that culture.

The second swarm was with the executive committee and covered the same territories. We found that both groups were generally aligned as to the culture necessary for SVB’s continued success. Tellingly, both groups believed the current values were not only not being lived, they needed to evolve.

Our third Swarm was with the executive committee again, and focused on developing new values. This was a fully interactive discussion in which we surfaced five concepts. Together, we developed these into fully-defined values. We did comprehension testing with employees to ensure that the meaning behind each of the values was fully understood.


A Swarm is when your key people and our key people get together in a room and co-create solutions in real time. This gets assignments off to an aggressive start, aligns our thinking and priorities, shrinks timelines, and leads us to strategic places we might never get to if we followed a more traditional path.


In February, 2019, we helped SVB launch its culture vision and new values to employees at its annual Global Kick Off (GKO) meeting, live-streamed to all of its offices. Greg Becker, CEO, and other key leaders drove the presentation, and immediately afterward, all employees participated in activities to help them better understand the culture shift and what living the new values will look and feel like.


After the launch at GKO, the company continued to engage its employees through developing an un-boxing activation for the SVBers’ Values Workbook. In addition, using activation roadmaps that we co-developed, we’re working with SVB to continue employee engagement with the new tenets and also operationalize them within SVB’s communications, systems, rituals and cues.

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