I’ve had this discussion with a lot of folks over the years and I’ve created the following distinction. Whenever you get two or more people together in any organization, those people will create methods of communicating and interacting among each other that help organize time and effort. These methods could include the way desks and workstations are positioned, where people go to lunch, after work activities, dress codes and annual parties. These things make up “Company” culture. When you hear people say “At our company, we work hard and play hard,” or “It’s a family atmosphere,” that’s a company culture they're talking about.
Now “Corporate” culture is very different. A “corporate” culture is a combination of systems and processes that are put in place specifically to drive competitive advantage in the marketplace. Encompassing such things as work flow processes, infrastructure, training, communication and commitment to a well articulate mission statement (there are lots of others), a corporate culture is deliberate, difficult to build, hard to imitate and results in consistent returns to the organization in product quality, service delivery, cost controls or a combination of those. Corporate culture can’t easily be imitated.
You can name the powerful corporate cultures out there including GE, Dell, Southwest, Amazon, Wal-Mart,Digitas, IBM, and the New York Yankees…each of which has a track record of producing consistent results. Even BB King’s touring band has a corporate culture—don’t show up late or it will cost you. That’s why every time you go see BB and his band you know you are going to get a solid show.
Why should you care about the difference? Take a look at your organization. You know you have a "company" culture already. But what is your "corporate" culture? The second one matters more.