Brand values can be worth their weight in gold. Are yours?

July 9, 2019

Do you know your values?

Quick! Name your company’s values.

A lot of organisations don’t even have values. They were created without leadership ever taking the time to articulate what they stood for.

Some companies have their values etched in marble behind the reception counter, but leadership and staff never look at them and do not live them.

However, in a minority of companies values are so imbued in organisational operations that they are not only lived by each staff member, but employees pull each other up if they are not living them.

Why does this matter?

Make your values mean something 

Is your brand like a living organism? 

The really good brands are living organisms. All extraordinary brands start with a rallying core belief. Values are what you welcome and what you don’t. Every day. Those things that guide your behaviours.  

Beliefs lead to values and values influence behaviours. 

This is where the rubber hits the road, where lofty aspirations become reality, by your brand delivering on its promise through its people.  

Brand strategist Simon Hammond says belief makes people belong, and that drives behaviours. And when brands get this right it should happen almost automatically. 

HammondThinking

 

A household set of beliefs

Knowing your values and living them is one of the most important pieces to get right in a business and one of the hardest.

The problem is that this is deceptively hard. People think their values are assumed. Aren’t they obvious? Why spend time and money analysing them when you have a business to run?

But values that are assumed or taken for granted are not lived values. Values can’t just be free radicals that have no attachment to anything. They have to be emotionally anchored.

They can’t be manufactured, they can’t just be buzzwords expressed to impress. So many times when I’ve done facilitation sessions people will declare values like TRANSPARENT, CREATIVE, INNOVATIVE when their organisation is nothing of the sort.

If you’re having trouble defining accurate values, lived values, you don’t have strong core beliefs, a household set of beliefs that lead to values and influence behaviours.

 

Chief Values Officer

William Boeing founded a company whose core belief was Safety First. It was a key part of their marketing and could be seen in their products for almost 100 years. But then they lost their way, following MBA dogma to maximise efficiency and shareholder value. After two of their planes crashed, killing 338 persons, their CEO repeated that safety was their number one priority. But no one believes them anymore.

For a positive example, a few years back we worked with an Australian drug development consultancy that was bought by an American multinational based on the strength of its values-driven culture. The multinational wanted our client for their core organisation rather than their IP. For most companies values are a tick box: annual report, kpi’s, staff reviews, but it’s very clear to me that when values are embedded in the business, that they drive consistent on-brand behaviours that lead to success. 

You might ask if values are so important, why don’t companies have a Chief Values Officer?

My answer is that values are too important to leave to one person. The best kind of organisation is where everyone is the Chief Values Officer!

Kellogg’s values

So start today by becoming a Chief Values Officer in your company.

Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor

MD & Head of Strategy and Research

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