There are many global businesses who’s brand has become a household name – for example technology giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – to retailers such as Marks and Spencer, a quintessentially British brand that’s been around since 1884, who’s brand positioning is to ‘bring quality, great value food, clothing and homeware to millions of customers around the world’, and a John Lewis, another retailer that’s stood the test of time, who’s initial brand values were ‘Value, Assortment, Service and Honesty’, and that have now evolved to ‘Value, Integrity and Vision’. Throughout the years their moto remains ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’.
On the technology front, under a guiding philosophy called the ‘Hacker Way’, Facebook are reported to have five core values, namely – Focus on impact, move fast, be bold, be open and build social value. In the early years, from an external point of view, one may say that they were living by these values, however in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and major data breach, one might argue that being bold went a bit too far, and that wasn’t quite the impact they were intending to make.
Living your brand values
I read a really interesting article recently about an Australian software company called Atlassian, that helps teams work smarter and faster, together. Founded in Syndey, with 3000 employees, the company has opted to overhaul how they conduct their performance reviews, to shine a light on their ‘values’. This means that two-thirds of a performance review will focus on how their employees impact the wider team, how they live the company values, and will openly encourage staff to bring ‘their whole self to work’; the remaining one-third will be cover job skills for the specific role fulfilled.
If a business wants to attract and retain the right talent, then their company values need to shine through every division in their business to help build the desired company culture. For companies I’ve worked with, I’ve ensured the marketing team has worked collaboratively with HR so brand values are front and centre in the recruitment process; on-boarding process for new joiners; and the review process for employees. Moreover, from a commercial new business standpoint, these brand values will influence who a company chooses to work with, partner with, and build a long-term relationship with. Like any relationship, if values aren’t acknowledged and appreciated from the outset, the relationship can be very short-lived.
It’s important for employees to live a company’s values and for them to be exemplified in everyday behaviour when engaging with their team and co-workers, through to how they engage, collaborate and communicate with third parties – for example, partners, PR and digital agencies, creatives, sponsors and more. Your values are a core part of your brands ‘heart beat’ and ‘personality’, which is the thing that makes people love (or hate) a brand.
Company culture and competitor advantage
Your people, practices and behaviours will drive a business forwards, but at its core, it’s your company culture that creates competitive advantage. In the past 50 years, how companies operate and how people work has changed dramatically. The current nature of our working environment and the fact it’s evolved significantly in the past few decades, with the growing Gig economy, flexibility in the workplace, the rise of the four day week, and employees working remotely from home or other locations, makes it’s more important than ever that businesses live their brand values, to build a cohesive, collaborative, communicative team.
Branding and mentorship from the best in the business
In my early thirties I was lucky to have a mentor – the head of brand at O2. It was a fantastic experience to receive insight and guidance from Susie Moore, and to know we shared the same passion for how to build a brand, how to bring them into each marketing touchpoint, and the importance of working collaboratively with HR.
Our company values are not just word’s we mount on a wall in the reception area, in the vain hope they’ll penetrate employees, partners, prospects and clients as they pass – our values are words that have meaning.
If you are an employee – Do you know what your companies brand values are? How are you encouraged to live and breathe them? Are they part of your review process? How are you rewarded for behaviour that underpins your employers brand values?
If you are a business owner – How are you living your brand values? Have your values been created with a sense of ownership from your employees? Are they present in your thinking on a daily basis? Are you creating a values-bases company culture? Have you evaluated what values most align with your higher purpose and business?
Never underestimate the power of your brand, it is the most important part of your marketing weaponry – love your brand and nurture it.