Well-crafted, meaningful brand values are all very well, but if they are simply words painted on a wall, how much are they really worth? To add meaning to your company, values need to be embedded in everything you do.
Brand culture is the approach that will evolve your brand values from rhetoric to reality.
Brand culture is a company-wide attitude that encourages your employees to eat, sleep and breathe your brand values. More than ever, employees are brand ambassadors. If you engage your employees with your brand culture, you'll secure yourself a highly effective and free form of advertising.
It's a well known fact that word of mouth is the most pervasive form of advertisement. In the digital age this is doubly true, as it's now easier than ever for customers to share their experiences with a global audience. A flurry of bad Trustpilot reviews or, as United Airlines learned in 2017, a YouTube clip, can have a serious impact.
The importance of positive customer experience is outlined by Rachel Hatton of Inside Ideas Group and Jez Groom, founder of Cowry Consulting: "The brand is no longer just the four-minute film. It's not even an integrated campaign. Or a programmatic and creatively templated media plan. It's the millions and millions of interactions that combine to create the customer experience. The conversations. The bills. The bookings. The letters. The uniform. The store. The counter. The going the extra yard."
Companies with clear, well-defined values and culture naturally attract like-minded people. This will mean, for the most part, that the people you hire will be an authentic embodiment of your brand.
Consumers are more likely to support a company that shares their own personal values. If a customer picks up the phone to a customer service line expecting a enthusiastic, energetic response but instead receive a formal and reserved one, this disconnect between brand and employee behaviour results in a tarnished image.
Working together, internally and externally, is easier when you're working with people who share your values and who also feel like a part of a bigger story.
A distinctive brand culture will help you to stand out from the rest of the market.
It's no secret that an engaged, happy work force is a more productive one.
A clear brand identity will give your customers and employees something tangible to latch onto. You need to know what it is that makes your business unique.
"It's having a distinct corporate culture — not a copycat of another firm's culture — that allows these great organisations to produce phenomenal results."Denise Lee Yohn - Why your company culture should match your brand
This can be as simple as a clear, concise sentence that you and your employees can shout from the rooftops. What sets you apart from everyone else on the market? For example, on a high street crowded with Starbucks, Costa Coffees and Neros, why should a customer choose your independent coffee shop?
Once you've decided on your brand, write your vision, mission and values. These should all align with your brand. Companies who develop and operate with clearly defined values tend to see higher satisfaction and engagement among their employees and customers.
"If your culture and your brand are driven by the same purpose and values and if you weave them together into a single guiding force for your company, you will win the competitive battle for customers and employees, future-proof your business from failures and downturns, and produce an organisation that operates with integrity and authenticity."Denise Lee Yohn
However, you must ensure that the values you ascribe to your brand are ones that will not only see your brand into the future, but that will align with where you see your brand being in the future. This is a problem Google encountered in 2018. Famous for their 'Don't be evil' brand value, when Google changed their brand architecture, their new parent brand Alphabet dropped the value. But this didn't stop their employees being committed to it. Whether they liked it or not, 'Don't be evil' was in Google's DNA. This value served the brand well, but it began to cause friction between the organisation and their employees, who were demanding that Google pull out of a Pentagon AI project because they believed that Google should not be in the business of war.
Regardless of the right and the wrong of this issue, it goes to show how you should always design brand values with the long view in sight. It also demonstrates how passionate a successful company's employees should be about the brand values. These employees clearly chose to work at Google, at least in part, because of its values.
As we've established, your employees are your brand advocates. In many instances, they're the customer's first point of contact with a business, and they should be its biggest advocates. However, they can't do this if they don't understand the brand that they're selling. Invest in educating your employees about your brand identity, vision, mission and values and empower them to spread the word among your customers.
Speaking on PR Week's podcast "From the Page Spring Seminar", American Airlines' Executive Vice President of People and Communications Elise Eberwein remarked on the importance of training their front-line staff, the cabin crew, in leadership and communications. She stressed that, as the brand ambassadors, they need to be trained in communicating with the public to a high level.
The importance of brand culture cannot be undervalued. Get it right and you'll inspire your employees, engage your customers, and potentially see a positive impact on your profits. A study in the book Corporate Culture and Performance revealed that companies with strong cultures saw a 4x increase in revenue growth.
Recent trends have also shown that people favour brands who share their values. So share yours, live and breathe them, attract the right employees and win your customers' loyalty.
If you need an expert to help design your company's brand values, contact Mackman on 01787 388038 or email email@example.com.
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