I’ve been working with organisations to define their core values and embed them within their communications for close to a decade now, and it still amazes me how many businesses think that values are just a nice to have. Or worse, that they’re pointless marketing fluff. They are neither of those things.
Values make you money.
Values also get better results from your team.
It’s pretty depressing to note that 58% of people in the UK are unhappy in their jobs, and a huge missed opportunity for businesses when you consider that happy companies outperform the competition by a margin of 20%. Your brain works 31% more productively when in a positive state, so it’s no surprise that happy people produce better results.
In a nutshell, organisational values drive success.
So why are so many companies messing them up?
What’s the point of brand values?
Most organisations have a set of values. The trouble is, they’re mostly sitting in the depths of a lengthy internal positioning document that’s buried at the bottom of a (digital) drawer. The words might be listed somewhere on the website, but that’s all they are – just words.
They’re totally empty of any meaning.
Someone came up with them in a meeting once because they sounded like positive words that wouldn’t cause any controversy and for no reason other than they thought having brand values was something you were meant to do.
What’s the point in that?
Brand values should go right to the core of why you exist as an organisation – they’re your reason for being. If they’re bland and unoriginal then you have gone very wrong somewhere. Why would anyone want to do business with a company with no strong reason for existing?
Your brand values should be unique, powerful and inspiring. And they should be put into action.
What do you do with brand values?
Your core values should guide everything you do.
They should underpin all of your marketing activity – they should come through clearly in all your messaging to your audience.
They should be embedded in your internal communications – the way you talk to your staff, and the way the talk to each other, as well as the ways in which you recruit, develop and manage your staff, should flow from those values.
Your values should be guiding your partnerships, your processes, your policies… they should help determine your goals and objectives.
Values should be shaping your business decisions.
If your organisation isn’t led by its values, if there’s no mission or purpose behind what you’re doing, that will be very clear to your customers and your staff. And they’ll lose interest very quickly.
How can you define your brand values?
If your organisation has fallen into the trap of having a list of values for the sake of it and not doing anything with them, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Get to the heart of what really matters to your organisation. Why was the business started? What need does it fulfil? What impact do you want to have on the world?
You also need to understand the people you provide products or services for. What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? What do they get out of bed for in the morning?
When you can define genuine, meaningful values that are specific to your organisation, then you have a mission and a purpose that people will want to get on board with.