BRAND VALUES: THE BIG DIPPER FOR NAVIGATING BUSINESS

Values-based leadership is now more important than ever. Values are meant to represent the shift from how to why, ensuring that each and every team member knows what is expected of them.

A business based on corporate values succeeds when it is driven from the top down, becoming shared beliefs. It’s not a slogan on a wall or a list of “this is how we are.” Corporate brand values guide the company by establishing those principles that represent it, guide the way it conducts its business, and act as a check and balance in the behavior and decisions of any aspect of the development of the business itself. If identified and implemented correctly, it will result in a cohesive team that operates transparently and trustfully, is proactive, has greater loyalty, and increases productivity.

What happens is that most corporate brand values are based on similar ideas, helping very little to build differential value propositions. Over time, companies around the world have understood the importance of values, adopting generic approaches such as ethical behavior, honesty, integrity, trust, and social concerns; perhaps thinking that the fact of adopting them is already the wild card that allows them to continue playing the game.

Let’s not forget that the (intangible) values together with the (tangible) benefits are the pillars that make up the navigation chart, that is, the positioning, of the company configuring its differential value proposition.

8 KEY QUESTIONS TO IDENTIFY VALUES

  1. What is valued in our industry?
  2. What do we value?
  3. What do we believe?
  4. What are we not?
  5. What can we do to uphold those principles?
  6. Do our customers reflect our values?
  7. How do our values collaborate in society?
  8. Could our values be penalized in some way?

To decipher values, the first step is to understand what the company stands for through its brand. It is a soul-searching process to find deep down what sustains us. In the process of identifying powerful core values, it is advisable to start by thinking about the business category, in this way we can avoid taking as main values those that the entire sector is supposed to have. For example, any courier company should value speed and security. A company in this sector that says precisely that these are its values will hardly succeed in standing out in the market.

Then, in order for values to be unique, they must be interpreted and described in a distinctive way. Instead of using overly frequent terms, you have to express them in a personal way and differently from any other brand that may have similar beliefs. In this way, they can be understood and shared. If core values are not expressed in clear, motivational words, it will be very difficult for employees to pay the slightest attention to them.

For example, many might define the value of seriousness as: “We handle information confidentially, we fulfill our commitments.” However, Google has seriousness among its values but defines it as follows: “We can be serious without wearing a suit. We believe that the biggest, most creative things happen with the right corporate culture.”

Obviously, this is something that must be seen and experienced from the example of managers. The entire organization must revolve around those principles and ensure that they address fundamental human needs.

Howard Schultz, the executive chairman of Starbucks and former CEO, said, “We’re in the business of human connection.” The case of Starbucks shows how values can form the basis for business strategy. The first thing mentioned on their list of values is something that many attribute as the key to their success: the culture, the atmosphere that their stores evoke. Starbucks defines its values as follows:

“With our partners, our café and our customers downtown, we live these values:

  • We create a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • We act with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • We are present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
  • We give our best in everything we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
  • We are performance-driven, through the lens of humanity.”

As a final thought, it should be mentioned that choosing values is not something that is done once in a business plan and forgotten. It is a conscious and proactive choice that will help you successfully run a company by outlining the beliefs and attitudes that will be shared by all. As times change, it is worth reviewing whether the founding values are still valid. This is the value of brand values.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward

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