Here, founder and design director at The Engine Room, Darren Evans, shares how to fold the unique values of your business into a successful brand strategy…
1. Consider the manifestations of your brand values
When brand values are left to rot as a bunch of words on a website, businesses essentially throw time, money, and resources spent strategising, straight into a void.
That’s because defining a set of values doesn’t just represent how a brand shows up to the world. This carefully curated messaging should be mirrored in the behaviours of your employees too – who embed it into the minutiae of everyday life.
Think, what do they really mean? And how do they manifest? The key is to document them in a way that will prompt continual action and engagement. Far greater than just handing over an employee manual during the onboarding process, they should be involved in appraisals and so much more.
2. Encapsulate the meaning with visuals
Brand values are all well and good. But unless they are widely understood and embodied from the bottom up, they become meaningless. Finding different ways to communicate them is therefore an essential part of successful and sustainable implementation.
Is there something you could say, do, or be, that would encapsulate the right meaning? Is there an object that would offer a striking resemblance, that employees can use for inspiration? These are all careful considerations, that can be made to optimise strategic branding.
After all, 65% of the population learns best with visual references. So, by associating words and concepts with imagery, employees can better understand brand values to not only improve their retention, but to embody appropriate behaviours too.
3. Co-creating meaning internally and with clients
There’s a common misconception that the design process should be left in the hands of C-suite executives, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, any essence of brand should be built from the bottom up.
Why? Because amidst organisational change, soliciting feedback and engaging employees at all levels helps build ownership – making colleagues more likely to become champions of the outcome in the long run. It should be the case that both existing and prospective recruits align with your brand values, rather than just management, to bolster longevity.
Equally, external parties play a key role in orchestrating meaning. You can spend as much time and energy perfecting your values as you want, but they risk being misconstrued if you don’t involve clients and wider stakeholders in the decision-making process.
4. Use them as a review mechanism
As guiding principles that drive both your internal brand and external relationships, marking how your business embodies its principles is imperative. And clients will be your Holy Grail in this respect.
As well as ensuring the right behaviour shines through, it’s important to understand how well aligned your team is with the business’ values overall – whether working on an ad hoc piece of design consultancy or ongoing brand development project.
When conducting customer reviews, for example, consider including values into the measuring system – on top of existing benchmarks around deadlines and satisfaction levels. This not only benefits the customer experience, but keeps the true brand strategy at the top of the agenda too.
5. Align values with new business
The mechanics of business are about finding a new project and adding monetary value. And return on investment will undoubtedly become more prevalent over the next two years, as the economic backdrop becomes more severe.
The recession is going to prompt the re-evaluation of many relationships, as people look to work with more likeminded businesses. Just as brand values can help you attract the right talent, they can do the same for generating new client opportunities – because they’re ingrained in everything you do, and guide your decisions, processes, and flow.
The more upfront you can be about those uncompromising truths, the more straightforward the lead generation process will be for both parties. By optimising alignment, the more synergistic and fruitful your relationships will be too.
If you’re keen to find out how you can develop brand values with purpose and meaning, then please get in touch.
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