If anything should get the spotlight, it’s your brand values.
When it comes to brands, we like to think of them as a person, especially when it comes to setting brand values. We, as people, have principles we live by, right? Now, take that idea and flip it to a business – your brand values are the foundations of absolutely every single thing that you collectively output, as a team and as individuals within that team. So it makes sense that they’re visible.
Marty Neumeier, Author of The Brand Gap and Zag got it spot on when he said “A living brand is a pattern of behaviour, not a stylistic veneer”.
Sure, it’s important for a brand to look good and sound consistent (trust us, we’re all for it), but they’re tangible factors for communicating your brand and come further down the line. Values have a massive effect on our behaviour and if every person in your team is on board with your brand values, then it makes collaboration a whole lot easier (which is always a plus).
So how do you go about setting these brand values?
Well, it’s something that’s different for every business, but one thing they all have in common is that it starts with purpose or a ‘why’. We like to refer to Simon Sinek, who says that all brands should start with looking at why they do what they do (seriously, if you haven’t watched his TED talk yet, you can do so here – grab a cuppa, it’s a good’un). Once you’ve got that part nailed, it becomes so much easier to set those values – they should all have a ticky box next to them when you ask if they’re in line with your purpose (see where we’re going here?).
Next up – collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. So important, we said it an entire three times (we considered four, but thought it would be a tad excessive). Brand values are the collective values of your team and anyone who associates themselves with your business, really.
Last year, we went through a process where we asked everyone in our team to write their personal values down on a post-it and pop it up on our ideas board (there were a lot of post-its). From there, we started to see patterns and decided on which brand values meant the most to us.
Andrew, our head-honcho said, “It was a great way of not just defining our brand values, but to find out what’s really important to the individuals within the team. Like everything, running an agency has its ups and downs, but defining our values became a bit of a compass when navigating our way through those times as a business, and personally too.”
It helps to get lots of different ideas, then get the key decision makers in a room together to really help to define what those brand values are. This way, it sits true to the vision of the company and everyone has played a part in making it happen – double whammy!
Next up – make those values your own (this is where communicating your brand comes in). After you’ve picked up all those post-its and gathered all that info, you’re left with a whole lot of…something. Now what? Brand values are a personal thing, so they should be exactly that – personal. Sure, it’s easy to say that our values are ‘be nice’ and ‘work hard’ – but where’s the fun in that? When your team read your values, they should say ‘yep, that sounds like us’ and then go on with their day as their awesome selves with those values stuck to front of their minds like one of those fish that soak up all the algae on aquarium glass. How do you do that exactly? Keep your brand personality, tone of voice and culture in mind, and for each value have one punchy, inspiring statement followed by a little explainer on exactly what that means to you as a team (at least, that’s how we like to do it). For example:
Amigos Without Egos
Alone, we’re guacamole, chicken and rice, but together we’re a tasty burrito with hot sauce on top. We always work as a team and leave our egos at the door.
We’ve always been into food here at Casa MadeBrave, especially food of the cheesy, Mexican variety, so we used that little nugget of our culture to get this message across. For us, great ideas can come from anywhere – not the most senior person in the room or strictly those with ‘creative’ in their title. This was the foundation of where this value comes from – we support each other and work together to get to the best idea possible, whether it stems from one person or is built from a little bit of everything (much like a burrito, funnily enough).
When we first read this value – we did a little celebratory cha-cha and then, it was locked away in a Google doc only to be read again when we were pulling together presentations. Not exactly the most inspiring. So, this year we decided to do something we’ve been meaning to do for ages – we wore our values on our sleeves, well, walls.
Let us explain. About three years ago, we moved into our home in the East End of Glasgow and although we decked it out with as many neon signs, VR games and Back to the Future memorabilia as we could get our mitts on (hoverboard included) we always wanted to make our brand values a big part of our day-to-day lives. So, we’re currently working with an A-team of our favourite mural artists and illustrators to dedicate an entire wall (or even a room) to each of our core values. Pretty cool right?
So, apart from making our studio look bonnie, what’s the point in this?
Two words: Employer branding.
For those who are new to employer branding, it’s the soft spot between marketing, HR and company culture and is essentially where you take all the things you do to communicate your brand to the outside world and turn them inside out (well, outside in). A strong employer brand and company culture keeps your team happy and when your team’s happy, they keep your clients happy and when your clients are happy, well everything ends up pretty happy to be honest (have we said happy enough?). So it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are taking time to invest in making that employer brand happen.
Part of developing this employer brand means defining your brand values and making them known. Don’t know about you, but we’ve not met many people who would go out of their way to seek out that Google doc called ‘brand values’ and read it every day to feel inspired (well, apart from the copywriter who wrote it, of course). For something that’s such an integral part of a company’s culture, they deserve to be visible in big, beautiful, colourful ways.
“When I visited companies like Facebook, Twitter and Pixar during a trip to Silicon Valley with TRC Media, I noticed one thing in common – their brand values were there for everyone to see” – Andrew, our founder
We’ve never really been too inspired by those motivational posters you’d see in 80s lawyers offices with hawks on them, so for us, bringing our brand values to life means creating something completely unique to us (just like the values themselves).
At the moment, our murals are still in progress – but seeing them come together makes us realise the importance of seeing them every day. Whether you’ve got a team of 3 or 3000, your office is a living, breathing representation of your brand. Now, when someone walks into our studio, they know exactly what we’re about and that goes for clients, our team and Kev, the pizza delivery guy. Now we don’t need to go digging in Google docs for inspiration.
What are your thoughts on letting your brand values shine? Tweet us @madebrave and tell us what you think. Need a hand with defining them? You’ve come to the right place. Get in touch and say hello!