Your brand translates your values and gives you a stronger personality in the world. This involves both actions and words. To put it another way, your brand’s values turn nice thoughts into both actions and the words that show the values behind those actions. And where better to begin than to solidify your brand than internally?
Let’s talk about four areas of your business that benefit internally from your deeply held brand values when they’re communicated well.
Brand = Values Communicated
We think of branding usually in the marketing sense. What do we want people to think about us? What do we want to look like to the world? How do we want to come across? What colors do we use? What ideas do those colors convey? What about naming? How do you come up with a killer name?
All these are the predictable questions that we would expect to ask. But missing in these questions is the idea of leadership. How do we make a genuine brand that leads, rather than one that…
- Is desperate: constantly reaching out and grasping after leadership.
- Is inauthentic trying to figure out where society wants to go, get there first, plant their flag and then pretend that they let everyone there.
- Panders. Panders to political or cultural sensibilities that they may or may not believe in.
How do you become a brand that leads, even in the everyday, so that when the big tests come, Your values have had time to become a part of your culture?
Faithfulness in the Small Things
There’s this biblical idea of faithfulness in the small things. The idea is that if you cheat, lie and steal when you have a little, you’re likely to be even worse if you have more.
You are who you are, whether or not you have a lot of money or a little. If you’re small and you have a small job and you’re faithful in it even though it lacks praise and fanfare, you might actually find that you’re faithful when given more responsibility.
Your company can be the same way; faithful in the small things, when nobody sees. When there’s no marketing agency or Super Bowl ad where you can lecture the rest of the country on morality (and how virtuous you are, by implication).
The Small Things Become Your Groundwork
And there’s an interesting implication that this concept brings. It protects you from being top-heavy.
Mountains are bigger at the bottom. A triangle has more strength at its base to support things that are higher up. The skyscraper needs more support at the bottom than at the top.
When you are faithful in the small things and you’re willing to make the small, thankless efforts that nobody ever sees, you are building the ability to be effective. Nobody sees genius in delivering a project on time and on budget and with the quality expected. Everybody wants to be the hero who makes it brilliant. But the brilliance builds upon the foundation.
Your marketing may benefit from branding. But if you do branding right — living out your values today just like when you first started your business — your values show people who you are by your faithfulness in the small things.
If you’re cheating today, you’ll cheat even more when there’s more money at stake. Anybody who thinks differently is tricking themselves. But if you’re generous today, providing good customer service, and if you’re building the foundation that lasts, then it won’t be so difficult to continue this into the future.
So let’s talk about some areas where, if your brand lives itself out in your company every day, it will support a much larger structure.
Brand Isn’t Just Message. It’s Also Action.
Before we talk about internal areas your brand impacts, let’s distinguish between brand and actions.
Branding is the communication and outward representation of inward values. But those values manifest themselves in things that you actually do. So if you claim to have certain values, but never do the things that those values would encourage, nobody believes you have those values.
Values are the philosophical center of any brand.
But what about look and feel? There’s a place for that. Your brand’s personality traits show themselves in your colors, logo, even in how you express yourself in a newsletter, social and internal communications. It’s displayed in your attitude and how you speak.
But even this is superficial to the values. Values are at the center. But true values cannot fail to lead to good actions, planning and diligence that bring those values to life.
You might even say that branding takes place before there is ever a logo or color chosen.
Let’s talk about what that looks like in your company.
People Can Follow Patterns
People can sometimes follow actions, but if you explain those actions, it’s much easier.
If a brand is both actions and the values that justify the actions, then it’s important to do good works, and then talk about why you do them. This shows that you mean it by your actions, and then it explains your actions to everybody and so that they can understand why. Once they understand, they can start to see a pattern. This allows people to follow along with you. It helps people to know whether or not you’re a good fit for them, and it shows your philosophy of service.
This manifests itself in several areas, including HR and hiring, customer service, sales, and leadership. Let’s talk about each one.
Branding in HR
When you decide on values and how to communicate them, departments like HR and hiring both benefit from clearer decision paths. It becomes easier to write job descriptions because it gives you a philosophical template (if not the actual template).
Your ability to write out examples in the job description of your values, with descriptions, will attract more serious-minded people.
Imagine a job-seeker going through job descriptions and reading the mind-numbing posts for “multitaskers” who can work in a “fast-paced environment,” and “think outside the box.” Then they come across yours, with its thoughtful, genuine values. Your company is going to feel like a premium option for them.
Not only that, but your policies and procedures for how to treat each other in the workplace will exceed the legal mandate. Instead of making rules so that you can comply, you’re making policies the support people. Your policies, instead of being made to satisfy rules, will be made out of love. Love for the people that you’re around and love for the people they can serve.
Branding in Customer Service
Some companies treat customer service as a necessary evil, trying to cut costs wherever they can. But if your employees in customer service know what you care about, and they know your passion to serve others, they will feel empowered to go the extra mile, do what’s right, and find ways to know who your best customers are and serve them well.
If your policies and procedures are aligned toward this, and if you have a feedback loop for all these things (and an accompanying process for procedural change based on this), then you have a healthy environment where everyone is able to take ownership and speak into the customer service process.
If serving people is an outcome of your values, and you cultivate a real love to serve people from the top down in your company, then you will actually enjoy serving others.
Branding in Sales
Let’s talk about how it affects sales. Salespeople can be tricky. You can get some really good fits, and you can get some pretty bad ones.
But just like in customer service, when you lead with values, salespeople will be more likely to lead prospects and customers in the right direction, giving them what they need in a way that fits your values.
In other words, instead of just being incentivized to bring in big numbers, your salespeople will be making the right promises. They will be nurturing those relationships, treating people well, and giving them the right information so that they won’t be disappointed.
Branding in Leadership
All this talk starts and ends with leadership. This is where good actions, good values, and good strong philosophy about those values finds leverage.
Your leaders are your first followers. They’re the ones who can go out and tell people about what you’re doing and why. They will be the ones to inspire others. If your leaders can’t inspire other people, then they’re not leaders.
You don’t need fiefdoms in your company. You need people who are able to follow. If you only had words and philosophy about values but didn’t put them to work in operations, you’d be a hypocrite. On the other hand, if you only had operations and actions, how would people understand why you’re doing it (so they can turn around and spread it)?
They can only do that if you share your values through clear conversations about what they mean in a way your customers can understand it.
Good works are great. But if you tell people why, you’ll close the loop, giving them both thought and action. And this becomes an easy example to follow.
Brand Yourself Before You Ever Make A Logo
Your brand anchors your team internally as much as it inspires people externally. But you don’t have to start by picking colors. Start with actions. Turn those actions into words and continually allow them to work back-and-forth, testing each other.
Does this action make sense with our values? Is this value an accurate representation of what we believe?
It’s those kinds of conversations that help you live out your values before you spend a cent on branding.
Let your actions speak louder than your words. Then let your words help people understand why you do what you do. Continually build stronger actions as you learn and grow, building deeper meaning through tighter descriptions of what you’re about.
It’s a process. But integrity and consistency are worth it. Both internally and externally, as employees and customers both know you as a rock-solid brand with well-thought-out and well-lived-out values. They benefit from knowing who they’re working with, and you benefit from customers and employees who are here for the right reasons.
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