Saturating Your Organizational Culture with Values

Who determines values in your organization?

Is it your CEO? Your board? Your marketing director?

If you work for one of the few companies that receive input on corporate values from the leadership team…count yourself lucky.

In my experience, anything related to differentiation and messaging tends to be relegated to the marketing team – values included. Because…it’s a marketing thing, right?

Here’s the problem: Marketing teams don’t have the time nor the authority to create company-wide change for a consistent customer experience. Sure, you can throw the values on your website, or create campaigns around them, but what happens when your customer hits up the sales team…or the support department? Will they get a completely different impression of your company?

Your values are the key to everything: messaging, positioning, decision-making, hiring. Everything. So if you’re a CEO – this is YOUR responsibility. Company-wide adoption will be a matter of you leading by example and strategy.

If you’re a marketing director (or even an HR Director), you’ll have to let values gently “seep” into day-to-day life. Here are some ways to saturate your company with values – from your leadership team to your interns.

Tips for Incorporating Brand Values

1. List (and explain) them somewhere prominent on your website – probably on your About page or a sub-page of the About section. This will probably be the first exposure when potential employees are stalking your business in the application and pre-hire process.

2. There’s always the obligatory ‘values poster’ to hang in the office (I know…*gag*). I’m partial to more creative applications like big wall decals, murals, or hanging signs. For our own brand values, we illustrated a ‘slogan’ for each value that we use on swag. For instance, our “Authentic Identity” value is paired with a slogan that says, “The world needs you as you are”.

We use these slogans everywhere – fun postcards for staff and clients, posters that hang in our office, our computer desktops, phone background graphics, t-shirts, and even mugs.

3. With one of our clients (Henry+Horne), we incorporated values into a brand handbook that was produced for all of their staff. It’s still in use, helping them keep their values front and center every time they design, write, or strategize for the company.

4. I make it a personal goal to review our own values in every all-hands meeting. Maybe it’s redundant and overly-repetitive, but it really reinforces with our whole team that our values are one of the most fundamental pieces of our business and they should be considered in everything we do. It might be a bit tougher to convince partners or board members to use them in their own staff meetings, but it will sure go a long ways towards getting everyone on the same page.

5. I’m a big proponent of incorporating an introduction to the values in employee onboarding. Why wouldn’t you? It’s one of the most critical times to introduce and prioritize your culture. As new hires are getting settled and learning the brand, it doesn’t have to be a big deal – it could be as simple as reviewing company values with a manager.

6. Our staff also uses a yearly values assessment to self-evaluate their ‘living out’ of the values as well as how they perceive our agency’s behavior as a whole. Essentially, we rate ourselves (or the firm) against each value on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘didn’t live out this value at all’ and 5 being ‘completely embodying this value in everything I do’. We come together as a group to share our assessments and brainstorm ways to better live out the values (both individually and corporately) in the coming year.

So there ya have it. Those are just some of the ways you could think about incorporating values into daily company life. Honestly, though, you’re only limited by your own creativity. If you have awesome ideas (or awesome success stories) about saturating your organizational culture, I’d be really interested to hear about it. Tweet at me!

Also…if your company values are outdated or (God forbid) MIA, check out our values worksheet to start thinking about what your company really cares about. If you need some help setting aside time to really hammer out your values and positioning, come to one of our Brand Pitch workshops to figure out what makes your organization remarkable.