Branding is more than a colour scheme, a font family, or a language lexicon. Done well, it penetrates the very heart of your business, and affects behaviours. It can be seen in interactions between employees, on the frontline of customer service, in onboarding and training new recruits.
In short, it’s cultural.
Some refer to this as a brand’s 'values', and these affect both the way a business deals with its customers and the way people you hire behave within the workplace. They also affect how people perceive your company.
In 1981, soon after going public, Apple’s management team circulated a memo that identified 12 "Apple Values" that made it unique. It defined these values as "the qualities, customs, standards and principles that the company as a whole regards as desirable."
The list included setting aggressive goals, building products it believed in and values related to teamwork – “We are all in it together, win or lose” – as well as attitude: “We are enthusiastic!”
If you’ve visited a Genius Bar recently, popped in store to browse, or used a Macbook Air, these 36-year-old values will likely still seem apt.
You’ve probably worked for a business without any identifiable core values. You may have found managers had their own distinct leadership styles (some more popular than others), that teams had different ways of working, and that customer service was hit or miss, depending on who was picking up the phone.
Point is, if you leave values unidentified, or if they’re simply vague, bland, or ill-communicated then efficiency and service delivery will suffer because people don’t know what’s expected of them. A strong, clearly identified set of core values offers behavioural and cultural guidelines, followed by every person in the business, affecting pretty much everything.
I didn’t appreciate this until we rebranded Claromentis about nine years ago and identified our core values at the same time. They are to listen and understand, produce quality technology, promote team spirit and clarity through openness and honesty, and finally, to have fun.
It was important they be a genuine expression of how we want to behave and be recognised, and to move away from the weak brands and technical jargon obscuring many IT software companies.
These core values give life to our day to day operations and our future goals. They are present every time we speak to a customer, hold an internal meeting, or organise a team night out. They keep us focused as we grow the business.
In the years since our values were established we have increased both our revenue and our staff by 300 per cent.
If you want to take your business to the next level, give your values as much attention as your pantones.