BRANDS DON’T HAVE VALUES.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pull the rug out from under you so quickly, but it needed to be said. Before you close this article thinking “that’s absolute rubbish”, just wait a moment. Dust yourself off. Sit back down, have some coffee.
Ready? Brands do not have values – wait for it – because they’re only concepts. Brands cannot make decisions, they cannot think, they do not have any form of intelligence. People, however, are a different story (although I have met some people without any intelligence, but that’s a different blog entirely). People can have values, and they can use these to drive the brand in whichever direction they choose.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
It is imperative for you and your staff to really live your brand and employee motivation is the only way to achieve this.
Let’s say that you own a mobile pet parlour, and your slogan reads “Punctual & Professional Pet Groomers”. You assure your clients top-notch quality. Except that your groomers are never on time and your client’s prize-winning, long-haired fur-baby now looks like a naked mole rat.
Your brand says one thing but the customer has a totally different experience. When they write a review on your Facebook page (believe me they will) they’re not going to say that you were “punctual and professional”. They’re going to write a stinking post about how poor Snuffles now has pet PTSD, and it’s entirely your fault.
SO HOW DO I LIVE MY BRAND?
1. Create Personal Values
Don’t fake your way by taking on values you think you should have – you’ll fail by pretending to be something you’re not. Identify what you value most and brand your business to match that set. Serving your consumers will become much easier if there’s a link between your business and your core values.
Don’t be afraid to take on a minimalistic approach here; if you end up with 20 values you’re not going to have a very clear path.
2. Be Authentic
Basically, your brand isn’t the work you do but how you do it. Your brand promises have to match your actions. Here’s a look at how MAC fails to be authentic:
MAC makeup is super popular, except amongst those who only use cruelty-free products. MAC claims to be ‘a leader in the movement to end animal testing globally’. They have a very convincing paragraph on their website that reassures makeup lovers that they ‘do not test on animals’, they ‘do not own any animal testing facilities’ and they ‘never ask others to test on animals for us’.
Except that they sell their products in China, which requires animal testing by law. MAC even addresses this discrepancy on the same page that claims to be cruelty-free by stating “we love our fans and we never want to exclude them anywhere.”
HOW DO I SHOW IT?
Your staff and your customers need to see proof that you’re not just a poster on the wall, but that you live and breathe the values that you instil in your business. The only way to provide that evidence is by documenting your actions on social media. Your team want to have a relationship with you, even if it is a digital one. The goal is to brand yourself as a trustworthy leader worth following.
HOW DOES THIS MOTIVATE MY STAFF?
Because your staff are the ones your customers interact with, your staff become the biggest representatives of your brand. They are the foot soldiers on the front lines of your business. If they think that you’re an unfair jerk with zero leadership skills, and also, you stink, do you think they’re going to put 100% into the work they do for you? Not a chance.
But if they fully believe in what you stand for and trust you as a leader, they’ll want to put 100% into your business. If your staff do their work well, and provide your customers with a great brand experience, your business will just grow further and further.
I wrote an article called Happy Staff + Happy Customers = Quality Brand, and it has some practical tips on keeping your staff happy.
HOW IS THIS A WIN FOR ME?
This is a no-brainer; if your staff feel totally demotivated they won’t represent your brand in a positive light to your customers. The people who buy your products won’t want to return if they’ve had a horrible experience. But if your staff are motivated by your leadership and they want to put the effort into your business, your customers will have a great brand experience. A great experience obviously means that your customers will return, they’ll spread the word to their friends and you’ll make more money.
Leading your staff by example is the best thing you can do for your brand. Not only will they be motivated to make your business more successful, you’ll also gain by becoming more digitally relevant.