The roots of branding begin with the brand purpose. This is the meaningful reason a brand exists beyond earning revenue. It uncovers not just the solution that your brand offers its audience, but how that solution impacts the lives of the audience and makes them feel.
Where is our brand going?
Arriving at this purpose opens up the questions of where the brand is going to go, what it’s going to do and under what conditions is it going to go there? The idea of conditions of success is a foreign concept to most entrepreneurs when starting a small business as “All’s fair in love, war and business” right?
That really depends on what kind of brand you want to have. Do you want your brand to get in and out of the market and make a quick margin before the rest of the world catches on and closes the gap? Or do you want to build a brand that builds a long-term relationship with its audience with a view to making a long-term impact in its market?
Values are Ethical Guidelines
If it’s the quick margin option, then you’ll get little value from the rest of this article. If it’s the long-term option, then the conditions mentioned previously should be considered as early as possible.
These conditions are not so much “conditions” as they are a set of ethical guidelines in the form of values. If a brand has firm roots in its purpose and from this stems its values, a framework for a healthy working culture is created that acts as a driver of the brand as a whole.
Part of Something Bigger
The deeper the roots in the purpose and values, the more tangible that feeling is in the day-to-day operations of the personnel within the business. The feeling of being part of something that is bigger than themselves inspires those within the business to want to do better for the greater good of the brand.
Brands with strong value systems whose personnel are committed to from top to bottom, show major differences in efficiency and happiness throughout than brands that don’t.
Happiness has an Aura
Such brands have an aura about them that spills out with every touch point they have with their audience and this feeling of happier personnel transmits to happier customers. Even those who are not customers of that brand can’t help but stand back and admire the aura of such brands.
Compare that with brands who are out of touch with their values. Most of us have experienced that at some stage. Whether the company has brand values posted on their website or not, none of what they claim is being adhered to, managed or consciously upheld.
These companies usually have leadership teams that are disconnected to their personnel, the personnel feel undervalue, micro-managed or simply that the company couldn’t care less about them. Often this environment breeds infighting, politics, and hushed conversations behind closed doors.
Having core values, steeped in brand purpose from the origins of the business will ensure that as the business grows, the values become part of the fabric of the brand.
The benefits in a values laden brand fabric are in the culture, which is far reaching. Here are some
#1 Hiring talent
Hiring the right staff is not easy. Simply from a talent perspective, it can be a long process with much to hay to sift through to find the needle. Just look at the fees recruitment agents can command.
Brands with a strong working culture act like a magnet for talented people all looking for the shot to become part of something bigger. In a world of office jobs that crush the inner child of many, strong culture brands offer an alternative. A place where work is fun and co-workers are like family and weekends feel like just another day.
Creating such a happy and vibrant environment starts with the fabric.
#2 Money can’t buy REAL teamwork
Great talent is a sought after commodity but even a company that invests in the best of the best, won’t get their full value for money if they haven’t created an environment that breed’s teamwork.
A strong culture environment creates a platform for individuals to collaborate, work together and help each other out. This is not because they like each other (they may or may not), but because they are part of something bigger than themselves and helping someone means helping the greater good.
Strong culture brands are protective of their ecosystem and ensuring their talents values align with the brand values are key. When the personnel’s values align with values of the brand, work becomes a place of pride as their work is meaningful.
Check out this list of the happiest and unhappiest brands in the U.K. It’s worth noting the correlation in the underlying purpose of those brands. Brands that are synonymous with a meaningful purpose behind what they do are happy brands whilst those that are synonymous with being all about the profits are unhappy brands.
This illustrates the importance of having a foundational brand purpose behind the business.
#3 Embracing Challenges
When challenges arise, the want to address them is not based on profit or selfish ambition. That’s not to say strong culture members aren’t ambitious though in being aligned with the brand values, they know that promotion will only be a by-product of genuine support of one’s team members.
That leads to challenges being met head on with collaboration and genuine desire to help each other out. It is the end result that is the most important and strong culture personnel check their ego at the door and go about their business to overcome these challenges.
Weak culture brands on the other hand, usually find challenges, well, a lot more challenging. The desire to overcome the challenge can come from self-serving reasons, which can lead to clashing of egos. With each individual striving for their solution to be chosen so they can claim the praise and bragging rights, the best solution that a cohesive team would find is often overlooked.
Shares challenges that are overcome as a result of working together and helping each other form stronger bonds that reinforce the culture.
#4 Increasing morale and productivity
Millions of businesses spend billions on branding but aligning values that breed strong culture is arguably the most valuable aspect of branding. It just so happens that money can’t buy that.
When people enjoy coming to work its something special to see. Surprisingly, the dominant structures are not companies steeped in strong culture, but companies that have no alignment to any values and simply crack the whip in the name of profits.
People that work in companies such as this not only don’t enjoy going to work, they resent the very brand they are representatives of. If company representatives resent the brand, it’s not only felt internally but externally as well.
We meet people all the time but those that stand out tend to have either a sense of positive energy that’s infectious or a negative energy that’s repelling. Companies, that have nurtured their brand values and culture, exude and aura that is infectious. Companies who are out of touch with their values and who have neglected their culture not only repel the best of their personnel but their clients who follow suit.
Zappos is a perfect example of a happy brand and looking at this video, makes you want to be part of that something which is how many of their customers feel.
#5 Boosting profits
Companies with outstanding culture have valuations much higher than their counterparts because of the level of efficiency that breeds in this environment. Even if a company has a better product, better service or better resources, the company with the strong culture will have a greater advantage. When people buy into a brand, they don’t do so just for logical reasons. Logical reasoning often gets cast aside if a person connects with a brand on an emotional level.
Companies that focus on their purpose and values and nurture their culture with them, often find that the numbers that investors deem to be the truth of a business increase as a by-product. The smart investors, however, go beyond those numbers and culture is becoming more and more of a focus in the analysis of businesses.
Just like a successful thoroughbred racehorse, the numbers can look great for a time, but the long-term value is in the DNA.
When it comes to small business, you might not be large enough yet to be dealing with such issues, however, if the plan is to grow, then the seeds should be sewn as soon as possible. It is much easier to grow with a set of values in place from the off than it is to introduce them later on. More to the point, if growth is the goal, there is no stronger ally than a strong company culture.
Stephen is a passionate Brand Creator and Founder of Iconic Fox Brand Agency. With a background in both financial markets and design, he is well positioned on brand strategy and creative and is passionate about both. Stephen has been featured on Marketo, Hubspot, Inside Small Business, Creative Bloq and more for his expertise on brand strategy and creative.
He’s also a friendly chap so if there’s something you want to know about brand, he’d be happy to get into it with you