Tag: GovernanceValues

Values as a Competitive Differentiator

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…” Howard Schultz, Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

It is no secret that we live in an oversaturated market for many products and services. Every day, businesses and organizations compete for our attention. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements, product placement and subliminal messaging.

As a result, the majority of us forget a brand’s advertising attempts within three days of seeing it. The functionality of intelligent tools that let us search for whatever we need, whenever we need it, also plays a roll in this mass forgetting. We don’t need to remember where anything was or if it was good, because we have tools to access all that information.

So, if people aren’t really connecting to the branding and marketing for your products and services, how can you maintain their loyalty for the long term?

Setting up for success

Brand awareness can be complicated to measure correctly. Especially if you are unsure about what to measure in the first place, or how to properly extract meaningful insights from the data you gather.

Your connection to your customers and service users is about more than the product or service you are trying to sell them. People need a sense of feeling that they can connect with. They like to feel like their purchasing decisions matter and are more likely to support organizations whose values align closely with their own.

Do you know what your organization values? Is there a set of well thought out and simply defined values that are core to the way you do business? Critically, are those values communicated in a consistent way, not just verbally, but in every action and behaviour across the organization?

Benefits of knowing your Values

There is near limitless choice for customers. Anything we want we can get, and from multiple organizations.

We are motivated by story lines and remember them far longer, for the way they made us feel, than if we are told a series of facts about the product or service. The cost or functionality of a product or service can be replicated easily by competitors. When your organizational values are the foundation of every interaction your customers will have with you, they become a powerful differentiator which is not easily copied.

Consistency is key

Having values that set you apart is only as good as your ability to send that message to your customers and other stakeholders in a consistent way. The experience someone is having of your organization should reflect your values in action and behaviour and it should be the same at every point of service. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but when your organization gets this right, it will help you to improve stakeholder loyalty and performance and drive sustained profitability.

Finding the flow

Imagine a time when everyone in your organization is in full alignment with your values. Your employees don’t have to wait or go through countless steps of approval before acting. They embody and live your organizational values in every moment of their working day. They are clear about the behaviours expected and what is not acceptable. They are trusted to do the right thing without micromanagement.

The key to achieving this outcome is alignment across the areas of Brand Identity, Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, supported by Systems & Processes and Measurement & Insight. This is the SERVICEBRAND approach which has delivered measurable success across a balanced scorecard of business measures for organizations in different sectors, of different sizes and in different geographies.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND Global, we believe that your organizational values set you apart. We can help you figure out the values sitting at the heart of your mission and show you how to bring these to life with all stakeholders. When used well, values can build transform business performance. Why not see what we can do for you?

Navigating Brand Identity

“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room” Jeff Bezos

The terms ‘brand’, ‘branding’, and ‘brand identity’ are sometimes treated as interchangeable. The first ‘Element’ of the SERVICEBRAND approach is Brand Identity and we refer to this as the collection of all the brand elements that the company creates to describe its personality and character. The brand identity is what makes an organization instantly recognizable to different stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, local communities etc), creates the connection with these stakeholders and determines how the organization is perceived.

Some leaders in organizations think that their brand is simply the name and logo. Of course, the name and logo are important parts of the visual identity and yet there is so much more to an organization’s complete brand identity. It consists of intangible elements such as the organization’s purpose and values as well as tangible elements such as visual identity and tone of voice. Ultimately, we think Jeff Bezos’ description above captures perfectly what a brand is.

Component parts

In practical terms, the Brand Identity is a combination of purpose/vision, values, brand attributes, unique positioning, SERVICEBRANDSignatures, visual identity and tone of voice. The starting point is to identify and articulate the organization’s purpose and values. The brand purpose or vision captures what the brand desires or promises to accomplish (usually for the buyer).

The organization can use positioning and differentiation to communicate the brand’s purpose and ultimately enrich the brand’s identity. And this purpose can transcend the functional purpose to also express the brand’s higher purpose or reason for being. The higher purpose suggests emotional and social benefits for the customer by choosing that brand. A strong purpose and values set the tone for the organization’s purpose and code of conduct.

The changing tide

In the past, it was commonly accepted that organizations owned their brand identity. The marketing function usually took the lead, deciding what the brand identity was and the used their marketing or public relations department/campaigns to ‘pump out’ directed messages to their target audience.

In the Values Economy, this is no longer the case and an organization’s brand identity is now co-owned by the various stakeholder groups e.g. customers, employees, service partner, local communities, investors etc. In the future, we believe that the most successful brands will not be focussed on direct control of brand messaging. Instead, they will invest energy in being true to their brand identity, led by their purpose and values. They will then focus on enabling their stakeholder groups to communicate how they feel about the brand with these stakeholders effectively acting as the marketing department.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Scott Cook

Positive and Negative

When organizations have a strong brand identity, it gives them an edge of their competitors. When you successfully attract a customer or service user and give them a positive experience of your organization, they often become brand ambassadors, offering free marketing via social media and word of mouth, to encourage others to choose you as well.

Whether you put much time and attention into brand identity or not, customers and service users, will still get an impression from you, one way or the other. Considering the power individuals have in this day and age to influence others for or against you, it is well worth putting the time into creating a strong brand identity, one that raises your brand awareness in the minds of others, in a positive and lasting way.

When done well, a strong brand identity can generate a halo effect or a Midas touch, that makes launching new products or services much easier, as those that have already had a positive experience with your organisation are far more likely to trust you when it comes to new releases.

Your customers’ experience of your brand can also lead to damaging or negative effects. Once a brand is tarnished, customers and service users are far less likely to trust or engage with future products or promotions. This negative association can even lead organizations to rebrand and separate themselves from the core brand identity, consider Facebook’s recent name change.

SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL

Your brand lives in everything your organization does… whether you like it or not. If you treat your brand identity as a lip service campaign designed to attract people, but do not then offer consistency or substance, you will fail, sooner or later. At SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, we help progressive leaders of organizations to create strong brand identities through careful examination of their purpose, vision, and values. From this we are able to create SERVICEBRANDSignatures, that set organizations apart from the competition. Your brand identity is what people say about you when you’re not there, so how important is this to you?

Learning in the Values Economy

The world is changed, and the way we live and work is changing with it. The time when a fixed set of skills could guarantee consistent employment is almost over. The new skills currency is in our ability to learn and adapt to a constantly shifting and an ever-evolving working environment.

When things can change at a moments notice, those people that are the most adaptive and actively engaged learners are most likely to not only retain their employment but thrive in the kind of environment that puts positive pressure on their abilities and challenges their growth.

But this is not just limited to technical or specialist knowledge, how well a person can understand a company’s values and purpose, and then align with them, while maintaining their own fresh and unique perspective, will also serve as a determining factor for how well they fit in at that organisation.

Learning to learn

Career patterns are diversifying rapidly, as long-term positions are replaced by automation or refusal to pay a living wage. As a result our career paths take a much more winding route to financial security.

Resultant of these rapid changes, people are having to adapt, become more fluid and learn to quickly develop themselves in any direction needed to ensure their security and stability in the workplace.

But again, this is not just about our ability to take in facts, learn functional skills or change to suit any organisation that will hire us. It is about recognising our own inherent abilities and values, so that we may more quickly match ourselves in the direction of growth we naturally seek.

The majority of us have worked a job at some point in our life that we did not like. Outwardly, often no one could tell, but it didn’t leave us feeling valued or fulfilled. When learning to learn, it is important to place your values at the heart of the conversation with yourself, if you don’t, you’ll instead have to stay in a position that forces you to put your own development and growth on the back burner, it is likely your career will stagnant, and you’ll become stuck in that job, or on that economic pathway.

Finding Values role models

Cognitive diversity is important in any organisation, it is what keeps the business fresh and up to date with the culture of the society it rests in. If we want to improve our ability to work with others, we need to look at what the people who share our values or sense of purpose are doing and see what we like and what we feel we could innovate on. It is these collective collaborations that serve to solve any problem facing the organisation, as employees are no longer set to one task, but are challenged to contribute to all aspects of the business, its mission and purpose.

If you are an employee, seek out the people you perceive as successful, and don’t ask them to draw you a map of what they did to get there, but ask them what values they embody and identify with. This will give you a much better blueprint for individual success.

If you are an employer, understand your values and purpose, but create a diverse team of learners that can offer new ideas and perspectives on that purpose. If you don’t champion cognitive diversity, you are preparing yourself to run around in circles always wondering why you organisation isn’t performing at its best and having no one brave enough to tell you the truth.

Challenging purpose

Innovation comes at the boundary of stress and struggle, the more we are pressed, the greater our reaction to alleviate that stress, or find ways of doing things that create less of a struggle. When approaching the values economy, it can be easy to think of alignment as agreement, but this is not always the case.

There is a big difference between disagreement and refinement of values. Employees should serve as whet stones with which to hone and sharpen the quality of the organisation, not destroying existing purpose and values, but challenging them to ensure that they are truly lived, and not just words that pay lip service to a marketing campaign.

When you are able to find people who are active learners, capable of challenging the status quo in healthy and productive ways, it can only have a positive result on organisational identity, longevity and profitably.

SERVICEBRAND

At SERVICEBRAND we can help you identify and implement strategies to find people that have an infinite capacity for learning, people who already have a passion for service and authentic values driven behaviour. Moderated by their own sense of purpose and values that will contribute positively to your organisation in a learn it all way, rather than stagnating with a know-it-all mentality.

Alignment And Governance

The last in our blog series on alignment, looks at governance, and the way in which conflict often arises when organizations move away from their values, causing misalignment with their service users, customers, and employees.

Governance is an amalgamation of policies, systems, and structures, along with a strategic, operational framework that aligns organizational leadership to take action, so that they can make effective decisions with accountability.

People over profits

In order to be successful organizations, need to move away from quantitative governance, towards a more qualitative model. When the discussion is always centred on quantity, alignment is at risk.

A common model for defining corporate governance is to describe it as comprising of four pillars: the board of directors, management, internal auditors, and external auditors. Gaining alignment among these pillars is not easy, but it is possible when you live your organizational values. People always have a sense of authenticity about the organizations they interact with. If the governance is strong, values-led and aligned purposefully, that message will permeate employees at all levels and out to customers, service partners and local communities.

“To lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The statement is so simple; it is easy to overlook its profound impact. With this statement, the Roundtable CEOs are acknowledging the impact their organizations have on all stakeholders (customers, employees, service partners, communities, and investors/shareholders) and linking the value they provide to these stakeholders to the success of their companies, communities, and country.

They have committed to deliver value to customers, invest in employees, deal fairly and ethically with suppliers, and support the communities in which they work. This is quite a change from the profit and shareholder focussed approach which (in the extreme) takes advantage of customers, pays employees as little as possible for as much performance as possible, intimidates suppliers to provide more for less and uses communities and environments as resources to be exploited, depleted, and consumed.

Shared values

The people who live most purposefully and boldly embody their values, are not always the best able to teach that value back to others. There are repeating and noticeable trends of the effect of misalignment, anytime a major CEO leaves the company they built; consider Steve Jobs, leaving the company he built when the governance? fell out of alignment with his purpose, only him to be re hired 11 years later, after consistent profit falls. He may not have been the best able to articulate his purpose, but he lived it consistently and his passion to live purposefully, helped build Apple’s cult-like following.

Today, people pay a premium for Apple products, in part because they relate to the company’s purpose of enriching people’s lives. This example should serve as a reminder to any governing body, not to fall out of alignment with the vision, purpose, and values of your organization.

That is not to say, you must live completely unrestrained and give everything away! More, it is about finding the balance between the head (governance and profitability) and the heart (Values and purpose). This is where alignment is key, when you are able to find a way to communicate purposefully, the profits come as a result of practicing authentic purpose. Lead with the heart but keep the head on track.

Governance evolved

The world is ever changing, the rigid reactive structures of old are being broken away, in favour of more active and fluid processes. These frameworks are more fit for purpose in the way they allow for quick changes to be made when things aren’t going right. Having a governing board that is not accountable to anyone else, will never generate meaningful results.

The same is true, when a board spends all of its time in conflict over the outcomes of misalignment, poor public image, low profit, unhealthy workplace cultures etc. It’s tough work, but if there is a problem with outcomes, it’s important to examine the root cause of those issues, not just talk about the issues themselves. Don’t get mad at the rain, understand why it’s raining.

When done right, governing bodies will not be waiting for the next crisis, they’ll be actively tackling the issues, to build trust within the societies they sit, rooting out unethical behaviour and giving people faith in their purpose.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND framework can support governing bodies because of the ‘whole organization’ approach we are able to provide. Starting with how the organization’s purpose and values inform everything that organization does (the good and the potentially limiting).

We can help you realign your organization, from the top down, across all service partners to provide the best possible customer or service user experiences. Tailor-made measurement and insight processes will cut away procedures that do not add value and implement effective communication, reporting and corrective strategies to ensure everyone knows how to be the best brand ambassador for your organisation.

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