Your brand is lived out by your entire company, not just sales and marketing.
The brand of your company extends well beyond advertising and promotion efforts. There are various ways you put the message out in the world about your company and its purpose. It’s important that the message is consistent across all parts of the organization and that brand promises are kept. Your team can’t deliver on a brand they don’t experience or believe in. The steps below will help you work towards brand alignment.
- Know your purpose and your values. Knowing your brand is basically knowing what you stand for. We all have values. We live into them and we live out of them all the time. Working with a coach can help you identify them. If you're a small business owner, generally speaking, you are the business in the beginning. Your personal purpose and values are going to shape the company's purpose and values. You then need to decide if you want your company to stand for those things. What does it look like in your company? How are those values reflected?
- Work with your team to describe how those values are lived out. If one of your values is being customer centric, for instance, what does that look like? Does that mean a customer can treat staff terribly and you’re going to stick up for the customer over your team? Or does that mean you value treating your customers with respect, but expect your customers to treat your team members with respect too? Another example of this is one of my core values, which is fun. To me, if you can't have fun what is the point? The word fun can be interpreted in a whole lot of different ways. In some companies, it’s having 20 foosball tables. That might not be the kind of fun that your organization thinks about. Fun might be taking a Friday afternoon once a month to go do some kind of activity together. Or an occasional happy hour. It might be as simple as laughing during meetings. Define what each value looks like so your employees and customers feel safe in those interactions and you bring people into your organization that are a good fit. As the owner, you could describe to everyone how your values are lived out and make those descriptions on your own. Don’t! It's not fair to the team if you're the only one who has input. You're smart and you have great insight, but you'll have greater insight if you bring other people into that process with you.
- Talk about your values regularly throughout the entire organization, not just with your leadership team. Gino Wickman, the author of Traction, advises having a values kickoff speech. It’s an all hands on deck speech where you lay out your company’s purpose and values, as well as how they relate to one another. You explain why your company values those things, how the values support your company’s purpose and how the team lives into that purpose.
- Catch people living into the values and reward them for it. Catching people living into the values provides great reinforcement and builds relationships between you, the owner of the business, and team members at all levels of the organization. Provide ways for staff to catch each other living into the values too. If Susie sees Jack living into a value with a customer or vendor, she can fill out a form that's on the company intranet describing the interaction and the value it reflected. This reinforces the values and infuses them into the company culture. Culture is the internal version of your brand. Both are based on values, so you want that to be a virtuous circle of the values interacting between the culture and the brand.
Brand alignment is foundational to what I do. The initial focus of my executive coaching with business owners and leaders is helping them understand what's theirs to do in the business and how they then bring their team around them. We answer important questions – Who are you? What are the things that energize you? What’s important to you and what are your values? How are those values lived out? It’s all your personal brand. Your personal brand then leads into the brand of the organization and how that all aligns together. Brand alignment is not just the company's brand alignment, it's the executives brand alignment, and making sure that alignment is set first so that they can then lead their team effectively.
Rhonda Peterson has been working with business executives and owners since 2010 to help them uncover and lean into their strengths and own their leadership roles. Through her executive coaching, leaders gain clarity and are equipped with the skills to build strong teams and grow profitability. Rhonda also uses her signature interactive approach to empower groups as a speaker and workshop facilitator. Participants leave with the knowledge and motivation to focus their energy, do their best work and have a greater impact in their organization and life. To ensure you don’t miss future articles and tips, sign up to have Rhonda’s monthly newsletter delivered directly to your inbox!