I was at the Brighton and Hove Chamber’s annual conference (#BrightonSummit) last Friday and as always, it was an inspiring day; meeting great people and listening to often moving and thought provoking key note speakers.
One of the topics that was discussed a couple of times was ‘what is a brand?’ There was a clear message that it runs much deeper than just a name and a logo. A brand is the company’s personality as well as the (emotional) relationships it has with its customers (after all, we all have brands we love and ones we dislike!). A brand is the ‘lived experience’ that keeps you coming back for more (whether you’re a customer, employee or partner).
Companies that have a clear brand and translate it into internal brand values seem to be the ones that grow significantly without losing that magical essence that they had when they were small. Many companies believe that this isn’t possible and look back when they were small, aligned and still a ‘family’, and wish for the ‘good old days’. But clearly it doesn’t have to be like this.
Higgidy Pies, our local Sussex pie maker, a small start up that is now 300 staff with aspirations to double in size said that they have done a lot of work on their brand and values, asking staff ‘What makes Higgidy, Higgidy?” and using these values to live by every day and to recruit the right staff. You definitely get a sense of that from the branding on their packaging, to their website, the way they speak, their ethos and their approach. Having spent some time defining and articulating their brand, they are creating a sound platform for growth.
Many SME businesses would be wise to follow their lead. Occasionally when I discuss brand and values with prospective clients, they feel like it’s a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential but they would be wrong! Getting clear on your brand and your Company values helps differentiate yourself from the competition, create a brand that attracts and retains staff, and reaches the right kind of customer. So how can brand clarity be a ‘fluffy’ nice to have?
If this strikes a chord with you then let’s have a chat.
I used to run a marketing company which I sold to a big US firm. I had the opportunity of going to their annual conference in Minneapolis and (like any Brit would be) was surprised to read a sign above reception saying “Please leave any hand guns at reception and pick up when leaving”. I often think about this sign and how it applies to staff members leaving their personal issues and baggage at the front door and knowing it will still be there, for them to pick up, when they leave the office!
When we go to work we all have a duty to be consistent in our behaviours – regardless of what is going on in our personal lives – indeed in some cases, work becomes the safe santary when issues are occuring outside of work.
To be honest, I’m pretty blunt with my view on this – if you have a serious issue then you shouldn’t be in work, otherwise, park it and be consistent (as I say ‘be the best version of yourself you can be every day’) because sure as anything the issue will be the same, regardless of how you behave at work!
I had a recent conversation with a client who has an emotional member of staff and this member of staff likes to share her emotion around. Of course there are 100 reasons why she does this but if we become the ‘rescuer’ to this kind of behaviour then we are only adding fuel to their fire. What a great manager does is support their staff not rescue them. So they need to consider their language and approach carefully.
This issue starts (or stops) with a company’s culture: What is acceptable in the work place? What isn’t? Any new members of staff will quickly get a feel for this and understand what the parameters and boundaries are for acceptable behaviour. And not everything needs a company policy (e.g. personal phone calls) but a clearly defined culture and set of values (which define acceptable behaviours).
So if this issue effects your company consider carefully what is acceptable and of course, make sure you lead by example.
Last week seems to have been a week with lots of discussions around business culture. This is really refreshing for me. When businesses are busy they often just focus on the next priority (or crisis!).
All very valid, but can you really only focus on that without ever considering the ‘softer’ cultural aspect of your business? So it was great to go to a networking event and listen to 2 inspiring presentations around culture and how to drive it deep within an organisation, and then have several other enlightened debates about culture and values during the week.
So what is culture? Well quite simply, it is how we behave every day – both towards our external markets (customers, partners, suppliers etc) and internally, towards each other. The key for a business is to define it’s culture by identifying it’s values and then translating these into everyday behaviours. That way they become much more than just words over the reception desk or a paragraph in a company handbook.
I love to do this work with businesses large and small (and you are never too small to define your culture) – you get to see the ‘light’ go on and see transformational behaviour changes. It affects not only how we perform but also how we communicate, recruit and perhaps most surprisingly, what we expect from our customers, and the type of customer we attract. Consider this – I bet that your best customers are the ones who have a similar set of values to your business.
So how well is your culture and values defined? Could I go and ask any member of your staff what your core values are? Would they know them without thinking? Do they live them everyday? It’s a great piece of work to do, can involve the whole organisation and is incredibly motivating. Get in touch to find out more about the process.