Our word for 2021 is ‘values’. What is yours?
This year we’re working even harder to live our values in everything we do.
The start of 2021 has seen us talking a lot about values with clients and colleagues. Many have come out of 2020 with a renewed focus on building more meaning into their business and work, and more often than not that involves identity work.
In our strategy work with many CEOs and leaders, examining core purpose and values is a key first step, and one of the most important identity initiatives you can lead and model for your company.
Knowing with conviction what your company believes in, stands for and values more than profits – fundamentally why you exist – is essential for every leader.
Something we always say at Mezzanine is that branding starts on the inside.
Without clarity and consistent reinforcement of your values and identity internally, chances are you will struggle to build brand trust externally, and your company will remain in a consistent reactive state.
When doing identity work, it’s important then to consider how to manage the rollout of your brand both internally and externally. More often than not, we see companies place a heavy emphasis on the external rollout and next to no consideration is made to onboard and create a sense of belief and ownership internally. This lack of brand management, over time, leads to a decline in brand belief internally (the honeymoon period wears off pretty quickly) and subsequently an inconsistent experience emerges for your customers that erodes brand sentiment and trust.
Growing Brand Culture
Embedding purpose, values and identity internally
The success of your new identity and whether or not you’ll achieve your brand goals depends entirely on your people. It’s essential they feel a sense of ownership and belief in the new brand direction – if they don’t believe in it, customers won’t either, no matter how appealing your marketing is. It wasn’t always like this, in the past you could woo customers with a big idea, saturate the market with your new branding and no one would ask questions or search for validity or integrity behind your message – things are vastly different today. And so they should be.
Developing the right tools and resources, along with intentional identity and values onboarding, is key in enabling employees to live out your brand and core values. Sending out an email after you’ve rebranded or painting your values on the wall won’t cut it. You need to show your commitment and earn their trust by investing the time to integrate the new identity into your culture – during and after a rebrand. There are many ways we help our clients do this, and I’ll be writing about a few of those strategies in upcoming articles.
Growing Brand Trust
Communicating purpose, values and identity externally
An obvious part of rebranding is introducing your new brand to the market, which involves updating all of your communications and assets. But that’s not the whole picture, and this step certainly doesn’t ‘finish’ with a brand style guide (it pains me that many assume managing a brand is about fonts and colours – if it were that simple, we’d all reach our potential just by wearing the ‘right’ clothes every day). But it’s how you nurture your brand over the following months and years that matters.
To build positive brand awareness, shift perceptions, or ultimately achieve whatever goals you have set out in your new brand strategy, you need to take not only consistent, but conscious action. It’s not about being the squeaky wheel and getting as much stuff out there as possible, that actually breaks trust, instead you need to earn attention. This requires a thoughtful approach to your marketing and communications, where everything is anchored to your values and brand strategy – not just your sales or fundraising targets.
People trust a brand when there is a clear alignment in what they stand for, what they communicate and what they actually do.
If you say you value diversity, produce a Whitepaper about diversity in business but then hire a Board without any diversity, this will erode brand trust with your customer. If your brand promise centres around your wisdom and experience, but you produce content that’s insular and trivial, customer uncertainty will lead to a breakdown of brand trust. Taking a conscious approach to brand rollout and management ensures that the time and money you’ve invested into the rebrand is worth it, and you actually get the outcomes you were searching for in the first place.
In the coming weeks I’ll outline in more detail some considerations and actions to take both internally and externally when activating a new brand.