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Right Now is When Your Company Values Matter Most

April 8, 2020

Company values, or as we call them at Noble Studios, brand principles, are often known for guiding company culture and brands during the good, fun, prosperous, “ping pong table in the breakroom, right next to the beer keg” times. 

That’s important, for sure, but the truth is, brand principles are the most crucial in tough times, because times of crisis reveal who we really are, and that’s true of companies and brands, too. 

That’s when well-conceived brand principles, and solidly built, foundational brand platforms overall, should perform and really go to work for your company and your brand. They should be there revealing themselves during emotional, stress-filled moments and they should be guiding the way through tough decisions.

It’s in the middle of even the most unprecedented shit storms—like the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic—that they should really show their value.

This goes for any and every company. Never have we seen so many brilliant leaders (of successful companies, destinations, agencies and more) struggling for answers to help their organizations, their teams, their clients, their futures as we have during the Coronavirus pandemic. That’s when company values and brand principles matter most.

Whether you need to make brutal decisions about cutting expenses and/or staff, or how to market to your customers in the most helpful, sensitive way, or how to guide company behavior when all of a sudden a large portion of your team is dispersed, stressed and holed up in their homes, you can fall back on powerful principles with complete confidence.

When it’s hardest to think clearly, you can take a “stop and think” moment,  pause and reflect on what your brand principles would have you do. Over and over they act as that friend or confidante who can look at things for you through fresh eyes.

Here are some tips for creating brand principles, company values, or whatever you want to call them, that will perform for you and your company when you need them most.

Make Them Authentic

No matter how clever, creative or inspirational a brand value is, if it’s not founded in authenticity–the truth of your culture and what you truly believe in as a company and brand–they will fail you. First of all, your team can sniff out bullshit like a snarky bloodhound, so inauthentic values will ring hollow and will not attach to your culture in the first place. But let’s say everyone played along for a while, ultimately a value won’t feel natural to embrace during a crisis, because it’s not actually reflective of who you are. Instead, you and your team will lean on instincts, impulses or personal values, which may or may not be right for your company in the moment. 

Make Them Dimensional

We believe a brand principle should have the dimension to guide company culture as well as brand communications. After all, ideally, they are one in the same. Imagine a venn diagram with one circle as company values and the other as brand values, a brand principle should live in that sweet spot where they overlap, able to flex both internally and externally. This creates a simplified, streamlined core belief system that is easy for your team to wrap their minds around and ensures you’re behaving the same way internally and externally. This will pay dividends in times of crisis, because everyone will understand what the brand principles are and how they work culturally and with customer communications.

Make Them Meaningful

Part of making your brand principles meaningful has already been described–making them authentic and dimensional. But another aspect of making them meaningful is making them powerful. They should inspire emotion, make people think and drive positive action. Skip dull words and cliches that just sit there in a Word doc or on a cheesy poster lifelessly. We’ve all seen lists of values that include words like, “Quality, Integrity and Professionalism.” Yawn. It’s not that those things aren’t important in our companies, but they hardly evoke passion or leave an imprint. For instance, one of our own core principles at Noble Studios is the idea of “ownership,” so we named it, “Grab the Noble by the Horns.” Try to create a visual image and sense of action. Use your imagination and make them memorable.

Make Use Of Them

If you don’t use it you’ll lose it, practice makes perfect, you get out what you put in, you’ve heard all this before. It’s true, though. You have to practice, finding ways to work your brand principles and values into your daily work life, routines, communications and decision making. Otherwise, you’ll forget about them or won’t know how to lean on them when you need support or a boost. To use a sports analogy, if you’re learning a new technique–the right way to do something to elevate your game–and you don’t practice it over and over until it becomes second nature, when the pressure is on during competition, you don’t feel comfortable doing it the right way and you fall back on bad habits. It’s the exact same thing with company values and brand principles. You and your team have to practice using them day in and day out. Try inserting them into your hiring process, in your annual reviews, employee of the month votes, as driving pillars of new company initiatives and brand communication

These are just a few tips to create brand principles that will serve your company culture and brand well all the time, especially during tough times. And you never know when those will come along, so the best way to look at it is that right now is when your company values and brand principles matter most, and it’s always right now.

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