You might have read about why I think brand values and culture are an essential starting point in your e-commerce business over here and here and may now be thinking to yourself: well Matt that’s fine and dandy but how do I actually figure out these brand values for my own company? Is there a right way or wrong way to do it? Where do I start?
When thinking about your brand culture, it is important to think about three different time zones: your history, your present and your future. Breaking it down like this helps you to clearly articulate your story in a way that will engage your target audience.
- ### History :
This is about understanding your story. Often you can find your values are really apparent when you look at your history.
2. ### Present :
When you find your values, you can then lead according to your values. Values based leadership is a great way to lead your company and we will look at how that works in more detail.
3. ### Future :
This is all about who you want to be tomorrow, as a business. What do you want to stand for and what difference do you want to make? What’s your cause?
Creating your company values: team exercise
My advice is to involve your team in this process: bring your individual values and brainstorm what you want for your company. Start the conversation with the team about the values of your organisation.
Combine all your brand values on a big white board (Post-It notes work well for this). Look for trends and group them together. You’ll see a pattern starting to emerge. Do this until it feels right, until you have honed down your values to something you all agree with.
That’s your job as the leader. You can’t make everyone happy but you can create values that you believe best represent your company.
Remember to make your brand values inspiring.
When it comes to your company values – you should tell the world about them because you are looking for customers that resonate with your company values. But before you do that – you need to make them inspiring for people.
For example, good customer service is a great value but it is not at all inspiring. Values are one thing, but inspiring values are something else. So Zappos, for example, wrote “Deliver WOW through service”. That’s so much more interesting isn’t it?
On their website, they then write the following to help explain this value:
At Zappos, Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing With Wow.
WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.
Whether internally with co-workers or externally with our customers and partners, delivering WOW results in word of mouth. Our philosophy at Zappos is to WOW with service and experience, not with anything that relates directly to monetary compensation (for example, we don’t offer blanket discounts or promotions to customers).
Wow indeed. Inspiring, and so much better than writing “Customer Service” everywhere without really meaning anything. This is part of who they are, they are not just pieces of paper on the wall gathering dust – this is something real and alive for them as a company and as team in that company.
In my next blog post I’ll share with you the brand values that we created at Jersey Beauty Company.