Culture is your bread and butter. Business leaders spend significant time and resources on developing brands and clearly identifying core values and principles. This is important groundwork to lay for any company. However, just defining your brand is not enough. You must also put it into action. You must live your brand — or, to put a finer point on it — you must behave your brand.
If you are a manager, your employees think of you as the company they work for. When you behave in a way that matches your company’s brand values, your employees are more likely to believe the company lives up to its brand promise. You are the most important advocate for a brand-based culture. Make no mistake. Living up to a brand is hard work, but there is no substitute for it. It makes all the difference between a meaningless slogan and a strong company culture.
The conceptualization of your brand cannot be skipped either. The values you develop empower all the employees of a business to behave in a common way that communicates the company’s brand. The CEO and senior management have the responsibility of leading this charge as the greatest supporters of the brand message. You can read Thoma Principal Martin Thoma’s blog on the five success principles for internal branding here.
You might have an idea of how you want your company to operate, but we can’t observe what someone thinks or feels. We can only observe behavior — a person’s words, tone of voice, body language and actions. How are you training, measuring and recognizing your employees for living the brand? If your brand attributes include adjectives like “friendly,” “honest,” “fair,” and “respectful,” do you measure and recognize your employees for the times their behavior reflects those values? Are you behaving in line with those values? And what about those behaviors that are opposite to your brand values? Do you coach your employees to modify their behaviors?
Internal programs designed to reward and recognize those employees who are living their company’s brand often include concrete examples of specific expected actions. This helps employees clearly understand what behaviors they should be exhibiting. Reinforcing these behaviors paves the way for a sustainable brand-based culture that emanates externally as well.
Outwardly communicating your company’s principles and values also reinforces the expectations of behaviors in support of those values. Companies such as The Container Store and Whole Foods identify and explain their core values on their websites. This transparency establishes accountability for all employees to live and deliver the brand promises.
Business leaders: it starts with you, so behave yourself.
Thoma Thoma has worked with businesses for more than 25 years to help them develop their brand values and teach them how to live those brands as well. To learn more about branding your business, and behaving your brand, contact us.