​Living Brand Values

You are the Chief Executive of a well known brand or perhaps a collection of well-known brands. You have developed clear brand propositions and your advertising and P.R. has been carefully designed to reinforce these propositions. The only problem is that your market research tells you that customers do not recognise your brand values and it is possible that are you are delivering an empty promise, what do you do?

Check out the following.

The chances are that there is a missing link in the chain.

Communication Of Mission And Vision

This no doubt has been communicated, but in what way? CEOs and their directors have a habit of communicating corporate goals in corporate goal language. Increased growth, improved profitability, reduced costs are all laudable corporate objectives but they hardly inspire a motivational response from employees. What’s in it for them? Longer hours, less resource, reduced rewards? It’s hardly surprising that they are not ‘engaged with’ the organisation’s mission and vision. And anyway what does excellence in customer service mean?

If employees are to take on board ownership of the future direction of the business, they need a reason to do so – a win in it for them. This needs to be spelt out in language they understand.

Perhaps personal development, career opportunities, increase in job satisfaction and more recognition need to be re-emphasised in communicating the corporate vision, using language understood by every level of employee.

Values Clarification

If values are not translated into competencies or behaviours, and measurements put to them, how will employees know what they are expected to deliver to live out the brand values?

Values need to be made clear to all employees in recognisable behavioural descriptions. They need to be explained, socialised and sold throughout the organisation. Cynics need to be won over. Senior Management need to evidence them. The ‘talk’ must be seen to be ‘walked’. If not, values might just as well be a wish list of out-of-touch senior managers.

Departments, teams, and individuals all need to understand how to live out the values in their part of the business.


What you reward is what you get. Vision needs to be supported by values, values supported by measurable behaviours, and these behaviours reinforced by rewards.

Look at the most-powerful brands, they understand the link between living the brand and rewarding the required behaviours.

Whatever your reward and recognition system is based on – individual, team, department, organisation performance – nothing will happen in living the brand values unless there is explicit reinforcement of desired performance and behaviours.

The place to start is often at director level with bonuses reflecting both results and behaviours. Lets face it, if senior management don’t change, others in the organisation certainly won’t.


Organisations are finding that they need an employee proposition as well as a brand proposition. What is an employee proposition? Quite simply what type of business are you and what type of employee do you want to attract?

Are you:

  • An established, high market share, long term employer
  • A fast growth, high reward corporate
  • A lifestyle provider
  • A save the world, not for profit, organisation

Whatever you are, your employee proposition will need to spell out the type of people you trying to attract. It is obvious, but true, that the first step to living brand values is to attract those who hold your values!

Training And Development

This starts with education of new employees during the recruitment process – what are you about as an organisation, what’s the mission and vision, what are the corporate values, what does this mean to your people?

It continues through the induction process in which these key messages are driven home.

It is reflected in all training programmes, learning and development initiatives, and promotion decisions.

The messages are clear – training and development is for your benefit as an employee and our benefit as an employer as we work together for the benefit of our customers for our mutual success.

Leadership And Management

The definition of a good leader is “Is anyone willing to follow them?”.

The definition of a good manager is “Is everyone willingly delivering the results required of them?”

So what about your managers? Have they bought into the brand values? Are they living them? Are they communicating them to their teams? Are they coaching them? Are they rewarding them?

Managers cannot ensure the living out of brand values if they are rarely seen, not respected and simply want to retain the status quo. There is a world of difference between a manager who has a passion for the business and one who is simply seeing his/her time out.

So what about a shake-up of your management team? Breathe new life into the eager, young, innovative and spirited people who believe in your organisation and want to make a difference.

You can’t make it with substandard managers. The impetus and momentum simply won’t be there.


So where does this leave you as a CEO, with a mismatch between the dream and reality. There are two basic choices – change the dream or change the reality. The first is untenable (unless the dream is ill-founded) so you have one choice – change the reality. This means a return to the links in the chain of success. Which is missing? Which need work done on them?

Its been said that an organisation is only as strong as its weakest link.

What is your weakest link?


To find out more about this topic contact me or join me at Jeremy Francis HR
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