While the decline in the oil and gas industry has presented huge challenges, recognising this and accepting the market environment has enabled organisations to re-focus and look for a different, more strategic approach to define their brand and service offering.
The first steps to develop a positive brand proposition and influence growth starts with a company’s values and culture. Business owners don’t always equate an organisations values with the value of their brand. Knowing exactly what you stand for however, particularly in challenging times is critical to establishing a strong culture within your organisation.
Andy Norman, Head of Brand and Marketing, Claxton, discusses in this blog how his team have reenergised its purpose by integrating its brand values into the operations of the organisation and explains what benefits this has had.
WHY ARE BRAND VALUES SO IMPORTANT?
“Core values communicate what you believe as a company and how you are working together towards a shared vision”, Andy explains.
“This concept is powerful. By expressing what you stand for as a brand, you can attract better employees and customers who share your beliefs. In fact, you could say organisations with employees who have shared values are more likely to have high customer satisfaction – something that is key, particularly in the current market.
“The danger is that if you don’t have core values, your organisation will create a culture by default which can be very damaging for your brand.
“A strong brand identity also requires consistency across everything you do. So that means you either change your values to reflect the brand’s offering, or you change the behaviour to reflect the values you aspire to. It’s a tough decision to make, as there’s little point having internal values that don’t fit with how your business operates or wants to operate.”
WHERE DO VALUES SIT WITHIN THE WIDER CONTEXT OF YOUR BRAND ATTRIBUTES?
A brand is what makes your company, your company. It’s everything that an organisation stands for and how it expresses that. It is the sum of every interaction people have with the entity, organisation, or person. A brand logo doesn’t mean anything without the context of the brand’s attributes and its supporting story and the perceptions people have of it.
Andy continues, “In a business the core values should form the foundation on which the organisation is built. They are the key to a well-defined brand. Once you develop your brand values and have all your stakeholders aligned then all your other attributes like your mission, vision and proposition should build logically from there. This in turn influences the standard and level of service as well as how individuals within that organisation conduct themselves.”
The Claxton brand is one of the business’ most valuable assets. As well as clearly differentiating us from our competitors, it helps us to develop relationships with clients, staff and stakeholders by building our credibility and increasing confidence in our capabilities.
Andy explains, “To drive our differentiator, we have worked hard over the years to communicate our brand consistently and have taken every opportunity to provide a compelling case for working with us. This we believe has helped to ensure that we have been remembered and recognised for all the right reasons. As a consequence, this has provided a solid platform for increasing visibility of the Claxton brand amongst our audiences and enabled them to realise the benefits that our products and services bring.
“It has been very important to have a core framework and set of values as part of the DNA of the company to help this growth. This model has been driven top down by our senior management team. Leaders drive values, values drive behaviours, behaviours ultimately drive the culture of the organisation and it’s that culture and approach that has delivered our performance and success.
“It’s common to see some organisations use values such as “Honesty”, “Trust”, “Teamwork”. However, I feel you naturally expect these types of behaviours from any person you deal with – it’s a given surely? And if they didn’t deliver on these sorts of traits then you go elsewhere anyway. So, these learnings, along with my own experiences has helped us define our own methodology and ensured Claxton have a targeted set of brand values and associated behaviours.
“We have been explicit about what our words represent by explaining the advantage that each value provides our stakeholders. Being explicit means that we have also clearly described how employee’s decisions can then influence those values.”
Value 1: RESPONSIVE
Advantage: (Our competitive advantage)
Decisions: Quality + Added Value + Efficient.
Value 2: COMMITTED
Advantage: (The success of our stakeholders)
Decisions: Safety + Dedicated + Accountable.
Value 3: STRAIGHTFORWARD
Advantage: (Our approach to business)
Decisions: Proactive + Integrity + Clear.
Value 4: PERSONABLE
Advantage: (How we behave)
Decisions: Respectful + Collaborative + Positive.
INTEGRATING THE BRAND VALUES INTO THE ORGANISATION
“There have been many drivers and narrative to aid this business exercise”, Andy explains. “We have had to engage with both senior managers and line managers that can take the ideals of the brand and help influence delivery. This engagement process has been particularly important to help our people/ employees understand how their jobs fit into the wider corporate vision and feel they have a part to play in our direction as a company.
“We also ensure our employees have a voice and we encourage them to openly discuss how they feel they have delivered their job against the values. This forms part of our annual appraisal process. All our staff work with integrity to bring the values to life and walk the talk. A competent workforce that can bring the brand to life is essential. It only needs one bad practice to affect a reputation and it can’t be won back. So, our staff always need to be relevant in all that they do. We do not rest on our laurels and are always true to our brand values. We reward and recognise outstanding behaviours by operating an excellent awards scheme for those who have gone over and above their job and displaying the right behaviours in line with our values.”
From an HR perspective, using our brand values during the recruitment process, has enabled us to recruit the right people who share our cultural thinking. We promote people internally based on their knowledge, skills and behaviours which in turn helps us to develop and grow the company and the Claxton brand.
Andy continues, “We encourage our employees to be innovative and creative and actively seek new ways of delivering results in line with our values. We also have an open-door policy and regardless of seniority, we encourage our people to seek opportunities for learning and to take responsibility for their own career development. This culture enables people choice and autonomy which in turn has enabled us to have a high attrition rate. This has more importantly ensured continued brand growth because we are retaining the right people with the right skills.
Andy summarises, “Here at Claxton our value statements reflect how we live, breathe and reflect in all our daily activities. In fact, we have our values statement displayed in every office as a reminder of their importance. They are the guidelines for driving every employee’s day-to-day decision-making and are the tools to help bring the Claxton brand to life.
“What we have found is that these behaviours have in turn influenced how we operate as a business and formed our culture that subsequently reflects on our clients. The brand values we have integrated into the organisation have provided a guiding path to Claxton’s scalable and sustainable growth, which we are all very proud of”.
As Marguerite Annie Johnson, African-American poet quoted, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.