Every business wants their employees to make the best possible decisions – especially in the most critical moments. So why does decision making often become inconsistent, and how can brand values help?

Almost every business has a set of brand values. They’re often written around the time of the company being founded and tweaked during reviews of the overall brand. More often than not, however, staff aren’t as aware of them as they could be, leaving them buried within an employee handbook.

But for brands who truly instil their brand values throughout their business, they can guide employees at every level to act quickly and in a consistent manner when faced with difficult decisions. And at no time is that more important than during times of crisis.

This article takes a step back to discuss what brand values actually are, how they should be implemented and how they can enable a team to work in a unified way when the going gets tough.

What are brand values?

Brand values are a set of guiding principles that drive your company culture. When crafted properly and communicated well, they should make it clear throughout a company how staff should treat each other and behave day-to-day.

How can brand values help decision making?

When it comes to decision making, brand values can act as a filter to quickly run potential solutions to a problem through. Where one decision might be beneficial to the company at the expense to the customer, and another might be best for the customer but not for the company, asking ‘which decision aligns better to our brand values’ gives you the objective answer.

In a complex, fast-changing business environment, decision-making needs to be as streamlined as possible and decision makers need to feel empowered in their choices. Using brand values as your filter for decision making allows this to happen, as staff know they can justify their decisions if questioned.

How is this useful in a crisis?

In times of crisis, your company will be under more scrutiny than ever – both internally from staff and externally from your customers.

By this point of reaching a crisis, your stakeholders will have already gotten a sense of your brand values whether they have been communicated clearly or not. In the case of customers, this might mean they have a different sense of what your values might be, depending on whom they interact with within the business.

So when crisis strikes, the companies with the most consistent values from the start can use them to guide even the most difficult decisions that need to be made. And if done correctly, while the company may have seen a rough patch, there is unlikely to be any lasting damage to your perception as the decisions that were made will have felt consistent with the general modus operandi of the company.

For those without clearly defined values, decision making may seem disjointed and even potentially harsh. The last thing you want to do during a crisis is surprise your customers (or colleagues) with a response that seems out of character.

How can I achieve this with my company’s brand values?

The most important thing when it comes to values is to make them as clear and memorable as possible. Often, companies try to have too many brand values which means that A) no-one can remember them all and B) they can start to clash with or contradict each other.

Clear definition and measurement of your brand values may not seem like a top priority, as they rarely yield any immediate results, but investing in them always pays dividends over time for any growing company.

At Studio North, we interrogate the brand values of every company we work with during our brand strategy process, as well as many other components that provide both short and long-term value. If you’d like to learn more about our strategic process and how it can help your business, we’re always happy to talk.

by Stuart McMullen, Senior Account Manager

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