Category: People

The trouble with brand values

A value isn’t a value until it costs you money.

For many businesses, the values carefully typeset and hung on the foyer wall are simple statements which the business would like to be true, or would like their customers and their people to believe are true.

Until the time a business decision must be made which pits profits against values, most values go unnoticed by both the business, staff and customers.

And too often, for these businesses, in the battle between the irresistible moral high ground and the immovable bottom line, the bottom line wins.

Not that the value wasn’t good. Just that the value wasn’t right for the business.

They can and should be your secret weapon in realising your business goals.

Values are the core of the moral code.

A value is something you will not compromise on.

This is true of people.

And true of business.

The problem with many business values is not the values themselves, it’s the role those values play in business.

Honesty, Sustainability and Genuine Value For The Customer are good values.

Little wonder they’re shared by 90% of all businesses.

The question is a simple one, “What purpose do they serve?”

If they do not help a business reach its business and reputational goals, they’re just something nice you’d like your customers to hear.

Values serve a simple function. They align the behaviour of the people in the business with the goals of the business. They provide an objective foundation for judging the actions of others and provide a clear decision lens through which to determine the ideal behaviour of individuals, teams, management and the board.

The provide solid foundations for the development of behaviours which win new business and retain existing customers.


… too many businesses determine their values before they determine their business and reputational goals.

No wonder the actions of the people are counter to the promises the business is making to its market, and at odds with the drive to business success.

Determine the business goals first.

From there, determine the reputational goal.

And then ask yourself, “How must we act in order to reach those goals?”

Those action cues become your values.

If your business and reputational goals are different to your competitors, your values will be different, which means your people will behave differently, which provides an authentic, differentiating reason for your customer to stay with you.

Let your goals determine your values.

Your values are the pact you make with your people.

They are seen in your behaviour and reflected in their actions.

The actions of your people become proof of the promises you make to your customers.


Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the weekend

Cultural Cues


The Award for Most Popular

Waleed Ali won the Gold Logie last night for most popular TV personality in Australia.

Noni Hazlehurst was inducted into Australian Television’s Hall of Fame. Only the second woman to be inducted in over 30 years.

Indigenous Australia was more visible than it has been in a while with “The Secret River”, “Redfern Now” and “Ready For This” all getting gongs.

Hillary Clinton looks like she’s all but wrapped up the Democratic party nomination in the US election.

London has a new Muslim Mayor.

There are more female presenters on television than ever before.

It’s a sign of the tides.

People are getting recognition for their ability. Not their gender. Or the colour of their skin.

Hooray for that.

Not before time.


Every time someone breaks a societal chain, or busts a cultural convention, or shatters a glass ceiling, we hear people talking up the importance of role modelling. How African American children in the US can now believe they could be President. How women are slowly (glacially) achieving equality. How minority voices are getting heard.


Despite how we stand and applaud whenever someone says something we know instinctively to be right. Despite how proud we feel when the person on the soapbox says the thing we believe to be fair and just and true. Despite how good we feel when the world aligns with our values. Despite how much we love to hear people who have succeeded talk about how important cultural modelling is.

Despite all this.

Why do we not insist on feeling like this in our workplace?

To be clear.

I’m not talking about discrimination. Or fighting discrimination. Or triumphing over discrimination.

Or equity. Or racial or gender bias. (There are rules and laws and expectations which protect against overt and not-so-overt discrimination.)

I’m talking about something as simple as feeling good about ourselves. About aligning the promise of the organisation with the experience of it.

Feeling like our actions match our expectations.

Feeling like we should be able to reach for the moon every single day.  Like we can. Like we’re expected to.

We take our cultural cues from the people we admire. From the people who have leverage in our world. From our bosses and our peers.

All of the people mentioned at the start of this little piece seem to be in the game for more than just a pay packet and fame.

They seem to represent something bigger than themselves.

They seem to have a purpose. They seem to be fighting for something.

Something good.

Businesses and organisations with a defined purpose are more likely to be successful than those without. (Well that’s according to Forbes Business and Deloitte. The fine folk at Harvard agree. They also point to the importance of making the purpose obvious if you want to see the cultural and business benefits.)

If the people we work with are in it to make their world better, we want to help.

If the people we answer to are just in it for the money, chances are we will be too.