Employee branding / employee value proposition (EVP)

Protecting employees and their safety is paramount for all organisations in this current crisis. It will take strength and commitment from both the employer and employee side. Activating an employee value proposition will help organisations make decisions that accurately reflect their employer brand values.

From a cultural perspective, in a time where we need to be physically separated, we also need to be emotionally together. A united front and a conscious effort to reassure the team. A time to highlight the value in internal communications and use this time to reinforce culture.

Here are some suggestions on ways to maintain a positive culture during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Ramp up your internal communications - appropriate responses to the evolving situation will speak volumes about your brand. It will also have a positive flow-on effect to your customers. Your employees’ attitude to business, as usual, will translate into their interactions with your customers.
  • For those that can, the move to home working will impact an employees’ relationship with their organisation, as directing culture will now be remote. Technology will play a pivotal role, but communication is just as important. Some companies have created themed group chats, for example, on home workouts, or share pictures of home working to keep up social engagement. You may already be having a morning video huddle (or stand up) with each team over Zoom, Skype, Teams or Slack.
  • If remote working is new to your organisation, it is vital that you are able to maximise the productivity of your team and instil a sense of trust in them. That is where your brand messaging and internal communications need to be ramped up and emphasised via any means possible. 
  • Reinforce and reflect on your values and include the team in strategic discussions where possible. In this time, employees will be feeling emotional, stressed and uncertain. For employers, this moment matters. Each interaction will shape how employees value the company and the brand. Use these moments to reiterate who you are as an organisation, strengthen your culture and drive loyalty.

Employer branding usually references collective vision and values and is often associated with what we can achieve when we come together. It is important to remember that we can achieve great things even when we are apart.

“Newton discovered gravity in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine.”

There is no denying these times are unusual and evolving, but looking to this as an opportunity to dial up the employer branding will help keep your team positive and productive. 

Brands have recognised the importance of customer experience (CX) and the vital role it plays in bringing their brand values to life and living up to their brand promise. The same should be said of employer branding and employee experience (EX).

Just as a customer value proposition (CVP) defines why consumers purchase from an organisation, an employee value proposition (EVP) should articulate why employees want to work for an organisation.

A strong and coherent EVP will provide the north star for employees in terms of expectations and experience.  Read more about developing a strong employee value proposition in our previous blog – Winning the war on talent: the employee value proposition.

Gallup has identified seven stages of the employee journey where employers can make a real impact and create defining moments that will attract, engage and retain the right employees.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 4.22.27 pm.png

*Image source: Gallup

Throughout this employee journey, it is vital that the common thread of an organisation’s EVP is evident and comes to life in a consistent and authentic way.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust is the foundation of a positive employer-employee relationship. Trust is the cement that binds this relationship. Employees who feel trusted are more likely to stay longer, perform better and be more actively engaged at work.

There are two essential ingredients to remember when activating your EVP at each of the stages in the employee journey:

  • Consistency
  • Authenticity

Leave these two ingredients out of the mix, and you will be faced with a recipe for disaster.


Imagine being attracted by an exciting, dynamic job advertisement that promises a particular working environment, and then arriving to find something completely different on your first day. Every time there is a mismatch in an employee’s experience vs expectation, trust is eroded and employee satisfaction will decrease.

An employee’s experience inside the organisation should mirror what their perception was prior to commencing employment. Recruiting promises must be fulfilled, expectations from both sides must be clearly and consistently communicated. 


Just as customers demand and expect authenticity from a brand, employees also want to ensure the organisation's vision, values and purpose are aligned with their own. 

In the wake of the various royal commissions, along with other corporate scandals – companies will simply not retain trusted employees without proving they are ethical and trustworthy. Authenticity needs to be lived throughout an organisation starting from the top; with a record high 65%* of employees expecting their CEO to step up and lead positive change.

On the subject of authenticity;


  • 58%* of employees say they look to their employer to be a trustworthy source of information about contentious societal issues.


  • 68%* of employees expect that their prospective employer will join them in taking action on societal issues.

*Source: Edelman

How can brands attract and retain the best and brightest employees?

As an organisation grows and changes, a key focus needs to be on retaining exceptional talent and attracting new talent to fill the expertise gaps. It is clear that it takes more than just the highest salary to find and keep the best employees, and it can cost an organisation more than it imagines, if an employee does not fit within the culture and share the same values.

Attracting the best candidates

The first two stages of the employee journey is where attraction comes into play. Future employees can be influences via a number of touch points including;

  • Employment Expos
  • Graduate Programs
  • Careers page on your website
  • Employee brand ambassadors
  • Recruitment method and process

Organisations need to put their best foot forward in this process, ensure clear communication of their expectations, demonstrate the culture and clearly showcase their values throughout the process.

Retaining the best candidates

Once an employee has been hired, their experience from this point on will decide not only if their expectations matched the reality, but also if they see themselves having a long-term ongoing relationship with the employer. It is also the time for the employer to ensure the person meets their expectations as well.

How you engage employees in the following stages will impact retention:

  • Onboarding
  • Training and initiation process
  • Performance and development
  • Reward and recognition
  • Career progression

Throughout all of the stages, including the final stages when an employee departs the organisation (either retires or for other reasons), it is important to ensure your employee values are aligned with your brand and that they come to life at every opportunity. 

Creating a compelling EVP

At BrandMatters, we can help you connect your brand values with your employee values. We use a research-driven methodology, mining insights and gaining a deep understanding of your current situation and desired future state.

When it comes to employer branding, we are experts in uncovering and articulating what sets your organisation apart from your competitors. It is these key findings, that will help you offer employees a workplace that is clearly and fundamentally unique. Your employees will be motivated, engaged and productive.

We look forward to working with you to create a coherent EVP that is inspiring, authentic and resonates with your employees. 

Over the past 6 months, there have been quite a few major brands who have faced various crisis situations. Facebook, AMP, Uber, Starbucks and Optus to name a few. Some have been self inflicted as a result of wrong doing or failure in meeting customer expectations. Others have been as a result of something out of their control in which case the company's reaction can make or break the brand and the company's reputation.

All companies, regardless of their size, need to be prepared in some way for a crisis situation. The way you handle a crisis should be both pro-active and re-active. The strength of your brand can soften the blow of a crisis and therefore the pro-active strategies are mainly centred around building a strong brand that has a wealth of trust and integrity built into its equity.



Build it and sustain it. Continually bank deposits into your brand’s trust bank.

Once you have articulated your brand story and brand values, it is vital that you focus on constantly delivering on the promise. This is not just a one off development piece, you must deliver on your brand over and over again so that your customers begin to trust your brand. Your strategy should be to actively make deposits into your trust bank – building the trust and faith in your brand and your business.

The more trust you have built up for your brand, the better placed you will be to recover from a crisis.

Example – Apple

Apple’s brand promise is focused on seamless design and simplicity. It is not so much focused on cutting edge technology, but more on humanising that technology and injecting humanity into design. They deliver on this promise, not only via their product design, but through their branding, their end to end customer experience – from the brand messaging, to the instore experience. From a consumer perspective, they continue to deliver on their promise over and over again – therefore they are perceived as a deeply trustworthy brand.


Make sure your team hold the same values as your brand.

Your brand values should form the basis of your organizational values. These values should be communicated to the team upon induction and lived through the team culture on a day to day basis. If the entire organization is on the same page, they are more likely to make the right decision if they are faced with a crisis.

If your culture does not match your customer facing brand, you will be at risk that the reaction to a crisis will be at odds with your brand's position. If your internal culture marries with your brand values, your organisation is much more likely to have the appropriate reaction to a crisis.

Example: Virgin

Virgin demonstrates perfectly the intrinsic link companies should make between their corporate and employer brands – the two are one and the same.

As consumers, our brand expectations of Virgin are high, and all of the experience is delivered through the employees, so it is vital that the employees hold the same values so they treat customers appropriately and deliver on customer expectations.

With over 71,000 employees, Virgin has built its brand by aligning the customer experience and brand values with its employee experience and culture.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Richard Branson.




Depending on the level of damage and the size of the crisis, taking ownership of the issue publicly is often the first best move by an organisation. Taking responsibility and admitting the error can often start the process of mending the situation with your customers.

A sincere apology can go a long way with repairing the damage to your brand. But more than this, action that visibly demonstrates that you are dedicated to ensuring this never happens again, and that you are taking steps to repair the damage to your client’s experience.

Example: Triple M

Triple M reacted within minutes to the indecent comments made on-air by Barry Hall, he was removed from the broadcast and dropped by the Southern Cross Austereo owned network. Triple M’s immediate and strong actions sent a clear message that this behaviour is not in line with their values. Given this is not the first time the brand has been associated with innapropriate ‘boys club’ discussions on air – the speedy acknowledgement and reaction sent a very clear message. 

Perhaps a story with a less satisfying result is Optus’s coverage of the World Cup.

Example: Optus

With their recent World Cup coverage failure, Optus procrastinated on how to respond for a few days, while it tried to address the technical issues. First, they passed the rights of the football coverage to SBS for the remaining games and secondly they offered free streaming of Optus Sports to the end of August. Unfortunately, for the soccer loving Aussies – especially those who signed up purely for the World Cup coverage – this reaction was too little too late.

"In Australia it really is like a religion and I think that is why we are seeing some of the outrage we are at the moment," SBS boss Michael Ebeid told RN Breakfast. 

Instead of spending money on apology ads, that money may have been better spent providing loyal Optus customers with extended months of free streaming, which is a tactic employed by Telstra in the past when confronted with outages.


You can’t change what has happened in the past, however you can stay focused on the present and future. Bring forward the positive things your organisation is doing - whether it be via content marketing, social media or paid advertising. Use this to deliver a positive message and rebuild your organisation’s public image. Be aware, that this advice is dependent on how severe the crisis is; you don’t want this to appear as if you are trying to sweep the damage under the carpet.

Example: Westpac

While the Royal Commission continues to investigate all the wrong doing of the major players in the banking world (including AMP, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank) Westpac is in damage control mode with a number of prongs to the strategy.

At about the same time, Westpac took the decision to upweight their advertising spend Westpac’s Rescue Helicopter service, showcasing their community focus – reigniting their brand promise of helping in the moments that matter. This may have been planned proactively or a coincidence, regardless, it will remain to be seen if this strategy can soften the blow of the banking scandal – consumer trust in banks has taken a beating over many years, therefore the repair work that needs to be done is huge. 


Reputation is something that is hard to build and very easy to lose, particularly in the digital age where information is so accessible and free flowing. Transparency is vital and hiding the truth is not easy.
Responding quickly can be the key to softening the blow of a negative situation, social media chat is often instant and spreads fast – which leaves companies in a situation where they don’t have time to plan out their response. Companies are expected to be open 24/7 for comment or response, therefore you need to ensure your team (everyone from customer service support to your technical team) need to be well-versed in the style, tone and response expectations of the new channels. In other words, it is important to set your story straight and have very clear communication channels to ensure the entire organisation is aware of the way to respond.

Example: Uber

Uber’s brand has taken a beating over the past year with a raft of wrong doings – the public has rallied together with #DeleteUber movement resulting in over 200,000 consumers deleting the app from their phones. While the company has released statements, there has been a lack of transparency in terms of what actions they are taking to rectify their issues – from employee treatment to sexual harassment and safety concerns. The public, it appears, do not feel convinced that they can trust the brand.


Trust in a brand is built over time. Trust can be severly damaged but can also be recovered. With the right amount of effort and time, it’s often possible for a brand to make a full recovery, but only if all effort was taken to build deep trust beforehand.

Fortunately, not every business crisis will get as much attention as Westpac, Uber, or Optus, however it will always take time to repair a reputation and move on.

If the worst does happen, the best approach is to own up, be transparent and apologise. Identify what went wrong and take demonstrable action to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and, above all else, show your customers that you are continuing to put their needs first. 

BrandMatters are experts in building strong and resiliant brands. Contact us for a brand health check.


Thursday, 08 March 2018 15:01


Product brands used to be the focus of attention for multi-brand companies, but the role of the corporate brand has become more and more important over the years, as CEOs and boards have realised the enormous value a strong corporate brand can deliver.

What is corporate branding?

Corporate branding is the practice of promoting the brand name of a corporate entity, as opposed to specific products or services. The corporate brand is the “umbrella” brand that sits over all a company’s product and service brands. The scope of a corporate brand is therefore much broader than a product brand.

The way a company’s corporate brand and its product/service brands sit and interact in relation to each other is known as the brand architecture.

Why is corporate branding so important?

People now really care about the corporation behind the product. They no longer separate their opinions about a company from their opinions of its products or services. This is largely due to the digital revolution and social media, which has created incredible corporate transparency. Like never before, customers, communities, government, suppliers, partners, investors and employees have a clear view into corporations’ actual behaviour and performance. They can freely share in their knowledge of, experiences with, and opinions of, organisations.

While this transparency and scrutiny can be problematic for some organisations, it can offer an enormous opportunity to savvy organisations. Those that grab this opportunity with both hands, and leverage social media and other digital platforms, can grow their profile, amplify their organisational purpose, shape their reputation, generate positive sentiment, and ultimately, increase the value of the company.

Creating a powerful corporate brand

The creation of a powerful corporate brand stems from a clear strategic vision and compelling organisational purpose, combined with employees who understand, believe and behave in a way that supports the vision and purpose in every way, every day. The corporate brand is also built and strengthened over time through visible, consistent actions and communications to the market.

The benefits of a successful corporate brand

Let’s have a look at the benefits that a strong corporate brand offers the different areas and stakeholders of a business.

For human resources / organisational development

  • Employee behaviours are aligned to business goals – a clear understanding of who the business is and what it stands for ensures staff act in a way that aligns to the strategic needs of the business.
  • Increased staff retention – clarity around what it means to be part of the organisation increases staff satisfaction.
  • Ability to attract the best – consistent word of mouth and a clear proposition to the talent market ensures the company will stand out from the myriad of competitors.
  • Reduced recruitment costs – as the best talent seeks the business out.
  • Increased productivity – as a result of increased satisfaction and understanding of the organisation’s purpose.

For the corporate and business functions

  • Deep alignment, cohesion, understanding and focus across the entire organisation, of who the business is, how it is different and how that difference turns up as a benefit for stakeholders on a daily basis.
  • Overall higher levels of innovation through working more constructively and collaboratively.
  • Increased trust with key stakeholders - customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, partners, intermediaries etc.
  • Improved and aligned customer experience, as employees communicate and deliver against the company’s overarching intent with clarity, conviction and confidence.
  • Reduced confusion and ambiguity when important decisions need to be made.
  • Improved returns on company programs and initiatives through increased company presence, understanding and leverage.

For marketing

  • Economies of scale – one advertising or promotional campaign can serve multiple brands, as they all sit underneath the corporate brand umbrella.
  • Stronger brand equity for product brands, as the positive corporate brand equity “rubs off” on the product brands.
  • Increased acceptance of new products launched by the company, as potential buyers are already familiar with the corporate brand and its reputation.

For sales

  • A stronger negotiating position – a stronger brand brings a stronger negotiating position and more favourable terms.
  • Increased customer resonance – customers have a clear understanding of the value of the business, creating more sustainable relationships with existing customers, and providing new customers with a clear reason to choose the business.

For the value of the portfolio

  • Increased value of the company’s product and service brands – as the equity in the corporate brand builds over time, there is the opportunity to transfer the benefit that it brings to the company’s portfolio of brands.
  • Increased opportunities for expansion – by establishing the reputation and value of the business, we open up opportunities to move into additional markets.

For relationships with Government and media

  • Supports Government stakeholders – smooths the way for Government to support our concerns, views and opinions.
  • Increased positive sentiment and commentary in the media, ensuring the company’s brands receive the “benefit of the doubt” in times of crisis.
  • Protection from possible industrial activity – through positive, accurate understanding of the company and its overall contribution.

For the community

Given all these benefits, building a strong corporate brand is a worthwhile investment for any business. At BrandMatters, working with corporate brands is our daily fare. If you’d like to learn more about how we’ve brought concepts like those described above to life for our clients, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ve performed this sort of work for clients including Perpetual, Suncorp, Downer, Wesfarmers and Sage amongst many others.


To grow and improve performance in this competitive world, businesses need top quality employees who are aligned and engaged. However global demographic predictions have identified that in the coming years certain areas of the population will have a reduced supply of talent due to decreasing population. In these instances, businesses will struggle to win the best and brightest over their competitors. In other areas, exploding population size will result in an oversupply of talent, with businesses struggling to identify which employees are the right fit.

Alongside these challenges, there is also the inevitable instability in the market to contend with. Economic downturn brings the requirement to drive down expenses and reduce margins, yet maintain quality of output. This results in smaller recruitment budgets and more pressure internally to ensure optimum productivity of people.

Faced with these challenges, a strong employee value proposition (EVP) becomes a vital tool in the battle to find the right people, as we found when we spoke to 14 senior brand leaders as part of our Brand Leaders 2017 Report.

How an EVP helps win the war for talent

An EVP summarises the wider vision of a business and defines the employee’s role in delivering against that vision. In its simplest form, an EVP defines where a business is going, what it requires from its employees to get there and what it will provide to them in return. But is an EVP really that valuable in winning the war for talent? Yes it is.

With 75% of prospective employees considering an employer’s brand before ever applying for a job, and 69% of prospective employees saying they would not take a job with a business with a poor employer brand - even if they were unemployed, the power of an EVP in attracting talent is clear.

A strong EVP attracts applicants by:

  • Defining what your organisation offers your employees over and above competitors
  • Expanding the meaning of your business beyond commercial outcomes, helping prospects buy in to your wider mission
  • Outlining the benefits of working with you in a way that is relevant to what your prospects want from their employer
  • Providing a reason to buy in to your business above remuneration
  • Ensuring your reputation becomes a talking point, resulting in more talent proactively approaching your business

In time, this results in a reduced dependency of expensive recruitment processes and suppliers, and your HR team having a larger pool of applicants to select from.

Simplifying the qualifying process

However, a large number of applicants presents its own challenges, if the business then expends time and money sorting through and interviewing to get to the right candidate. This is why an EVP’s role is also to sort in, and sort out applicants at every stage of the process.

An EVP supports in the qualifying of applicants by:

  • Showing that you stand for something clear – by standing for something, you inevitably stand against something else, ensuring that applicants who don’t align to your values don’t apply.
  • Being clear on what is expected – by setting clear expectations around behaviours and values, you ensure you only review applications from those applicants willing to align – and you can check this during the interview process.
  • Ensuring a more straight-forward review process – armed with a clear EVP, HR teams find it easier to evaluate each applicant because the criteria they are using are simple and clear.

Key considerations when crafting an EVP

  • Make sure your EVP clearly stands for something – in order to do this, the organisation must be comfortable with not appealing to everyone.
  • Make sure it is distinctive and ownable – with hundreds of seemingly similar businesses in your industry to choose from, your EVP needs to be different to your competitors in tone and offer.
  • It needs to be relevant – does your target market care about what you are offering? With each passing decade, the priorities of the workforce change, is your EVP making promises that your workers care about?
  • Have personality – you are speaking to humans, so your offer needs to be expressed in a way that is human too. Professionalism is still important, but jargon-heavy offers paint a picture of an impersonal business culture.
  • Reflect the business on its best day – injecting a level of aspiration gives applicants something to be excited by however….
  • ….it has to be true. Painting a picture of a ‘tech focused workforce’ will attract the most innovative applicants, but they will leave quickly if the promises you’ve made are not being kept.

Strong brands are truly brought to life from the inside out. A distinctive positioning, promise and value system are all important brand foundations, and essential for a compelling brand delivery, however, ultimately the value delivered to your customers is provided by those at the coalface: your people.

The real power of people to drive up brand equity is often undervalued, as some businesses are more focussed on embedding their brand in the hearts and minds of their clients. External engagement first, internal engagement second. But is this approach skipping over the latent collective voice of those delivering the brand?

Marketers across sectors are tapping into the amplification power inherent in employees. As social media enters its second generation, the vocal power of individual employees via LinkedIn or other sites to create and represent the brand experience is one of the most powerful marketing tools an organisation can activate. And, in an environment of ever-decreasing marketing spend, activating the voice of your employees is a cost-effective amplification of you brand.

The ultimate power here is those that live your brand amplify your brand. It creates a brand authenticity that a marketing communications program cannot replicate.

Making the brand real

Identifying this latent power is one thing, but, how to activate your people as positive advocates for your brand? There are a number of paths an organisation can take:

Embed the brand internally

Hold an internal brand launch for all employees that generates excitement and spark for your people. By showcasing the brand story, the brand values, attributes, tone of voice and key messages, employees will not only increase their advocacy of the brand, but will also understand their role in delivering the brand experience externally.

Identify and empower brand ambassadors

Creating internal brand ambassadors is a powerful peer-to-peer tool for embedding the brand internally. Brand ambassadors demonstrate the brand experience by example, by living the brand values and evangelising it to colleagues. Be smart in identifying your ambassadors to avoid cynicism, as it is the authenticity of these ambassadors that emotionally connects with others, and motivates further word-of-mouth of action-based advocacy internally.

Keep the momentum going

The hardest part for any organisation – once the brand is launched and understood internally – is how to maintain engagement. Regular brand touchpoints for employees are essential for the brand not to become static, not to become a tick-box HR exercise. All employee engagements – induction, town halls, internal conferences, away days – should work to incorporate and further embed the brand.

Activating your people

Empowerment to share

We all have professional social media profiles. Letting your employees share your content, whether that be thought leadership, blogs or announcements, expands the reach of your messages exponentially, hitting a vastly larger footprint that marketing communications alone. When you launch content, send the link around internally and encourage sharing. If you have 200 staff with 200 contacts, that’s a potential 40,000 people now exposed to your content.

Empowerment to produce

Identify key personnel with active social media accounts with large contact bases. Can these employees write and share blogs? Can they share photos from external speaking events where your people have been presenting? Can they live Tweet from these events? The power of extending content generation beyond your marketing team ensures a cost-effective breadth of thought and reach.

Empowerment to be themselves

Essential in allowing your people to amplify your brand is for them to identify as themselves. The blogs are authored by them; the sharing of events photos are taken by them – not generated from the anonymity of the organisation. Your brand can now own and very specific authenticity: your brand as real people providing authentic brand experiences, further extending the reputation and reach of your brand.

Benefit to the brand

Brand amplification via an organisation’s people is one of today’s essential ingredients in providing differentiation from competitors and having the edge on the scale of external footprint. It provides a low-cost but powerful expansion of your brand’s reach and can further embed your brand in the eyes of your customers and audiences.

Thursday, 02 March 2017 14:19

In this era of increasing competition and products that are becoming more and more similar in features and quality, the possibilities of success by competing only on the merits of your product or service are rapidly disappearing. Values have become far more important than functional benefits. Today, a point of view is as important as a point of difference. So how does a brand compete in such an environment?

Tuesday, 05 July 2016 14:42

A strong brand impacts the customer experience across every customer touchpoint – from your frontline customer service team to the tools and resources available on your website, from your advertising to your recruitment process, your service request response times to the professionalism of your technical support team. A strong brand is brought to life from the inside out. A distinctive brand positioning and compelling value proposition can only deliver meaning to your customers if they are understood and lived by all your employees, every day.

As the end of another financial year approaches, the FY16/17 planning cycle provides a valuable opportunity for marketers to assess the current strength of their brand and establish what investment needs to be made to enable your brand to underpin your efforts to drive a strong return on your marketing investment.

As you begin to solidify your marketing plan for FY16/17 we’ve explored four opportunities for strengthening your brand and bringing it further into focus for your key stakeholders.

Tuesday, 03 November 2015 11:06

Does your organisation have a defined set of values?

Probably - plenty of organisations do.

If so, do you remember them? And more importantly, do you live by them?

If you are like many, or perhaps most, organisations, you are probably shaking your head or even rolling your eyes at this point. Values are generally seen as part of that much maligned trio of mission, vision, values - corporate tools that sound good in theory, but that are more likely to be launched with great fanfare, and then sit on the shelf, ignored and unloved.

But brand values can be very powerful – and worth investing the time in to get right and embed with your employees.

To focus on theory for a moment, values can be defined as beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Or to put it more simply, values are deeply-held beliefs about the right way of doing things.

Strong brand values have a major influence on a brand’s behaviour and help to guide decision making. They act as a set of guidelines to ensure that the brand and the individuals within it know how to behave to stay on message.

Read about the values that guide the BrandMatters team here.

They sound great, right? Why, then, don’t they play a bigger role?

Here’s a clue - do any of these words sound familiar?

  • Integrity
  • Collaboration
  • Respect
  • Achievement
  • Accountability

These are all good words when taken at face value. After all, who doesn’t want to deal with an organisation that has integrity? The problem is that the same roll-call of words can be found in the published values of many businesses, which means they risk seeming tokenistic and lose the opportunity to express the true spirit and uniqueness of an organisation.

So what makes great brand values? Three characteristics stand out:

  • Authenticity: the language is real, fresh and reflects the brand personality and corporate culture.
  • Memorability: they are short and snappy, distinctive and meaningful enough to easily remember.
  • Simplicity: they are easy to live by, and reflect behaviours and beliefs that already exist within a brand or organisation.

Atlassian, an Australian software success story, is a brilliant example of values at their best. You can read Atlassian’s values (and watch the video) here. Not only are the values clearly expressed with a unique Atlassian voice, they are also referenced widely across everything Atlassian does. When I read the values, I get a very strong sense of what it would be like to be an Atlassian customer or to work for Atlassian.

Some other great examples include online retailers Zappos and Air New Zealand.

One question you may be asking yourself is what is the difference between corporate or brand values. This is a grey area, but broadly depends on how the brand or brands within your company are organised. For a branded house organisation – one in which all parts of the organisation fall under one brand, like American Express or Macquarie Bank – organisation and brand values are generally the same. The story is more complicated for organisations that operate as a house of brands, in which many brands sit within the one corporation, such as Wesfarmers. In this case the Bunnings or Coles brand values are probably quite separate to the Wesfarmers corporate values.

A few months ago at BrandMatters, we realised that a few of us didn’t remember our brand values. The meaning of the words we had chosen was fine, but there was nothing about them that felt distinctive or authentic. And for some of the team they certainly failed the memorability test!

This somewhat sobering realisation opened up a fantastic opportunity for us to “eat our own cooking” – to run the type of exercise we might do with our clients with our own team instead. We put the team through a series of homework and workshop tasks. Some were straightforward and others were more creative, but all were designed to uncover authentic ways of expressing what matters to us at BrandMatters. After several rounds of crafting and refining, we are excited to launch our values. To make them more prominent (and us more accountable), we have published these values on our website. You can read them here.

What do you think? Do they reflect the BrandMatters experience? Let us know - we’d love to know your thoughts.

And of course, if you’d like to talk to us about your own organisation or brand values, please get in touch.

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