Communicating the brand storyBY Australian Retailers Association
Many businesses proudly display their vision, mission and values in the foyer or reception area or at the counter where customers can see it. These statements also appear inside the front cover of the annual report, on letterheads and business cards. In these situations, the statements may act as useful and constant reminders.
The ARA Retail Institute runs multiple workshops on brand recognition and business values. Join the ARA Retail Institute in their latest workshop which looks into how to develop a merchandise promotional plan.
Core business values are communicated through actions, regardless of any stated vision, mission and values. They are communicated to staff through their work experience; to suppliers through their business interactions and to customers as part of their experience with staff, products and the level of service.
In some businesses there is a huge gap between the stated vision, mission and values, and what is enacted. Development of the mission may be the role of senior executives, but communication and implementation relies on the management and staff of each business. Effective communication of core values, mission and the business vision are: much more difficult to do well than some aspects such as achieving financial targets, often maligned, misunderstood or undervalued and prone to being developed as a workshop exercise, committed to paper and left in a folder to be applied ‘one day’.
Build staff engagement
For business vision, mission and values to truly embed in the organisational culture and for customer to recognise these objectives, each staff member needs to clarify how to apply the business vision, mission and values in their area of work.
- Using the mission, vision and values as a guide for decision-making
- Being a role model for new staff
- Providing service in line with the business values
- Encouraging staff to work towards achievement of the purpose
Staff should integrate the vision, mission and values into everyday work practices. By internalising business values, staff members can share their passion for the business in a naturally compelling way with customers.
How does a business encourage communicating a brand through staff?
Staff engagement begins with recruitment. Having clear recruitment guidelines that are informed by organisational vision, mission and values establishes a standard and a desired attitude of potential recruits and most importantly it defines the most desirable personal values to increase the likelihood of recruiting new staff that are naturally aligned with the core values of the business.
Foster team commitment
Sometimes there are conflicts between business values and personal values. This often occurs when business values change or are strongly communicated for the first time. This is an interesting area for team members to consider and resolve. As already established, it points to a need to ensure alignment between the business mission, vision and values, and the personal values of individual members of staff. For existing staff, when business values change it can prove to be confronting and may result in areas of difference.
Open discussion is a useful way to foster team commitment to business vision, mission and values. In an open discussion issues can be brought to the surface and people have an opportunity to think through their own position and experience the perspectives of others. It can assist in gaining a shared and deeper understanding of business values and their meanings. This type of discussion may highlight to a member of staff that their personal values are different from the values of the business.
More often, people are likely to be pleasantly surprised to find the business values agree with their own. Sometimes an apparent difference in values may be resolved by thinking more deeply about what the words mean. The key is to help individual team members see the natural alignment of their personal values with those of the business and galvanise the teams as a unit to act in accordance with those values and in effect self-regulate.
When teams self-regulate if a member sees another team member behave in a way that is not aligned with business values they may provide feedback or a reminder to that effect. They may also make suggestions as to ways to act in alignment. This is often prevalent in loyal, long-standing staff members who take it upon themselves to ensure new recruits behave in accordance with business values.
About ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Australian Retailers Association
Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.