abandonclosediscoverdisruptionfacebookgoogle-plus instagram linkedinmap-markerphonepinterestsearchtwittervimeo-squareyoutube email

Want to know what your company values should be? Here are the top 24.

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many businesses to connect with customers differently, making the value of the trust and close relationships built in the past a lifeboat. So, if you are now asking whether your company purpose, vision and values are fit for this new world, the answer is simple: Customer – Team – Quality, is the recipe for success.

In this light series of blogs, I’m looking at what brands can do if they are thinking of revisiting that triumvirate, starting with values.

To start, we asked ourselves what the most successful businesses were saying when it came to their values. And so, we took a deeper look at the top 100 fastest growing start-up businesses in Europe and what they were saying about what they valued. To make things a little more relevant, we only focused on businesses with 100 employees or more. This gives us a number of businesses (36 to be precise) where there is some scale and the potential that the values are alive and articulated regularly, although there is no certainty this is the case.

What is a company value?

It’s important to define what is meant by a company value. A value is a principle, a standard of behaviour and a judgement of what is important in what a brand and its employees do and do not do. It is a statement about how brands act.

A value is not an offer. Employee value propositions will talk about competitive pay. This is an offer, not a value. Organisations may talk about unrivalled experience. This is a competency or capability and we’ve been careful to extract these from the analysis.

What did we discover?

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as selecting the three values we opened the blog with, although these were the most popular categories selected 20% of the time. The range of values was reassuring in that it suggested a genuine hunt for distinct, relevant and authentic values.

Among the companies we looked at, seven kept their values out of the public domain – in that they were not to be found on their website or LinkedIn pages. Does this mean that they protect their values as a secret ingredient; a part of the DNA so important to brand success that it is IP that should be held under lock and key internally – or does it mean they simply don’t value their values? Undoubtedly the former. In all but two cases, we found mention of what those brands valued throughout their web, Glassdoor and LinkedIn presence. What a brand believes and places value on when it comes to how it shows up and how its people behave is clearly important.

The trick of merging was widespread. For example, Humble & Honest and Relentlessly Resourceful are not single values but two, and a trick of illation which in our view diminishes the power of the two. In our work we’ve separated these out as two values.

The 24 values

In total, there were 24 different values categories we identified, and we have grouped these into three leagues. The Premier League features values mentioned in 20% of the companies we examined; League 2 features values mentioned in 10% of cases; and League 3 brings up the rear and features values mentioned between 1 and 3 times.

Let’s start with League 3, and probably because it contains a few surprising candidates.

League 3

We live in an age where sustainability, social responsibility, inclusivity and respect are words that we often hear touted in consultancy papers and the mainstream media. They did not feature heavily in the explicit values called out by the companies we examined.

It was not rare for these words to be mentioned in supporting copy, but they were not called out as specific values.

In our lowest league we discovered the following values:

  • Personal development and learning
  • Agility
  • Sustainability and ethics
  • Respect
  • Bold and courageous
  • Diversity and inclusivity

We live in an age where sustainability, social responsibility, inclusivity and respect are words that we often hear touted in consultancy papers and the mainstream media. They did not feature heavily in the explicit values called out by the companies we examined.

League 2

There were five themes that emerged in the next league and they majored on how businesses work; their ambition; their reason for being and their character.

We saw the values of trust and collaboration along with ease and simplicity that promise customers and employees alike an experience which empowers them. These values are about freedom and control.

Purpose is something that is on many executive lips at the moment, and yet it only featured 15% of the time. It was boosted when mentioned in the same breath as valuing progressive innovation and having a growth mindset. In some cases, this mindset was combined with valuing the power of technology in meeting the challenges that customers face in the future.

Purpose alone stands above values and it was not uncommon for brands to make clear their beliefs, if not explicitly, in supporting copy. We’ll explore this in future blogs.

In our middle league we discovered the following values:

  • Ease and simplicity
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Accountable and empowerment
  • Focus and speed
  • Collaboration and partnership
  • Humility
  • Openness and transparency
  • Purpose and strategy
  • Happy and fun

Purpose is something that is on many executive lips at the moment, and yet it only featured 15% of the time. It was boosted when mentioned in the same breath as valuing progressive innovation and having a growth mindset.

Premier League

Out front, six distinct value categories appear. The Kaizen values of curiosity and proactivity feature heavily. Curiosity is defined in this research as going beyond the brief, being tenacious, resourceful and applying individual thinking. There are links here with proactivity, but this field is distinct in that it makes clear to customers the promise that the brand will always be one step ahead.

Passion is a common value we see used by brands. In this context passion was described as belief and motivation. It described a relentless drive and energy that it expected from employees. And this dovetails nicely into the value of effectiveness, impact, achievement and results, in particular the idea of the win/win and mutual benefit.

That win/win mutuality leads us into our next values set – fairness and honesty, which includes integrity and impartiality. This is the idea that a brand treats everyone equally and will do the right thing. This should not be confused with respect which is about admiration and holding one another in high regard. This fairness value is about a mutual value exchange.

And lastly, we have people centricity and care, a values category that includes ideas of design-led thinking and of true empathy for user experience. This captures the idea that a brand puts people – not just customers – first. It suggests an understanding of a brand appreciating a person’s existence beyond being just a customer. It is about understanding their lives.

  • Curiosity and tenacity
  • Proactivity
  • Passion and energy
  • Action and results oriented
  • Fairness and honesty
  • People centricity and care

With any league there are runaway leaders, and while the above values gave the following Top 3 a run for their money, it is Customer, Quality and Team that led the pack.

  • Quality and expertise
  • Client/customer intimacy and delight
  • Teamwork and connectedness

These three values probably speak for themselves, but let’s give them a little more definition from what we have read. Quality and expertise is about being smart and specialist. It is about having a perceived unrivalled experience and being prepared to invest in that expertise, recruiting on the very best talent. It is also about detail and having pride in work produced. As one brand put it, it is about being ‘10x better’ than the competition.

Client and customer focus covered personalisation, showing a willingness to understand and get close to a customer in order to second guess their requirements, to respond quickly and to delight them. This is more than proactivity, this is about a warmth, friendship and genuine care for customers.

And finally, comes ‘Team’ – which is apt for us as an agency – unity and connectedness are key themes here, but above that sits an understanding of one another and an ability to pull together and appreciate the unique skills that each person brings. This goes way beyond collaboration and partnership and is about being one tight knit family of people committed to delivering great work.

What’s right for you? 

This is a shopping list. Picking the right values is dependent on your purpose and the path you wish to pursue. It is about creating values that will attract the right talent and get that talent performing to the highest standards. And, ultimately, these are not words that just go on the wall. They come to life at every customer and employee touchpoint.

Picking the right values is dependent on your purpose and the path you wish to pursue. It is about creating values that will attract the right talent and get that talent performing to the highest standards.

We’ve been privileged to do work like this for BPNatWest GroupM&S and others in the past. Values are something we value. Our own are Explore, Care and Together and we try to live them in everything we do.

Want to find out more about this work or the work we do? Drop us a line at hello@theteam.co.uk and we’ll get back to you.

You might also like: