We’ve all been there, spending months with a marketing consultant to create a bold brand mission and accompanying values for our company. We’ve sat around boardroom tables nitpicking semantics, narrowing down the ethos of our stores and our culture into a bite-size statement that would show our customers exactly who we are.
Those conversations are tedious, but they’re necessary for defining your brand. When all of that hard work comes to fruition, and you can finally articulate what you do and what you’re all about, you gain a sense of confidence and clarity that you didn’t have before.
And…then what? While it’s important for companies to go through these exercises, the results often don’t extend past top-level executives. Perhaps you’ve created a bit of collateral, maybe an in-store poster or two, but what have you done to ensure that your customers don’t just know about your brand values, but that they feel and experience them when they’re in your store?
In this post, we’ll outline why brand values matter to your customers, and give you a few strategies for incorporating those values into your employees’ everyday routines so that your customers feel connected to your brand.
Why Brand Values Matter in Retail
Your marketing consultant was right when she told you that your customers would care about your brand mission and values. Those words that define your brand’s perspective deserve to be incorporated into your operations, both because they will help you create a cohesive company culture and because your customers are more likely to become loyal to you if they are aligned with your brand values.
Let’s start with the first one: a cohesive company culture. Clear brand values allow your employees to rally around common goals and ideals, which puts purpose behind their daily tasks. If you’re a multi-store owner, consistent brand values can also act as the glue that binds your stores together, creating an atmosphere that feels familiar to customers who may stop at any one of your locations.
Next: customer loyalty. Research has shown that customers are more aware of your brand values than you think, particularly when they align or conflict with popular social issues. 52% of consumers surveyed said that a key influence on their brand loyalty is knowing that retailers are acting sustainably, especially when it comes to grocery (56%), according to Oracle. Furthermore, 70% of millennials would buy less from a brand they’re loyal to if they found out that the brand doesn’t pay their employees well, and 69% would buy less if they learned that the brand relies on unethical labor practices. By ingraining your perspective into your brand values, and making your values a part of your store experience, you’ll create customers who aren’t just loyal to you because of your products, but because of who you are and what you stand for. That connection is far stronger than one that is predicated on product or price.
How to Incorporate Brand Values into Employees’ Daily Routines
When you incorporate your brand values into your employees’ daily routines, you ensure that they don’t go unnoticed. Here are just a few ways to make sure that your values are a part of every customer’s experience with your staff.
Start with training
Your employees won’t start thinking about your brand values on their own. You need to provide them with dedicated, relevant training in order to ingrain those values into their routines. During these trainings, give employees the backstory of each value. Why did you choose a specific word or phrase? Is there an anecdote that connects the value to your brand? Go into detail about why each value is integral to your company’s history and its culture. If you want to go even deeper, present a few of the stats that we mentioned above in order to tie in the importance of visible brand values to your customers. All of this information adds up to effective training on why your employees should know and emulate the brand’s values.
Tie every task back to a brand value
Now that you have your employees on board with your mission and values on a broad scale, it’s time to get specific. Work through each employee’s daily tasks. Whether they’re in charge of sweeping, merchandising, working at the cash wrap, conducting inventory, or completing repairs, their work is visible to customers. That’s why even the most minor responsibilities must tie back to a brand value.
During your training, provide real-world examples of how brand values can come to life through each employee’s responsibilities. For example, if one of your brand values is “consistency”, you can walk through a scenario involving merchandising and operations checklists, and indicate how critical it is that these routines are followed down to the letter. When customers know your company is focused on consistency, they expect to have a sense of familiarity when they enter your stores. When your employees understand how your values tie into those daily routines, and how they affect customers in turn, they’ll be more likely to take pride in doing great work.
Include brand values in your store audits
You’ll hopefully notice a change in your staff and your stores after you’ve completed your employee training. The best way to evaluate that change is by conducting a store audit. Use your task management software to complete your audit as you normally do, but bring a new perspective to your routine. This process is no longer just about checking off a box. Audits can serve as an opportunity to provide accountability to your employees for how well they’re upholding brand standards. Issues like incorrect merchandising and ill-repaired equipment can go against your values – make this a part of your feedback so that employees understand that you take your company’s brand values and mission seriously.
Celebrate employees who exemplify brand values
Your employees have been trained and given feedback on their work in holding up your brand values. Now it’s time to celebrate!
Through regular store audits and manager reviews, you’ll have a great understanding of which employees are going above and beyond to showcase your brand values to your customers. If you want to add gamification into the mix, ask employees to nominate their colleagues for monthly or quarterly awards that recognize the best in your business. Make it a point to give these employees props publicly and company-wide, so that you’re not only validating your values internally, but in front of your customers as well.
Incorporating your brand values into your employees daily routines is an impactful way to utilize the marketing messaging that you’ve worked so hard to create. Your brand is important to you and to your customers. In fact, it’s the way that your mission and values come to life in a retail experience. Use your unique perspective to help your staff bring your brand values to life, and customers will reward you with their loyalty.