So you’ve been doing this small business thing for a while now. You’ve got the logo, some employees and the business is streaming in… but forming a company identity is still sitting at the bottom of your pile of to do’s.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Creating a company identity can seem overwhelming – as it involves knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what you stand for. But the effort is important because these values and purposes, in turn, will orientate every decision your employees make.
Why is a company identity important?
Your vision, mission, and values aren’t simply words on your website. They must be enshrined in your company’s practices. If a business professes, ‘people are our greatest asset’, it should also be ready to invest in those people — in visible ways. Values should be reinforced in review criteria and promotion policies – and fully lived and incorporated into the operating principles of daily life in your business.
If you express your values, vision, and mission through giving back, even better! Employees want to know that they are doing something more than just making you and your business money. Identify a charity or a cause that your company supports – not just so you can say you give to charity – choose one that is deeply aligned with your values, vision, and mission.
At Employee Matters, we support B1G1 – a membership program designed for small and medium-sized business to give effect to charities around the world. We make donations from every product we sell. B1G1 focuses on the impact of giving on people’s lives rather than simply amounts donated.
There are four simple steps to get you started.
Step 1: Create your vision statement
Your vision statement creates a long-term destination for your business – how do you want to be remembered? It declares the purpose of your company and serves as the standard against which employees, clients, and suppliers weigh your actions and decisions. It’s about what your organisation is aiming to become.
When they are deeply authentic and prominently displayed, good vision statements can even help orient customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. This means your vision statement is a simple but fundamental element of culture.
Ford Motor Company’s vision statement is, ‘One Ford’. This is a very clear message about where they are heading.
Step 2: Develop your mission statement
Your mission statement is the framework for your vision. It explains how you will achieve that vision – your ways of working.
Ford’s mission statement is, ‘One Team, One Plan, One Goal’.
If you don’t have either a vision or a mission statement, I suggest you work with your team to develop these. The wonderful outcome is that your team will love being involved and will really embrace the vision and mission as a result.
Step 3: Consider your core values
Your core values define the attitudes and behaviours that will be required of your employees to make your vision and mission a reality.
At Employee Matters, our core values are:
- Authenticity and Integrity
- Experts in our field
- Building long-term partnerships
- Employees Matter
I often say to my team that this is the lens that we place over everything we do. This is particularly important because we have a remote team. I want to be sure that whenever they are out with clients, they are behaving in a way that is consistent with our core values.
Step 4: Develop your narrative
Every company has a unique history, a unique story. And the ability to unearth that history and craft it into a narrative is a core element of culture-creation. The elements of that narrative can be formal – like Coca-Cola, which dedicated enormous resources to celebrating its heritage and even has a World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. Or it might be informal – like those stories about how Steve Jobs’ early fascination with calligraphy shaped the aesthetically oriented culture at Apple.
Either way, narratives are more powerful when identified, shaped, and retold as a part of a firm’s ongoing culture.
The value of telling stories is in their impact. Valerie Khoo, the founder of the Australian Writers’ Centre, says, ‘They’re powerful because they package data, logic, and analysis into an easily digestible form – easy to tell, easy to remember, easy to understand and, ultimately, easy to share.’ Your business story will help your clients understand what your business is about, what you do and maybe why you do it.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and company identities aren’t either.