3 insights from Virgin, Apple and Google

I laugh when I read an organisation’s values on their website. Why would you tell people what your values are and why would they believe you?

I would argue that they will rarely believe you viewing the words as nothing more than puff and window dressing.

I would argue that values are communicated through behaviour not words. An organisation’s values are best communicated through the behaviour of its staff, the nature of the service offering, the qualities of the products on offer and the manner in which products and services are made available.

I would further argue that articulating values to internal or external audiences is of limited if any value. The value in values comes when the people in the business embrace them and see them as critical. The real value comes when all staff LIVE the values all day, each and every day, in everything they do.

This lies at the heart of effective branding.

This requires:

  • Framing values in consultation with staff.
  • Justifying values in terms of the organisations vision.
  • Ensuring all staff understand and embrace the values.

Ensuring staff understand and embrace the values involves:

  • Employing the right people.
  • Training the right people.
  • Demonstrating results to people.

These factors are addressed well by all of the world’s great brands including:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Virgin

At the heart of every great brand is a strong and appropriate culture. At the heart of a strong and appropriate culture is a sense of shared values, with:

  • Everyone knowing the values and the vision they serve.
  • Everyone understanding the manifestations of those values.
  • Everyone is held accountable in terms of their behaviour.

In a recent talk, strategist Simon Sinek noted that businesses get into trouble when there is not a common understanding of the vision and values, and when there is a divergence between these and the commercial objectives of the organisation.

Research suggests that he is absolutely right.


  1. Shared values are critical to effective branding.
  2. Shared values require a link between values and vision – and – the commercial objectives.
  3. Sharing values involves much more than talk. It requires engagement.

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