Find your voice and get your story straight

Enacted values

If you can't remember your values, they are not your values (Declared values versus enacted values)
Are your declared values the same as your enacted values?

One day I’ll ask a new b2b or service brand client what their brand values are and they’ll be able to tell me. A typical discovery conversation goes something like this:

“Do you have brand or company values?”
“Oh yes.”
“Can you tell me what they are?”
“I was afraid you were going to ask me that. They’re in our business plan and on the website somewhere. We sometimes refer to them in appraisals. Maybe one of them is Empathy?”

It’s not unusual to find that a new client has a list of five or six values. It’s very unusual to find someone who can spontaneously recall more than two of them.

Values are things that are valued. Every company has them. Every company behaves according to its values, according to what matters to its leadership. These are its enacted values. Everyone in the company knows what these values are because they are subject to them, and they live by them, every day. 

Too often, however, these real, enacted values are different to the declared values that appear in the business plan and “on the website somewhere.” In other words the declared values are inauthentic, which is why no one inside the company bothers with them. They were a meaningless tick-box exercise that was quickly forgotten.

Inside the company this situation is dispiriting, if not frustrating. Outside the company it’s a huge missed trick. B2b and service businesses are about customer relationships. And the strongest relationships are based on shared values. If you have good customer relationships there must be something special about the way you do business, and it’s more than likely that the way you do business is a function of your (real, enacted) values.

Maybe if you worked out and published what your real, enacted values are, you would make your business attractive to more like-minded customers.

Having been through brand development sessions in the past, we needed some convincing to do this again to be honest. But Phil came highly recommended and the first meeting convinced me that this time around it would be different.

FOUNDER & CEO – Advisory business in the telecommunications sector

Relationships are not half-hearted, but inauthentic declared values are. B2b and service businesses need to do better than going through the motions with a list of usual-suspect brand values. Integrity, innovation, passion and so on are important traits, but they’re also undistinguished hygiene factors that all businesses should have. They’re not the special sauce, the unique set of enacted values that keep your customers coming back for more.

If you’d like some help to close the gap between your declared and enacted values, drop me a line by email.

You might also find this interesting. How to avoid going through the motions with halfhearted brand values. Illustrated by doing the exercise for myself – My values, three ways.