One of the most important components of effective organizational culture is having core values. Core values are, according to Patrick Lencioni in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of an organization’s actions; they serve as its cultural cornerstones. Lencioni goes on to describe three types of core values: aspirational core values, permission-to-play values, and accidental values. Below is a brief description of each of these core values:
- Aspirational Values are those an organization needs to succeed but currently lacks.
- Permission-to-Play Values reflect the minimum behavioral and social standards required of an employee (think respect, honesty, and integrity).
- Accidental Values arise spontaneously without being cultivated by leadership and take hold over time (they usually reflect the shared interests and personalities of employees).
All three types of core values are integral to creating an organization that operates effectively. Internally, they're vital to hiring the right people, retaining them, holding them accountable, and disciplining them when necessary. Your employees may be the first to know your core values (or lack thereof), but they certainly aren’t the last. Consumers and clients also see your organization’s core values at work as you market to them, work for them and with them, or make headlines, for better or worse. A lack of meaningful core values shows itself in all areas of your organization, both externally and internally.
What You Create Shows Who You Are
If your organization lacks clarity around its core values, the first step to getting them back on track is to identify the ones you wish to keep, eliminate the ones you don’t, and develop new ones to guide you where you want to go. To do this, your leadership team will need to take stock of the values that currently serve as the cornerstone of your organization. What drives your employees and goals?
A helpful place to begin looking for accidental values is your marketing content. Your creators are always striving to create content that fits your brand, and their work reflects how they feel about your organization. What does your content say about who you are? What themes are present in your designs? Review your most recent marketing campaigns and determine whether they are just gimmicks to drive growth or are what people in the organization really believe.
Today’s marketplace is driven by authenticity. A 2020 study by Stackla found that 90% of consumers said that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. They also found that while 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create is authentic, 51% of consumers say that less than half of brands create content they perceive as authentic. The days of a successful marketing campaign being made up of a catchy tagline and a funny ad are over. Consumers want to know who you are and what you believe before they support you. Developing core values and letting them be the basis of your content is how you can achieve that.
Maintaining and Sharing Core Values
Once your leadership team has determined the aspirational, permission-to-play, and accidental core values of your organization, it’s time to communicate them. The first step is sharing them internally and building buy-in. Lencioni goes into more detail on the best way to do this in his HBR article, as well as his book, The Advantage. We're more focused on the next step which, per Lencioni, is to make core values the cornerstone of your organization by “weav[ing] them into everything.”
This includes your organization’s content and marketing strategy. Once you’ve developed and created authentic campaigns and content that reflect your brand’s core values, you’ll need to maintain that brand with consumers. Once authenticity begins to be recognized, it's easier to spot inauthenticity. Imagine a company like Subaru, whose entire brand is built around the safety of their vehicles, coming out with a marketing tagline like “Live Recklessly.” It would instantly throw red flags up in your perception of the brand.
How DAM Maintains Authenticity
Digital asset management (DAM) processes and programs can help your brand with its authenticity efforts in two ways. First and foremost, they allow your team to more effectively create content that reflects your organization’s core values. When all your content is in one place where your creative team can easily access and search for it, they can quickly leverage past creative digital assets to create new, on-brand content. Using metadata, organized file names, and a clear folder structure, they can quickly search for specific types of files that reflect your brand’s mission.
For example, suppose one of your organization’s aspirational values is “inclusivity” and your marketing team has developed campaigns and strategies around this core value. Using a DAM system and program, your creative team can quickly pull together assets of different kinds of people across race, ethnicity, gender, and abilities to be included in the campaign. This way, the words that make up your campaign are backed up by your content, making it authentic and effective.
How DAM Avoids Inauthenticity
The other way DAM can help your brand is by ensuring that off-brand content, those assets not aligned with your core values, don’t somehow make their way in front of consumers. When assets are decentralized, stored on hard drives, servers, or personal computers, there's no telling what unapproved asset could inadvertently be used for a campaign. DAM platforms have robust permissions abilities so your team can track what gets approved, where it goes, and who has access to it.
This is particularly important for licensed content or assets with strict copyright permissions to manage. The last thing you want consumers reading about is legal trouble your organization has found itself in because copyright rules weren’t followed or known. The metadata attached to every asset allows your team to easily understand and manage when it can be used and in what ways.
If your team has recently created core values or is just getting started in the process, now is a great time to begin your journey into DAM. Just like developing core values, building an effective DAM program requires time, planning, and buy-in across the organization, and affects most of your core processes. If you need assistance, Stacks can help! Just like Patrick Lencioni can provide guidance with your core values efforts, we have a team of experienced professionals who have seen it all. Contact us if you have any questions or aren’t sure where to start. We love making DAM easy so you can get back to doing what you love.