As your business grows so too does your need to expand services. Your sales department will need to focus on a growing client base while your advertising budget will swell in order to continually push the expansion boundaries. However, it is important to keep your vision grounded even as you experience a new level of success. Your vision helped lead you to this point.
While you should continually push to bigger and better things, it is your vision that needs to remain intact. Allowing your vision to wander away from what you started will result in any number of problems, ranging from cutting corners in order to save money to losing the face of your core business values. Letting a growing business get to your head is a recipe for disaster. To avoid these kinds of problems, you need to know how to maintain your brand and vision as you scale your business.
Define Your Corporate Values
When you started your business you likely had a handful of core values you wanted to follow. These were going to be the values that set your business apart from the competition. Perhaps you were dedicated to using only locally sourced materials, or you would only use regionally manufactured goods. Whatever these core values were each became an important pillar in the foundation of your business.
Like-minded customers saw your core brand values and came to your doorstep because they shared similar values, and as such gave you their business. All of this helped make your business different from the competition, just as you had hoped. However, as your business grows it becomes easier to move away from the values that made your brand unique.
Sometimes, this shift is so subtle you don’t even realize anything happened until years down the line, and by then it might be too late to turn back the clock. Instead, you need to clearly define your corporate values. To do this, you need to do more than just think up these values. Each needs to be clearly documented and cemented into the very fabric of the business. It can be included in the company slogan and branded onto the company website.
By telling customers of your corporate values it becomes that much more difficult to abandon it. It becomes a means of solidifying what your company will be from here on out. So the best way to maintain your brand and vision is to clearly define what the brand and vision are while making sure your employees and customers know what your values are as well.
There’s no better referee to your corporate values than your customers, and the only way you keep them happy is if you follow the core values you established when creating the business.
According to the Harvard Business School (and reported by Magic of Teams), established core values play a critical role not only in the function of business but in its long term productivity. After a four year study, companies with a focus on strong core values experienced a surge in profit performance by 750 percent. Stock prices grew 12 times faster than those without strong core values, plus the company creates jobs seven times faster while growing revenue four times faster.
Hire Employees Who Share the Company Values From the Beginning
It is easy to allow your imagination to wander as the business grows. Perhaps you see a way to push profits even higher, you just need to take a few quality shortcuts or cut a few corners. It’s against your brand values of offering the highest quality product possible, but that next level of profits is just within your grasp.
Once you start down this slippery slope it becomes easier and easier to skip steps until you’ve become a shell of your former business, with nothing more than the name resembling what you started with. In order to avoid this, you need to hire employees who share your brand vision and whose opinion you respect.
These individuals can help keep you in check and remind you what the business is all about. When you hire like-minded people at the onset they will share your vision and your passion. This way, if you start to stray in the hopes of a quick buck, they can help remind you why they signed on to work with you and what it is your business is looking to provide customers.
In the end, while there are a number of ways to maintain your brand and vision as you scale your business, the best way to do this is to surround yourself with people who have the same goals in mind.
According to the American Marketing Association, employees that share the same company values as the business are more engaged and are more motivated to help improve the productivity and output of the business they work for. Often times top workers will seek out businesses that are in line with their own personal beliefs as they find it easier to work for a company that possesses the same belief system.
Perhaps you can’t see ways to scale your business while maintaining your brand and vision. You may not be able to identify realistic ways but your employees might. By routinely bringing your trusted employees together to brainstorm ways for your company to grow (while not alienating its brand and vision) you’ll likely be surprised as to the potential outcome of these brainstorming sessions.
Keep It Consistent
One of the biggest misconceptions in the world of business is that consistency is boring. You should never confuse consistency with becoming complacent. You can maintain consistency within your business as you scale up and grow. It simply means you make sure everything the business does follows the same course of actions, the same approval process and the same means to approval as to how you went about crafting a new product or service at the onset of the business.
Take Apple, for example. Apple follows a very specific code of conduct and development process. It follows the same released schedule and focuses on improving the same basic products. The company doesn’t have its hand in a wide range of cookie jars and, because of it, the company is able to continually offer some of the best selling consumer electronic devices on the planet.
Prior to the return of Steve Jobs as CEO, Apple flailed and even faced bankruptcy. It had even allowed other manufacturers to design knock-off Macs that used the Macintosh operating system. At its lowest point, it had completely lost its way and was tossing everything it could at the wall, hoping something would stick. Steve Jobs came in, shut down all third-party “Mac” manufacturing and instead focused the company on creating innovative electronics that stood out and offered an exceptional user experience. While you might have an issue with how Apple is currently running under new leadership, there’s no denying Steve Jobs brought in a new level of consistency, and chances are you’d do anything but label Apple under Jobs as boring.
The same is true with most successful companies. Sometimes it takes a restructuring for the companies to realize consistency is often the answer to success.
In the end, customers come back to your business, not because of new integration or even company vision. According to the Harvard Business Review, product quality is the single most important element that leads to customer loyalty, with expertise and responsiveness the next to the most important aspects of your business. All three of these stem from remaining consistent with how you run your company and how the company provides for the consumer.
You need to focus on consistency with your company as well. Remaining consistent doesn’t mean you’re not elevating the business and the brand along with it. You can take an escalator up to the next floor, and while you maintained a consistent angle of transit you continually rose at the same time. Think of your business in this way. Remain consistent and don’t change how you approve products. This way, you won’t change your vision or brand, even as your company grows.
Brand Style Guide
As your company grows so too will your outreach methods. What once started out as a simple website and possibly a Facebook page has expanded out to include Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, multiple landing pages, and all kinds of other marketing material. With so many varying advertisement methods it’s easy for the brand style to get lost in the shuffle. After all, you might have one employee working on the newspaper print advertisement while another is creating the Google ads.
In order to maintain your brand and vision while the business grows it is imperative for you to maintain the same look and feel across all advertising spectrums. When you look at Nike or McDonald’s, it doesn’t matter where the advertisement appears or in what medium it is presented, you always know what the ad is for. You can even be out of the country and not understand a single word spoken on a television spot or printed on a billboard, but you’ll know what company the ad is for.
All of this is because the company has a universal brand style guide (with a small amount of regional leeway). While you may never reach the level of a Nike or McDonald’s, you can follow the same example and utilize the brand style guide.
According to Lucidpress, brands that maintain a consistent style see a 23 percent increase in revenue and are three to four times more likely to experience brand visibility over companies that do not maintain a unified style.
You need to have a clearly established brand style guide for everyone within the company to follow. This way, no matter what kind of advertisement, corporate literature or other marketing material is produced, you can make sure everyone remains on the same page with the universal style guide.
Some basic information to include (according to Small Biz Trends) within the style guide is the company name, slogan, the mission statement, logo, color scheme, typography, imagery, photo styles, and the copy guidelines.
A successful business will grow. No matter what industry or the products you sell, when customers like what you have to offer and have easy access to it they will return for future purchases, all while informing friends and family about what it is your business sells. As your business scales so to will your brand and vision. However, you need to do what you can to maintain consistency with your brand and vision. Just because both are growing does not mean you need to differ how you run the business or what the brand mission statement is.
Far too often, a business is successful all too quickly and, in the end, trips over itself because it doesn’t know how to handle its success and tries to change up what it did to bring on its level of success. By staying the course, keeping everything consistent and focusing on the quality of what you have to offer, you’ll always be able to maintain your vision, core values, and overall brand identity, no matter how big your business becomes.