Values As The Way Forward For Future-Proof Businesses (Part 1: Local)
Product matters, but building a brand that is the heartbeat of a neighborhood or one admired around the world takes something more. And you won’t find it in a textbook or in an article on best practices. In part one of this two–part series, we’re going to visit a local brand.
A friend of mine had always appreciated that the coffee shop he frequented knew his face and his order, and the staff occasionally comped him a latte. During the early days of the economy re–opening, the shop had reconfigured its ordering window and pick–up stations to something resembling a high-tech medical lab. Seeing all the effort the staff put into creating a safer experience for their customers, he knew without a doubt that they cared. It vaulted the shop from just a place he likes to caffeinate to the one he loves.
You could argue that the coffee shop’s efforts to sanitize the place were an expected part of the new normal, but it wasn’t merely meeting some new standards. The staff were living the shop’s brand values and walking in their customers’ shoes.
The coffee shop’s core value of empathy informed their actions and made their efforts feel natural and authentic.
Customers at the coffee shop had become friends who often shared their interests and made small talk with baristas and counter help. Now, the employees moved beyond listening. They were feeling. They knew that there was some something going on in real life that was bigger than what the brand had promised its customers.
To many, this coffee shop was an essential business of sorts. Soon, it would become an essential business of record as it moved toward fulfilling the needs of its community, which was also a core value.
Staple grocery items like milk, coffee, eggs and bread that customers would normally purchase for use at home were now sometimes scarce and difficult to find. Making at least part of their supply available for purchase at the front counter for customers meant they could be part of the early re-opening of the economy. Doing that helped deepen the shop’s relationship with its customers, allowed it to serve the greater community and, as it turns out, sustain its business.
The sales volume would hardly support operating at grocery store margins, but the shop owners recognized that their success depended on a broader ecosystem of life and acted accordingly by putting the higher-level needs of their community over short-term profit objectives.
Empathy and community are alive and well at the coffee shop. What values are you leading with that can sustain and future–proof your businesses?
Values As The Way Forward For Future-Proof Businesses (Part 2: Global)
In part one of this two-part series, we discussed how a local coffee shop demonstrated its brand values as it shifted operations to support its customers and community during the onset of COVID-19. Perhaps you read it and were thinking, “That’s nice, but it’s one shop. We’re a statewide/regional/global brand. We could never do that.”
Sure you can, and on whatever scale you play.
We recently watched a social media campaign by a national quick–serve chain in which the brand featured facemasks imprinted with typical orders. The restaurant was affirming its values-centric mission to serve its meals in clean surroundings during this health–conscious season and maintaining the sense of humor consumers had come to associate with the brand. Values meet marketing personality for the win.
That was merely a hint of something bigger taking shape.
The company told AdWeek that “parts of our restaurants need to change … with features that are sustainable and social-distance friendly.”
Leveraging its core value of teamwork, the brand designed spaces as if it had a blank sheet of paper and no preconceived notions of how the restaurant should look. In the process, the fast food giant couldn’t merely react to a new normal; it had to adapt and create new strategies consistent with its values and based on science to propel the business forward.
Another core value – respect for employees and customers alike – meant safeguarding all by providing multiple contactless ordering and delivery modes, including conveyor belt delivery, drive-through and walk-up order areas, coded lock boxes for takeout and delivery orders, and more emphasis on exterior dining spaces.
Big changes for sure, but each consistent with its values. The brand isn’t changing who it serves only how it serves them.
Remember how empathy and community were lived at the coffee shop? So, too, are clean surroundings, respect and teamwork lived at the quick-serve restaurant. Whether big or small, brands that lead with values can sustain and future–proof their businesses.
How are your values helping you rise to today’s circumstance and pave the way toward the future?