Late last year I read a very juicy exposé published by one of my new favourite digital publications and an exciting reflection of our home grown journalism, Ensemble Magazine. If you haven't discovered their site yet, it's a very good blend of culture, fashion and beauty journalism with more meaningful diversity and substance than some of the traditional glossy mags we're used to reading.
The publication is made up of an ensemble cast of various kiwi creatives who have come out of the Covid-induced closures of their previous publications swinging. We highly recommend having a read.
We recommend reading it for yourself in all its Coronavirus-denying and conspiracy theorising glory, but in short it's the story of how a well known and much loved New Zealand label ended up in more than just a little hot water over their actions leading up to and during lockdown, stemming from the discovery that their founders are deeply rooted in some outrageous, offensive and quite frankly dangerous, conspiracy theory beliefs.
On the surface, Lonely was paving the way for many other local and even international brands when it came to diversity and inclusivity, so we thought. A quick look at their website or Instagram feed would back this up, with a never ending stream of "real" women ranging from twenty years old to women in their seventies, with a variety of different ethnicities to boot. I was a fan early on. I coveted their beautiful and equally comfortable lingerie, recognisable to many other women when worn and proudly New Zealand made.
I was a fan for more reasons than just the design however. Like other successful brands of its kind, it was the whole package of Lonely that prompted me to purchase and wear their bras over the years. I couldn't tell you what the exact list of the brand's company values are, but for a label like Lonely it was outwardly obvious that they aligned with my very own. It was clear from the portrayal of body positivity and diversity online all the way down to their warm and beautifully designed stores with their encouraging staff.
And like most conscious consumers these days, especially in this Covid-19 era, the alignment of my own personal values and those of the business I am shopping/purchasing/booking/
I thought that I liked Lonely label for many reasons, their values played a big part in that. When I discovered that after all these years that our values really did not line up anymore I sold everything from the brand that I owned. The bras were the first things to go.
Your brand values represent so much more than just a box to tick when setting up your business. They are the cultural heartbeat of your brand. Not only should they guide the decision making within your business, the type of person you employ and the day-to-day running of your company, they determine the kind of client or customer you attract and retain. We always tell our marketing strategy clients that values are useless if they do not have a behaviour associated with them. The problem with Lonely was that their behaviour all of a sudden deemed their brand values almost completely useless.
One of our Connect & Conquer values is 'simplicity'. We describe it as 'striving to uncover ways to explain things simply and clearly, without using jargon, using layman's terms and not over complicating things.'
If you asked our clients whether they think we live and breathe this value, we know they would say yes. We pride ourselves on our straightforward and simple approach to tackling marketing, creating marketing strategies that cut through the noise, or training sessions that will de-mystify even the mistiest topics.
While the re-sale of my Lonely bras is an example of a more adverse reaction to ill-fitting values, it just goes to show that it all matters. It's all well and good having a set of rock solid company values that you can instil in your employees and portray to your audience, but if at the heart of your business you aren't living and breathing them every day, you'll end up losing out on customers and clients without even realising it.
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