By Sonia Greteman, president and creative director at Greteman Group, a marketing communications agency based in Wichita, the Air Capital.

Brands need to evolve just like the organizations and companies they represent. Maybe your services have changed or you have new leadership. Maybe you need to move into new markets and connect with different audiences.

A first step is to take a good hard look at your company vision, mission and values. And, if necessary, develop new ones. I have peers whose eyes glaze over at the thought. Or even when faced with giving them a needed review. I’m the opposite. My eyes dance. I see this as an opportunity. To discover, create and, if necessary, evolve.

One of the Most-Liked and Respected Brands: Southwest

Just to ensure we’re on the same page with these terms, here’s what I mean when talking about vision, mission and values. Southwest Airlines offers great examples of each.

  • Vision – The why. Describes a desired future state that motivates and inspires your team. It’s rooted in today, but focuses on tomorrow. Use simple, short words that people can remember.
    • Southwest Airlines: To become the world’s most loved, most flown and most profitable airline.
  • Mission – The how. Sets forth a clear, compelling goal that is tangible and achievable. It focuses your team’s efforts. It holds you accountable for delivering a consistent customer experience.
    • Southwest Airlines: Dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit.
  • Values – Define your culture and are revealed through time and experience. These guiding principles serve as a basis for actions to fulfill your mission and advance toward your vision. Less is more; strive for a set of three to seven.
    • Southwest Airlines: Live the Southwest Way
      • Warrior Spirit
      • Servant’s Heart
      • Fun-LUVing Attitude
    • Work the Southwest Way
      • Safety and Reliability
      • Friendly Customer Service
      • Low Costs

Things Change, So Should You

things-change-graphicOur agency’s been in business for close to 30 years. In that time, we evolved through many messaging iterations. Brands should typically be refreshed every five to seven years. Most recently, we based our efforts on Gino Wickman’s Traction system. This highly practical approach breaks down any business to six key components: vision, people, data, issues, process and execution. Vision rightfully serves as the starting place. Wickman likens it to getting your team all rowing – and in the same direction.

To develop your vision, Wickman walks you through some commonsense questions. These force you to really look at your core values, focus, long-term and short-term goals, marketing strategy, issues and quarterly action items (which Wickman, borrowing from Stephen Covey, calls Rocks). This simple, focused process can lead to deep discussions and profound results.

You whittle down and funnel input as part of a purposeful journey. You do less meandering and arrive at your destination faster. Our five-member, agency Traction team did this in two dedicated, full-day sessions. You can download a free worksheet here and do the same yourself.

Value Your Values

value-your-values-graphicOne of our most enlightening exercises was in developing our values. Traction again led us through a series of paring down attributes. We started by listing three team members we think could best lead us to market domination. (Aim high, right?) Then we listed the qualities of those people. The list was long. We then edited those down. Combining similar traits. Circling the absolute, most-needed characteristics. We ended with less than seven. We then put them aside. A Traction member did some slight wordsmithing, then the full team reviewed the values a final time to ensure they rang true. They did.

Putting It All Together

Once developed, we take the vision, mission, values and wrap them up into a cohesive manifesto. Here’s ours.

The Greteman Group Manifesto

greteman-group-manifesto-graphicGive us a challenge. You don’t have to tell us what to do or how to do it. Our band of highly motivated, self-directed pros goes after it. We work independently and collaboratively, passionately and fearlessly, wrestling with ideas until we pin down the best.

We like to succeed, and often do, but how we get there matters. Grace and integrity walk our halls. Transparency generates open and honest conversations.

Each of us brings unique skills that, when combined, make us a powerhouse. Our lifelong learners find joy in their work. When you hear, “I work at Greteman Group,” it packs a punch. You know that person:

Listens loudly
Has your back
Takes no shortcuts
Shows grit and gusto
Imagines better ways
Gets results

Together, we help brands fly high.

Do the Time

Think about whether it’s time to dust off your vision, mission and values. They should uniquely represent your company, not just serve as generic platitudes like “excellent customer service.” Whether you use Traction as we did, just be sure you ask the right questions and that you carve out dedicated think and collaboration time. Set your expectations. Be disciplined. And remember. These messages are not something you simply write down and file. You live them. And they guide your path. You use them as a basis for hiring new team members, setting goals, evaluating performance and more. We used ours to shape a dynamic, new website for ourselves. Check it out to see whether you think we succeeded in following our own advice.

This column ran in the September 21 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.