Walk the Walk: Using Values To Lead an Industry

There’s a bank in Texas that unapologetically uses its brand values to lead its industry. “Few banks have performed as well for as long as Frost, which consistently ranks among the industry’s leaders in all key measures,” American Banker said. By June 30, 2015 Frost had a 1.24% return on assets, compared to the industry average of 0.86%, and a 10.32% return on equity, compared to 7.65% for the rest of the industry.”

The bank’s CEO told American Banker he credited Frost’s success to a 15-page handbook. “What we call the Blue Book, or our philosophy, is really the answer,” said Richard Evans, “and it’s a way to guide us as we go forward.”

Evans often quotes from the Blue Book when speaking to employees and officers of the company. “People can have good philosophies and good culture, but the real trick is living it every day,” says Evans. “That’s what we try to do. We’re far from perfect, and we never will be perfect.”

Banks like Frost are teaching us that marketing is not a job that is exclusive to the marketing department anymore. Your brand will not only be evaluated by what you say, but what you do. This means marketing is the responsibility of the C-suite. It’s about how we organize the behaviors of hundreds of employees to act in a consistent and authentic way.

Now that the Participation Workforce makes stories and tells your brand story for you, it’s important to give them values parameters for these stories. That’s why brand values must be written down, administered and held accountable throughout the organization. Each employee should be scored against these brand values in every review that routs its way through human resources.

Employee alignment is hard work, but it’s critical. For leaders, it’s about consistency and authenticity of a brand promise. If each individual employee is guided by his or her own personal compass, disregarding the company’s “true north,” the organization looks schizophrenic. It only takes one public comment by one employee to undermine the brand values of the organization. In contrast, if the values are consistent through each consumer experience, that builds trust.

– Excerpt from: Surfing The Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age