By: NATALIE TOPALIAN Brand Apr 23, 2020 Marketing Your Mission & Core Values During the COVID-19 Crisis This week, Event Garde and The Image Shoppe continued our five-part webinar series, Branding & Marketing Best Practices Amidst COVID-19, with a discussion on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting much more than the "tangible" components of brand—like content, social media and SEO. The impact goes well beyond these considerations as a test of a brand’s mission and core values. More specifically, our panelists Aaron Wolowiec, CEO of Event Garde, Rob McCarty, CEO of The Image Shoppe, and Karen Tracey, President/Creative Director of The Image Shoppe, dove into questions like: To what extent are you currently upholding your mission and core values? How effectively are you making marketing decisions in alignment with them? How important is it to demonstrate your mission and core values during this time? Catch the replay below or read on to get the highlights of this episode. Exploring Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) While this webinar was in no way Mission/Vision/Values (MVV) 101, we did start out by providing both the textbook definitions of each of these brand elements as well as our own interpretations. Textbook Definitions Mission: A short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is and identifying the goal of its operations Vision: A declaration of an organization’s long-term objectives, intended to guide its internal decision-making Core Values: The fundamental beliefs of an organization Our Personal Interpretations of MVV Core Values As Karen put it, MVV are the building blocks of your brand. When working through these elements with our clients at TIS, we like to build from the bottom-up, meaning we start with core values first, then go on to build vision and mission statements. Why is this? Because we consider core values to be the guidepost for everything you do. For example, our core values of being an ally to our employees, community and planet led us to pursue and receive certified B Corporation status in 2016. Aaron also commented that core values aren’t something you can just pick from a list—they have to be authentic to you. And, when it comes to decision-making, as long as you’re staying in alignment with your MVV, you’re likely making the right choice. Vision & Mission Once you have your core values established, these can help to inform your vision and mission. Your vision is where you want the organization to be in the next number of years. Because there’s a sort-of "expiration date" to it, and with unforeseen events that may come up like COVID-19, vision statements are fluid and will evolve over time. Finally, your mission statement includes all of the things that your organization will need to get to the point you want to be in the future—to fulfill your vision. Resurfacing Your MVV Regardless of what your grounding principles are (MVV), now is a great time to pull them out and remember they exist. This will serve as a helpful way to keep your WHY at the forefront during an exceptionally challenging time. However, this is not necessarily the best time to overhaul your MVV from scratch; rather, it may be a better use of your time to identify what is current, what is not and what needs to be set aside or re-evaluated at a later date. How Team TIS is Living & Marketing MVV The Image Shoppe has officially coined itself as a Brand Marketing Ally since 2016, and has done as much as we can to uphold that promise to our clients, employees and community amidst COVID-19. Here are some of the things we’re doing to live and market our MVV. Assistance for Clients As usual, we are extending our commitment as a Brand Marketing Ally to our clients by assisting them through their project needs, whether it be emergency COVID-19 communications, events, promotions or website build-outs. 8-Week Help Plan with the PPP Loan We were incredibly fortunate to receive the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, securing our employees’ salaries and other major expenses for the next 8 weeks. During this period, we’ve decided as a team to extend discounted services to select clients in need of additional support. As Rob discussed, we decided against this being a public-facing message because this is simply a reflection of our core values—not something to win Brownie points over. You, too, can find creative ways within your realm of skills and capabilities to live out your MVV. Transparency with Employees TIS partners Rob, Karen and Troy have spent a lot of time discussing how to communicate company changes to employees. Ultimately, we have decided to live out our core value of transparency and communicate all changes—major and minor—to employees (and clients, when appropriate). For us, it feels right to keep an open, honest line of communication even through hardship. Solidarity by willingness to take the hits along with the team in the trenches We also maintain this solidarity with our clients. How Team Event Garde is Living & Marketing MVV Aaron of Event Garde added in the "living" component of this section (which we loved, and adopted ourselves!) because upholding MVV is both an internal and external pursuit. Here’s what Event Garde is doing both internally and externally to uphold their MVV—which you can review on their About page. Perhaps these are tactics your organization can implement, as well! Internal Tactics Digital team retreat to strengthen relationships through team-building and reflection Netflix party because they work hard/play hard! Slack team-building: Posting daily questions/prompts to create more team connectivity Collaboration on projects One-on-one check-ins Celebrate successes... even the smallest of wins! Continuing the culture of feedback they've had in place since Day One by staying honest about the things they're doing well and areas for improvement External Tactics Note: you need to have a solid foundation built internally before move onto external tactics! Updating their ‘About’ page with relevant information in the COVID-19 world "Ask us anything": Encouraging folks to send questions and offering their knowledge, expertise and resources without the need to create a formal relationship Blog, resources & webinars: They are continuing to provide value through original and shared content Weekly newsletters including a wrap-up of what resources they have already created and others in the works Creative solutions: Helping their clients come up with, and even testing, creative solutions to connect with their audiences, e.g. virtual happy hours, webinars and more Behind-the-scenes social media content including a sneak peek inside their homes and the makings of a webinar 5-Step Consideration Plan We’d never set you free without a key takeaway! Consider this 5-step plan when deciding how to live and market your MVV, internally and externally. Have MVV statements and creatively promote to all key audiences. (Simple is better—even icons can quickly drive the point home!) Brainstorm ways you can help/add value to each audience segment given your MVV. Develop and work through an action plan. Communicate actions/outcomes regularly with key audience segments—external and/or internal. Evaluate your action plan and course correct, as needed. Register for Next Week's Episode! Don't miss our final episode next week, Strengthening Customer Relationships During the COVID-19 Crisis. Click here to register.