Best Practices


5 considerations for crafting the language

If you’re rewriting values for your company or starting anew, the words you choose are important. It takes a degree of creativity and writing skill to develop the right language to express the values that are unique to your culture.

While you might gather input from a wide range of people in the company, including leadership and employees, try to avoid writing as a group. You want your values to speak person to person, not committee to employee.

Let a gifted writer take that input and turn it into language employees will find relevant and easy to remember. Then you can bring that extended committee back together to approve the language or offer suggestions for small tweaks.

Here are five tips for articulating company values:


writing values

Avoid writing by committee

Committees tend to make things more complex rather than simplifying. Everyone has something they think is important to include. When writing values is up to a committee, the result is usually a lot more words than any employee would ever remember in a million years. Use the committee for input in the beginning and approval at the end, not for the writing itself.

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If it needs a comma, it’s too long

One sure sign that values were written by committee is that they’re composed of several clauses strung together. If it’s long enough that it needs a comma, rethink the language. Look for one strong stand-alone statement that employees can use for guidance in a range of situations. You don’t need to explain every possible scenario in which the value might apply.

writing employee values

Let’s assume honesty is a given

Values like honesty, integrity and respect don’t set your culture apart from any other. Hopefully you can assume employees know that basic decency is just table stakes. Focus on writing values that are unique to your company. Are your people especially good at solving customer problems? Is there a strong bias towards action? Is there a passion for coming up with the next big thing?

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Speak in the brand voice

Your values are some of the most important words you’ll communicate about your brand, so make sure you express them in language that matches your brand personality. If you’re describing the value of Innovation, for example, the language will probably be very different if you work at Tesla than if you’re at Wells Fargo. And keep your brand voice speaking peer to peer, rather than talking down to employees.

creating brand values

Give your nouns a verb

Your list of values probably includes a handful of nouns, like Passion or Adaptability or Collaboration. But nouns don’t help employees know how to use the value. For instance, if you say that one of your values is Transparency, maybe it’s more helpful if you describe it as Be transparent. Or even Communicate honestly or Tell it like it is.

How can we help?

Tribe does internal communications – and that’s all we do. We’re a full-service shop, from audits and strategy to creative and production.

Steve Baskin
President and Chief Strategy Officer
Office: (404) 256-5858
Mobile: (404) 663-7910
[email protected]