Why We’re Updating Our Company’s Core Values

by Meghan Kelly

May 29, 2024

Posted in Culture

Formada Founders Meghan Kelly and Garrett Jackson established key Core Values for their company.

Our Business Is Changing. Our Values Have Changed, Too. 

Historically, we haven’t shied away from discussing things like company missions, visions, and values. We’ve long believed that having a clear mission statement, a vision for the future, and core values we all can abide by only makes us stronger. 

I think they make other organizations stronger, too, and I think that the clearer our clients are with these concepts, the better we can serve their marketing needs. If we know why you exist, where you’re headed, and what guides your decision making, then we can go even further in personalizing your campaigns and supporting your goals.

As I’ve said many times over, it’s not just having these statements in place that matters, it’s actually using them in the business that can have an impact on your results. 

For us, this means that we have regular brand strategy meetings with a small core team, where we’re discussing our opportunity pipeline, current and future campaigns, and yes, the state of our mission, vision, and values.

One of our more recent conversations led us to realize that our style guide needs work. While our guide contains the critical information needed to define our visual style, it lacks information pertaining to how we use language. We have copywriting principles, but they aren’t documented — which, let’s be honest, kinda means we don’t have copywriting principles. 

As we dug deeper into documenting our copywriting principles, an important question emerged:

Are our company values still relevant?

Formada’s Core Values: The Three Mandates

Once upon a time, when Formada was founded — 2018, to be exact — we created our set of core values. We called them “The Three Mandates.”    

They are, in no particular order, Transparency, Simplicity, and Autonomy. 

Why Transparency? 

Because we believe that open, honest communication leads to better outcomes. 

When Garrett and I are honest with each other about our concerns, our insights, and our perspectives, we make better decisions as business partners. We always know where the other person stands. And while maybe that leads to some uncomfortable conversations from time to time, we’ve built an immense amount of trust. 

We do our best to be equally as transparent with our team members. We’re clear in our expectations. We address concerns regarding performance. And we make it very clear transparency is a two-way street. 

We encourage “managing up,” healthy debate, and letting us know as soon as possible if their workloads are becoming difficult to handle. We’re leaders, but we know that doesn’t mean we have all of the answers. 

Transparency with clients is also a must. We’re an agency dedicated to creating growth for our clients, and we can’t credibly accomplish that if open, honest communication doesn’t exist between us. 

If we make a mistake, we own it and offer solutions. If we believe a client could benefit from one tactic over another, even if it’s not quite as profitable for us in the short term, then we make the recommendation that’s best for their business. That’s what our clients deserve. 

Transparency is still a totally valid and relevant value that we abide by in our daily decision making, so we’ll continue to run our thinking through the “transparency filter” until it no longer makes sense for us. 

Why Simplicity?

To be clear: Delivering great marketing strategies, those that produce incredible results, isn’t exactly easy, but we do believe that there are simpler ways to tackle tough problems. It’s very easy to overcomplicate things, and that’s what people generally do. In fact it’s often harder to make things simple, but we know that it’s worth the extra effort. 

In terms of our internal operations, we’re constantly looking for ways in which we can improve and simplify things so that our team has more time and space to do their best work. 

This means that we have a very clear process for every project we tackle and every service that we provide. We seek out software and technology solutions, create customizable templates, and, as mentioned, periodically update our style guidelines so that we can avoid redundancy and increase personalization. 

When it comes to how we keep things simple for our clients, it tends to boil down to communication. 

Are we speaking in marketing jargon? If yes, then we need to simplify our communication. 

Are we asking them to focus on esoteric metrics? If so, then we should be directing their attention to the data points that really matter to their business. 

It’s not just verbal communication, though. Each month, we share reports with our clients, showcasing the performance of their campaigns, but we try to do so in the most helpful way that we can — simple, digestible, actionable information. 

But we’re not just providing results. We’re providing usable context. Recommendations for how we can build upon or improve performance. In the simplest possible terms. We’re not trying to dazzle them with marketing speak. We want our clients to be dazzled by their actual results. 

Simplicity isn’t likely to fall away as one of our core values. Keeping things simple is honestly one of the biggest challenges we’re facing as we grow, but we’re confident that it will continue to be one of the most important things we can do to create growth for our clients. 

Why Autonomy?  

When we were a lean, bootstrapped startup several years ago, the concept of Autonomy made a lot of sense to us. 

We wanted our clients to feel empowered by the insights we were sharing with them, and to always have the latest, best possible information so that they can use that knowledge to make the best decisions. 

At the end of the day, you should own your paid search campaigns, your website, and its assets. 

Our team should feel trusted to do their best work without excessive corporate oversight. 

And while we still feel that all of the above is very much true, the concept of autonomy feels less and less like a critical core value to us than it did in the past. 

In fact, we’ve made the decision to retire autonomy as one of our core values, and replace it with a value that we feel is much more important to where we’re going as a company. 

Why “Accountability” Is Our Newest Core Value

As we were evaluating our Copywriting Principles and discussing our core values, Garrett asked the group, “Do the Three Mandates still matter?” the general consensus was that:

  • Having core values genuinely matters
  • Transparency is critical to our success
  • Simplicity is critical to our success
  • Autonomy — at least the way in which we were defining it — felt less critical
  • Our evolution over the last 6 years, and our continued growth, relied on accountability

Garrett and I are accountable to each other. We’re accountable to the team. The team is accountable to one another on shared projects. We’re all accountable to our clients. And our clients are accountable to us. 

The bottom line is, we want Formada to be ridiculously successful. Not just in terms of profit — I’m talking about the quality of our work, the wonderful clients that we continue to attract, and our ability to hire and mentor massively talented people. 

There is no success, no growth, no goal achievement without us being accountable to one another. And accountability works hand in hand with transparency and simplicity. It’s the perfect complement to our existing mandates. 

It will make us a better agency. I have no doubt that we’ll do even better work now that we have a clearer idea of who we are and what matters to us. 

Soon, I’ll share with you some of the updates we’ve made to our brand style guide, so that you can better understand our thought process, how we approach these projects, and how we can help your business improve its brand clarity and campaign performance. 

If you’re ready to learn more now, then contact me! I’d love to talk to you about your goals and how Formada can help you achieve them. Consultations are free — go ahead and contact me right away!


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