It’s one thing to profess your values. It’s quite another to live them out. You know that old expression “Actions speak louder than words”? Well, it’s absolutely true. The process of living out your values in your personal life defines your character, often measured by what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Living out your values in the boardroom defines your company’s culture. Applying the same measurement tool, what do you suppose your customers say about the culture of your brand when you’re not in the room? How about your employees?

When fully engaged, your corporate culture acts as the ‘protective covering’ that sets expectations of behavior and governs the ‘living out of the values’ that drive the purpose behind your organization. In today’s overly commoditized business environment, your belief system, or your brand’s values, represents the only true differentiator in the current ‘sea of sameness.’

Just as every individual has a unique character, each organization has a unique culture. Some corporate cultures empower and inspire while others dictate and debilitate. Then there are those organizations that fall somewhere in between—lukewarm and lacking vision. In my travels I’ve seen them all, and I can tell you with certainty that the common denominator of sustained success from brand to brand is the courage to profess and live out a guiding set of values that create purpose within an organization and earn loyalty from customers who experience a brand that walks the walk and talks the talk.

Does your company have a set of values that guides behavior and inspires purpose? Would you say that your company is living out its values? If you can answer unequivocally yes, then your company is well on its way to sustained loyalty and financial success. If your answer is no or ‘I don’t know,’ then it’s time to consider pursuing the role of ‘values change agent’ in your organization. If you’re in a leadership role, then initiate a values exploration. Shift the discussion from product development to values development. Then examine and tear down any organizational barriers that prevent your brand from living out its values. Your employees will thank you, your customers will notice the difference, and all of your business relationships will strengthen in the process.