How Values Bring Strategy to Life: 4 Takeaways from Launching D+I Month at Toyota

Company values are so much more than slogans on a wall. As leaders and strategists know, values are the life force that power a company. They guide the organization’s every decision, and they electrify and inspire people to bring the mission and strategy to life.

This July, we partnered with Toyota Motor North America to brand and launch their first-ever company-wide celebration of Diversity and Inclusion (D+I). We worked closely with the mobility company to develop a strategy and approach designed to communicate the value of inclusive thinking to the company’s over 35,000 team members.

While the celebration only lasted four weeks, the collaboration that saw it to life was many months in the making. It culminated in a powerful D+I Month that we felt honored to be a part of.

For those of you looking to launch comparable values-based initiatives, here are some key takeaways. 


1 |  A smart strategy is good. One with buy-in is even better.

Getting company-wide buy-in early and often is essential. We worked hand-in-hand with Toyota’s D+I communications lead, Jennifer Parr, to develop a strategy that aligned with other company initiatives and socialize it at every level of the organization. With every round of team member feedback, we ensured that not only was Toyota’s voice and intention coming through, but that we were in lockstep with leadership’s broader vision.

“When planning the celebration, we needed to be as inclusive as possible,” said Parr. “Blue Daring helped us make D+I Month our own.”

Additionally, we aligned both the timing and content of D+I Month with the release of Toyota’s own diversity and inclusion annual report, to create further traction and energy.

2 |  Whatever you do, don’t forget what you do.

Any values-based initiative should show, with crystal clarity, how a company’s values tie back to its business objectives.

Toyota isn’t just an automobile company. It’s a mobility company, meaning it helps people move. As populations and mobility needs become increasingly diverse, Toyota understands that an inclusive mindset is key to unlocking the innovation and problem-solving that will help more people move, today and in the future.

Every communication for D+I Month was designed to connect the value of diversity to Toyota’s purpose and strategy. The central message: diversity and inclusion helps us think differently and work better together. By embracing diverse perspectives, we will help more people move.

3 |  Communicating values isn’t just about screensavers and t-shirts.

A values campaign is an opportunity to drive larger organizational change. During D+I Month, Toyota not only made its team members aware of the central message—it asked them to engage with it, too.

Under the theme of “I drive D+I”, we invited company leaders to voice their D+I commitments on video and compiled a reel that was sent out across the continent. We also challenged them to have team conversations on how they will incorporate the month’s learnings as they move forward. These activities helped Toyota better internalize the inclusive thinking and exercise their ability to work better together—the campaign message, come to life.

To cap the month, Toyota held a panel event featuring executives discussing D+I’s role in the future of their business. The panel was live streamed at 16 sites and viewed by thousands, as well as documented on social media, bringing D+I Month to life across all channels.

4 Celebrations end, but their impact shouldn’t.

You know how much planning goes into a campaign, even one that only lasts a month. You want your efforts to outlive the campaign—especially when there’s larger transformation at stake.

We wanted to make sure Toyota’s people leaders had a takeaway to help them sustain inclusive behaviors well beyond July. Together we hatched the Going places together card deck—a custom-designed set of 75 tips, reflections and activities given to 1,500 leaders to use on a regular basis with their teams.

We also wanted Toyota to have a lasting D+I brand treatment for use in July and beyond. With an array of bright, multicolored fractals, we created a campaign design that aligned with Toyota’s existing brand identity while also standing on its own. The result was a sustainable and flexible brand platform that the company could leverage in the future.

Engage as many voices as possible. Connect values to strategy. Don’t just inform—inspire action. Create campaigns that last. Taking these steps will activate your team’s passion and bring your strategy to life.

What have you learned from leading values-based campaigns or initiatives? Leave a comment below or tweet @BlueDaring.

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