Brand Values: What are they and why are they important?

May 28, 2021
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So far we’ve considered the power of branding, and tone of voice. It’s high time we shone the spotlight on the headliners that are the “Brand Values”:

64% of consumers say that sharing the same values with a brand is the primary reason they have a relationship in the first place​

Harvard Business Review

A crucial business tool that must be carefully considered, Brand Values are not just marketing ‘fluff’, but an essential base ingredient in the recipe you need to master in order to make your brand stand out, deliver an impact and build a loyal following.

Think of a brand and you’ll often think of logos, fonts, colours or straplines. Few consider the actual core of the brand. While tone of voice communicates a brand’s personality, the Brand Values are the foundation around which the entire brand is built.  Together with your company’s mission statement, they are the guiding principles that shape every aspect of how you build and manage your business.  Your brand’s values are at the heart of what your company is and does, and your brand messages, identity and personality are all devised from these.

From your customer’s viewpoint, a brand value is a sought-after standard or quality that embodies your brand, wherever it’s communicated. These qualities should resonate positively with the target customer, and help to emphasise the human ‘face’ of your business, how it inspires and motivates. They provide a more memorable, consistent and meaningful experience with your brand, which leads to greater success, repeat custom and brand loyalty. They summarise what your brand stands for, how it behaves, and how your brand is different to everyone else out there in the market.

“How do I create my Brand Values?” I hear you cry!

There are four key pillars to follow when creating these for your business:

  • Be unique to your brand. They need to dovetail with your brand mission, and not simply replicate other brands or competitors. They should be distinct, and true to how you want to showcase the brand.
  • Be relevant to your brand. These values have to have gravitas with everyone involved – values you can believe in, stand for, and won’t need to be tweaked over time(a big no-no that). Values held today should be just as relevant to the brand in 10 months’ or years’ time.
  • Be easy to recall. To remember and consistently implement the values, they must be easily remembered. Name the value, and support it with an easily actionable value.
  • Be easy to action. If delivered in clear, actionable bite-sized bullets, they can be read, understood, remembered and followed consistently.

Easy to summarise, not so easy to create, but it’s something you really DO need to action. It can help to look at other companies to see what they consider values. But remember, you cannot expect a massive conglomerate like Amazon to share the same values as a local startup company!

Now, I have a few examples from the ’real’ world for you to ponder. All are (intentionally) very different – but you able to see the brand authenticity highlighted through each value.   

  • Be Natural – Not just our products, but being natural in how we treat each other and how we speak to the most important people – our drinkers.
  • Be Entrepreneurial – innocent began as a small, entrepreneurial company, and nothing much has changed. We aren’t afraid to do things differently, and we’ve never given up on a good opportunity.
  • Be Responsible – We keep our promises, are mindful of our impact on our community and our environment, and always try to leave things a little bit better than we found them.
  • Be Commercial – We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t keep our eyes on the numbers at all times. Ultimately we want to deliver growth for us and our customers too.
  • Be Generous – This means giving honest feedback to one another, taking time to say thank you, and where we can, donating our resources or money to those who need it more than us. It’s that simple.
  • We sell the highest quality natural and organic foods.
  • We satisfy and delight our customers.
  • We promote team member growth and happiness.
  • We practice win-win partnerships with our suppliers.
  • We create profits and prosperity.
  • We care about our community and the environment.
  • Performance: Sport is the foundation for what we do.
  • Passion: We are always moving forward.
  • Integrity: People trust us because we are honest and ethical.
  • Diversity: It takes people with different backgrounds to make our company succeed.
  • Leadership: Courage to shape a better future.
  • Collaboration: Leverage collective genius.
  • Integrity: Be real.
  • Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
  • Passion: Committed in heart and mind
  • Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
  • Quality: What we do, we do well
  • Be fun (but responsible).
  • Give value for money (never be cheap).
  • Offer quality and attention to detail (but not at the cost of affordability).
  • Innovate (be willing to take risks).
  • Competitive challenge (be ready to respond to customer needs).
  • Customer service (always hire professional, empowered people capable of giving a great experience).

Hopefully these provide you with food for thought…

Now, I expect you’re asking: “What Brand Values are right for my business?”

Golden rule: don’t be vague. For example, “reliable” is very “so what?” – customers expect every business to be!  Pull together a list of themes of what is essential to your brand mission – to incorporate into every aspect of your business. For example, if it’s quality you’re focused on, consider values like accuracy, attention to detail and consistency. If it’s customer service, reflect on values like empathy, care and communication.

Remember to distinguish goals from values: Goals are where you want your business to go. Values are how your business behaves as it gets there. Make sure you:

  • Do your research. Firstly, look at your competitors. It’s useful to know what their core values are anyway, and you can then ensure your brand values do not mirror theirs. Don’t forget your customers either – your brand values will need to appeal to your target audience and so knowing what motivates them is vital. And lastly, don’t forget your brand story: consider the heritage of the brand and you may well discover a ‘hidden’ or long-forgotten core value.
  • Consider principles and beliefs. What is it about the company that makes you proud? What element of the brand’s personality makes a positive contribution to you, your team and your customers? Looking inward like this can unearth core values you may have missed.
  • Be genuine. Customers are savvy enough to see through brand values that appear too perfect and – in their eyes – unbelievable or undeliverable. Look for tangible connections to your target audience. Even seemingly negative terms can be turned into positive values e.g. a dogged resilience throughout the pandemic.
  • Focus. No point in listing all the generic values you wish for – these need to be values that are unique and relevant to your brand, easy to recall and to action. If it doesn’t differentiate your business, or won’t resonate with your prospects, then don’t include it.

Once you have agreed your brand values, you need to integrate these into the DNA of your business and deliver them consistently throughout. Fail at this and your brand loyalty will evaporate.  Brand values need to both align with and reinforce every key decision in the organisation.

In closing, consider the two quotes below:

If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand

Howard Schultz: Chairman & CEO, Starbucks 1986-2000 & 2008-2017

Stay true to your values. That’s why you were a success in the first place, and that’s how you make incredible things happen

Rafe Offer: Brand Management & Innovation Speaker
Helping with YOUR brand values

Two Shoes Creative can deliver brand values that are unique, easy to recall and to action –  exactly what you want for YOUR brand: bringing your customers to you, and helping you retain them.

Discover how Two Shoes Creative can help you. Simply get in touch.

Two Shoes Creative

Two Shoes Creative are a brand design and marketing agency. They are all about helping ethical and sustainable businesses evolve and expand.
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