Table of Contents
- What exactly are brand values?
- Why is knowing your core brand values so important?
- How to define your brand values?
- How do famous brands build strong relationships with their consumers through their core values?
- The Lesson
Let me ask you one important question today.
What do you really stand for?
That’s right, today I’m talking about your brand values. And before you close this post thinking “I don’t need to know this to have a successful brand…” think twice.
While you can decide not to define what are the things that really matter to you, you can’t run away from them. They still matter. They still play a big role in your actions, behaviors, and decision-making process.
So how about you give me a few minutes to prove to you that defining your brand values can actually help you build a better, more authentic brand that feels right?
What exactly are brand values?
They’re one of the 4 foundational pieces of your brand—Values, Purpose, Vision & Mission.
Your brand values are beliefs you internally want to live by. They are also the things you admire about others. They’re usually one-word or short phrases stating what’s important to you as a business owner, and your brand. When done right, they help your audience understand more about who you are and what’s important to you.
Brand values are NOT a marketing technique trying to convince your customers that you care about the same things they do. They aren’t a tool to help you make more sales either.
Brand Values are the very first thing I work on with my clients. That’s right, we talk about what matters to them before even thinking about who their target audience is and what makes them different from their competitors. And it’s a long way before we start navigating the visual direction, or talking about company logo.
Long way that pays off long term, that is.
Why is knowing your core brand values so important?
If you’re still unsure of what the heck I’m talking about let me tell you 3 main reasons why you should take some time to define your values as soon as possible.
👉 Knowing what you stand for makes daily business operations easier for you
It’s simple really. Your core values are the reason behind your decisions. Behind your motives. Behind your actions. And so knowing them will not only help you make the right decisions in the future, it will ensure that whatever you do in your business is aligned with what’s important to you.
👉 They will help you build company culture
Brand values are underlying principles & beliefs that help guide your business and help anyone working for your business navigate difficult situations. Having your employees & contractors aligned with your brand’s core values makes everyone play for the same team.
👉 Your values influence the way you interact with your clients, customers & partners
These beliefs also influence the way a company interacts with partners, clients, and shareholders.
How to define your brand values?
1. Take time to brainstorm your values
Now, before you write down a few random words and call it a day, let me pause you for a moment. Don’t be too quick to think you KNOW for sure what your values are.
The best way to find out what truly matters to you is to simply brainstorm at first. Sit down with a cuppa of your favorite liquid (coffee all day, everyday here), and journal for a few minutes. Ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the one thing I never want to stop doing?
- What do I really care about?
- What do I admire about others?
- What do I feel bad about doing?
- What am I passionate about?
- How would I like to be treated and how do I treat others?
- What rules do I live by?
These questions are great to help you write what you personally stand for. Now, your brand values may be a bit different, but more likely than not they will be aligned with your personal values.
2. Get detailed about what these values actually mean to you
While the common practice says write one-word brand values, it’s really important to know what these words mean to YOU.
Trying to define something using just one word simply doesn’t cut it as the same word will mean thousands of different things to thousands of companies. Because while we all know the general definition of the word, each of us will execute the value in a different way. The execution will depend on what kind of business we run, in what niche & more.
That’s why I always want my clients to write a short paragraph explaining what the particular value means to them.
Like my client Faith and her definition of one of their brand value:
Progress: We encourage our team and clients to always celebrate the progress they’re making in their own life, no matter how small. And if it happens that something is not leading to progress, we will readjust the plan.
3. Choose 4-6 core values & be specific
While most of us agree with a long list of various values, most of them are what we agree with, but not really live by. Seemingly small but in real life quite substantial difference.
Lots of values can be also grouped under an umbrella value.
For example, one of my values is Transparency, and it covers the fact that:
a) I literally can’t lie = I’m honest about my intentions & motives
b) I want what’s best for my clients = I’ll tell them if I don’t agree with their decisions/ideas and explain why I don’t think it’s a good approach
c) I need to make sure we’re on the same page during the whole project = I expect them to tell me when there’s something that isn’t working for them either.
4. Make them actionable & measurable
Answering all these questions and choosing your values is essential, but here comes the tricky part. How can you transfer what you have in your head to your potential consumer?
By making more than plain statements.
By showing your audience you’re ready to put them in action.
By being able to measure them, and work on them more if needed
Because while defining your core values isn’t a marketing technique, sharing your values can (and should) become a part of your marketing strategy. Take an example from these popular brands that shifted their marketing strategy to reflect their brand values. They’re proudly stating “this is who we are, and this is what we support.” and in doing so, they give their brand identities meaning and mobilize their audience to become true cheerleaders of their brand.
5. Live your values through on-brand content
Once you choose your brand values, your most important job is to share them with your audience and communicate them in a way that they really get.
How? With on-brand content.
On-brand content can come in the form of a video, blogpost, podcast, or a live event, knowing how you can share your brand’s core values with your customer makes all the difference.
How do famous brands build strong relationships with their consumers through their core values?
Look at the following examples to understand more about how you can use your brand values in action:
Take the well-known diapers’ brand Huggies. They developed an emotional campaign about the power of hugs entitled “No Baby Unhugged.” Their competitor, Pampers, at one point had a 100% of all the hospital contracts in Canada, and they knew they couldn’t compete. They also knew that new mothers would use the diapers given to them in the hospital. So they started to educate mothers about the importance of skin-to-skin contact with their new babies. Huggies also made the brilliant move of ensuring that Canadian hospitals had volunteers available to give babies hugs
Lyft created a campaign called “Cities Talk Back,” based upon one of their 3 core values is “to uplift others.” This campaign allowed them to take a stand about immigrant rights and equal opportunity. Their tagline “America is an idea – not a geography” is a powerful message. They believe that the stories from their diverse driver community should be valued and celebrated, and shared so that the real issues that immigrants, along with their families, face today.
Another great example of using your brand’s core values to build a connection with your customers is shown by Chief. As soon as you visit their website, you are presented with the brand’s core value of helping and connecting all the women leaders out there. Women leaders are sometimes still considered a novel thing. Chief is a community for women at the C-level in the corporate world. Their brand connects women with the powerful idea that they are the only organization designed for women who are rising leaders making decisions today and influencing change tomorrow.
Sharing your core values with your audience can bring about trust and an emotional connection. This can eventually lead to word-of-mouth recommendations, making your brand unique and inspiring for others.
Additionally, on-brand content that shares your values through brand storytelling is the way to go. Powerful storytelling that not only highlights your product but primarily echoes your brand’s core values is what branded content is all about. Your ideal clients are willing to buy but they crave value. Sharing your story with the world and especially with your potential customers helps you to get the traction you need.
For more tips on building a personality-driven brand that you’re dying to share with others, follow me on Instagram.