A large part of how you act as a person will be dependent on your values. These are framed by your parents, your community, your experiences in life and the choices you’ve made. Some people will have a strongly defined and keenly felt set of values, for others they may be less obvious. When questioned however, they will articulate principles and ideas that inform how they behave and react.
It should be the same with your business.
Your brand values should be at the core of your business model. They are what creates the moral compass of your business. Even if you’ve given no thought to those brand values, it’s likely that a certain set of values will be determining how your business develops and how you operate within it.
Thinking through those values, articulating them and then considering how they impact on your business can inform your marketing strategy.
Are your values something that potential customers want to buy into?
Are brand values important?
When consumers think of a brand, they may think about logos, the colour in the design, the fonts used, or the slogans and style of advertising. While these things are all important in establishing and sustaining a brand identity, what should inform them is the core brand values.
It’s these that help provide pillars as to how people within the business act, and how it presents itself. They help give your customers a more memorable, consistent and ultimately meaningful experience with your brand. This should, in turn, help to encourage a more meaningful engagement with your brand. Why when someone needs to purchase a particular item that you sell do they think of your company and not that of someone else?
Think why so many people ignore the supermarket just around the corner, and instead drive to the competitor’s store at the other side of town. It’s because there’s something about the brand’s values and identity that strikes a chord with them. Even if cost is partly motivating that choice, the drive towards lower prices will in itself be reflective of the deeper brand values of the company.
It’s these brand values, aligned with your presentation, company culture and aligned messaging which helps you properly differentiate your business from its competitors.
If you don’t have brand values this will impact on your brand purpose, goals, mission and vision. Without brand values it will be much more difficult to make your business stand out from the competition.
How do you establish brand values?
If brand values are the all-important compass by which you ultimately navigate your business, how do you go about finding and establishing them in the first place?
When people begin to think about their brand values they sometimes start with their own values. This can lead to business brand values that sound a little platitudinal. Everyone wants to be honest, trusted and decent. While placing those values at the heart of your business won’t do you a disservice, they won’t differentiate you from your competitors. You need to give your brand values more texture.
Instead, think about a negative consumer experience you had? How did it make you feel? Write down these negative feelings, and then think about their opposite. If something was disconcerting, the opposite might be reassuring. There are plenty of brands that aim to be reassuring. Think of Heinz Soup, or Scottish Widows for example. Or perhaps a night out left you feeling bored, in which case you want your local bar to prioritise excitement.
Then try thinking about what you stand for. While most people won’t be able to recite a lengthy couple of sentences summing up a company’s philosophy, they can tell you that Apple stands for innovation and Lidl for value. How can you sum up what your business stands for in three individual words?
After you’ve discovered what your brand values are you need to use them consistently. Everything about your brand from the logo, the colour schemes you use and advertising, need to reflect those core values. If you want to build a brand you need to stay consistent to those values.
That doesn’t mean how you present your business needs to look entirely the same across all social media channels, and in all places at all times. It can look different and is free to evolve. But all those changes and that evolution should grow out of those core business values.