There are many different aspects that make up your brand puzzle pieces, that help define the brand’s identity, making it distinct and meaningful, and shaping the perception others have of it. And while external elements can foster feelings of familiarity and loyalty in customers, remember what they say:
It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
What’s on the “inside” of your brand is what differentiates you from the competition and allows you to connect with customers in deeper and more meaningful ways.
That’s where your brand values come in.
Brand values are the actions your internal team lives out on a daily basis, that uphold the integrity of the brand. Internal employees at their best, are ambassadors for your brand and translate the heart of your brand through their daily interactions. This internal culture creates alignment with the audience and brand allegiance over time.
Of course, your core values depend on a lot of things – including your goals and expectations for the future of your business.
That said, when defining your brand values, you should generally aim to make them:
- Actionable – Your core values shouldn’t be just grandiose words that only make you sound good on paper. They should also be mirrored in everything you do and say. So when defining your core brand values, use phrases that prompt action, choosing verbs over adjectives.
- Memorable – You don’t need an exhaustive list of attributes and descriptions. The easier it is to remember your brand’s values and beliefs, the more likely it is that your employees will internalize and act on them.
- Meaningful – Empty phrases won’t make much of an impact or resonate through your employees to your customers. Words will only have power if they carry a deeper meaning that’s connected to the heart of your brand, and comes from a place of authenticity.
- Unique – Your values should be a reflection of what makes your brand unique, like your brand DNA. They should differentiate you from the competition, so don’t settle for values that mirror what’s already out there.
- Consistent – The manner in which you communicate your brand will shift over the years, but your brand’s values will remain largely unmoved. Your values will continue to maintain a sense of trust in your customer, while those external changes take place.
- Empowering – Instilling values is an excellent opportunity to empower your employees and make them feel key to the brand. Values may, for example, have actions attached to them that employees can initiate without consulting a manager. These actions benefit your customers, elevating their perception of your brand. An organization that empowers its employees in this manner is likely to see company values embedded in the culture far quicker.
Whether they’re aware of it or not, consumers are constantly seeking new ways to connect with brands and relate to them. Fostering those connections goes beyond your products or services and beyond what the external elements of your brand can offer.
Here’s the thing:
Your values affect how consumers perceive your brand.
Considering that up to 77% of consumers admit that they are more likely to buy from brands that share their values, it’s imperative to make them crystal clear from the very beginning.
And ultimately, at a time when consumer trust seems to be at an all-time low, maintaining brand authenticity can make or break your business. So having established them, values will only have an impact if they are truly lived out.
There is no need to “create” your brand values. That’s the wrong way to look at this. The truth is:
Even though you may not have realized it yet, your brand already has a set of values.
They are already there; you just have to identify and define them.
In order to do that, you will have to leave all preconceived notions or ideas you may have about your brand at the door – and look at your brand with a fresh pair of eyes.
Here’s how to find your brand’s core values:
- Brainstorm with your team and, using open-ended questions, come up with three-five words that you believe represent you. This simple exercise gives you an “internal view” of how your associates see your brand.
- Take the time to figure out what matters to your customers. That will give you insight into what they value the most and what they expect from you as a brand.
- Learn from negative experiences. Being aware of your weaknesses means you can change them. It is even possible to convert that weakness to a strength, where it actually becomes one of your brand values.
- Look at what your competitors are doing and see where there are gaps in values that your brand is already living out, or has the potential to adopt. Push into those aspects so that your brand disrupts the current behaviors of the market.