Thought-out values lead to strong and distinctive brands that enjoy loyal and engaged audiences. In this article, we’ll show you what brand values are, how to set them and why they are so important.
Some people think the business is primarily about making money. That’s not true. Many companies do something more and try to make our world a better place. If you share that point of view, you ought to think about your brand values. It’s good to brainstorm them, use them as a basis for your business strategy (or align it with them if you already have one) and pursue them in whatever you do.
In the article about building brilliant brands, our CEO wrote: “In order to build a brilliant brand, you have to concentrate on branding that’s based on putting a company’s beliefs and mission into a graphic representation and creating a set of principles guiding your organisation.”
Brand values constitute that “set of brand principles”. They are foundational beliefs that guide your organisation. Brand values frequently refer to protecting the environment, diversity, solidarity and transparency, but they can also revolve around other questions.
Brand values are beliefs and standards that you stand for as a company and as a brand. Values should direct the way your company works, grows and adjusts to ever-changing market circumstances; in other words – how it pursues its mission and overall vision. Why? Because, as Anne Miltenburg put it, “organisations with strong values perform better”.
Why do you need brand values?
There are two vital aspects of that question. On the inside, with brand values, you have a purpose and brand guidelines for everything you do as a brand. You attract like-minded people to collaborate with you (both business partners and employees), taking care of your brand’s day to day image. On the outside, you can position yourself in a unique spot and build your image as an expert in your specific field. You’re viewed as a coherent company and thanks to that brand consistency, you’re more trustworthy.
There are many studies confirming that statement to be true, but let’s mention two of them:
- Deloitte: Welcome to Generation Z: “Gen Z no longer forms opinions of a company solely based on the quality of their products/services but now on their ethics, practices and social impact.”
- Edelman Trust 2022: “60% of the general public will choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values.”
Brand values enable your company to connect with its customers and users on a deeper level. Both our experience and market research show that customers are more loyal to brands that they identify with somehow. Recent Ipsos study revealed that, across all 25 countries surveyed, an average 70% of respondents say they buy from brands that reflect their own principles.
How can you set brand values?
Brand values, as we’ve already pointed out, cannot be artificially “created”. Most likely, they already somehow exist in your company and make up your brand. So instead of creating them, you should concentrate on discovering brand values that have already been guiding your work so far.
Take some time and just think about your brand – what’s it like? What is important to you? How do you want to do business? What makes your brand unique and authentic? It is likely, that when answering these questions, you will unwittingly use some terms that could work as your brand values.
You could start by brainstorming with your team. Ask workers and co-workers what comes to mind when they think about your brand. You can specifically ask, “what do you value in our company?” or “what values come to your mind when you think about our brand and why?”
If you want to make sure that the target audience shares similar thinking, you could conduct research to find out what’s important for your customers and build on that. After all, you want to listen to your customers’ voices, right?
What should your brand values be like?
Here, we need to mention four essential characteristics of your brand values. Whatever values you decide to pursue, they have to be:
- Actionable: In other words, your company needs to be able to implement them in real life, in the way your company works.
- Memorable: Values need to be straightforward and easy to understand and remember by everyone in your company, from an intern to a CEO. Also, there should be no doubt what each value truly means.
- Unique: You cannot copy-paste other brands’ values. You need to come up with your own. Otherwise, they won’t be authentic, and that’s pretty much the whole point.
- Meaningful: You cannot decide that X will be your brand value because it sounds nice. There has to be something deeper behind each value. Why do you want to pursue it? What is your story? What do you want to say through this particular value?
What are the examples of brand values? We get that; nothing works better than real-life examples. So, let’s have a look:
Their brand values highlight what’s important for them:
- Create products that lasts for generations and, therefore, limit ecological impact
- Protect and restore the stability and beauty of life
- Cause no unnecessary harm with their business practices (e.g., related to the products they make)
You can clearly see that Patagonia focuses on the credibility, quality and ethical side of its business. Focusing on all of that creates a special kind of bond between the company and the consumers.
BEN & JERRY’S
As we can read on their website: “we seek in all we do, at every level of our business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth’s natural systems.”
Ben & Jerry’s defines its values as progressive. They emphasize that capitalism does not give everyone equal opportunities and that the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. They also point out that their products are created with respect for the environment, without producing unnecessary waste. They also declare their faith in non-violent conflict resolution and peaceful achievement of justice.
This global design and consulting firm created its values based on seven human-centred axioms:
- Be optimistic
- Embrace ambiguity
- Learn from failure
- Make others successful
- Take ownership
- Talk less, do more
Take a look at this short video to understand how they implement them in everyday work:
In particular, they focus on the culture of helping, which they promote strongly within their organisation. Internal research they conducted shows that it vastly contributes to strengthening the effectiveness, creativity and trust in the company.
Adopting brand values is undoubtedly one of the best ways of standing out in the market, growing target audience and getting more engaged customers. Brand values constitute your signpost – they indicate where to go and what to concentrate on.
If you don’t have brand values yet, perhaps it’s a good moment to think about them. And if you need help, we are at your service. Admind is an experienced branding agency with worldwide experience. We will gladly help you discern what values should guide your brand so that your customers/users can identify with it more deeply.
Contact us to find out more; we’ll take it from there.