Brand values are an essential part of your business, whether you run a physical store, an eCommerce site, or both.
You need customers who want to buy from you because they believe in your brand. To do that, you need strong core values that are well communicated to your employees, partners, and customers. Here is what you need to know about establishing strong brand values.
What brand values are right for your business?
For most people, the first values that occur to them are rather vague: quality and reliability stand out quickly as brand values that most businesses can get behind. By explaining just how your business embodies this value, you can better distinguish why it is an essential part of your company's core values.
Considering a wide range of brand values can help you to determine just how to break down your business brand value into themes that you can incorporate into every aspect of your business. A list of values is a great way to brainstorm what is essential to your brand mission.
If your mind goes to quality, consider values like accuracy, attention to detail, consistency, craftsmanship, excellence, expertise, and precision.
On the other hand, if you want to express customer service look at values like accessibility, approachability, care, communication, customer-centric, dependability, and empathy.
What brand values are right for your business?
Core brand values are at the center of your brand. They are incorporated into the look of your brand, your marketing campaigns, and the relationships that you forge through customer service.
Most business owners know how important it is for a brand to be consistent and distinct, but many people don't realize how vital brand value is to every aspect of your company. Value gives your brand form. Without it, your efforts to create consistent branding will fall short.
A brand is more than the value of the products or services that it sells. By building a positive association in the minds of customers, you can charge more for the products in your brick and mortar store or eCommerce website. Consumers are more likely to buy from a brand with whom they share values.
Furthermore, loyal customers will keep buying from you again and again. By having strong brand values and encouraging customer retention, you can make sure that you will continue to get their sales for years to come.
If you have an online store, you may benefit even more from strong core values, since customers may be less willing to trust an online company unless they have built a strong sense of a core brand and associated values.
How do you write brand values?
Brand values are a crucial part of a strong brand. They are the core values that your company believes in and stands for. A strong sense of brand values builds morale within your company and increases loyalty to your brand. This can be especially important for eCommerce business and other online businesses that may struggle to create a sense of connection with employees and customers.
Great brand values should:
- Be clear and sincere: You should care about the values that your business invests in and be clear about what those values are and where they apply.
- Build connections: Ideally, your primary customers will share your values and connect with your brand over them.
- Set you apart: Your values should be distinct and help your business to stand out from the crowd.
Creating brand values that accomplish these goals may not be simple, but it is important.
Distinguish values from goals
Your business doubtless has several goals that are fundamental to your business success. These aims define where you hope your business will go and what you long to achieve.
It is essential to differentiate goals from values because, very often, they may contradict one another. You may have a monetary goal to meet or a big purchase that has always been a hope for your company, but your brand values might discourage you from meeting that goal.
Goals are where you want your business to go. Values are how your business behaves as it gets there.
Do your research
You may share some values with another company, especially if they have a similar business to your own, but you should not have core brand values that line up perfectly with someone else's company values. Know what other company's core values are so that you can differentiate yourself.
The best brand values are those that also appeal to people who purchase from your brand, encouraging brand loyalty. Find out what your target audience values and work that into your list of core values.
This can be an easy bit of research to overlook. You already know your brand, so why research your story?
Whether you started your company yourself or not, it is essential to step back and look at how your company started and where it is going. There is a good chance that a significant core value is buried in your brand story.
Authentic branding wins customers
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make when they are defining their core values is trying to be too idealistic. Consumers will look right through brand values that are too whitewashed and perfect.
You want core brand values that reflect the reality of what your business is and helps customers to feel like they can connect with you. Instead of safe, "pretty" values, think about the raw feelings and struggles that connect your brand to the world.
Sometimes it is better to start with a negative experience. By thinking of how your company worked through a difficult time, you may find the significant brand value hidden in that experience.
Think of what made you feel angry, uncomfortable, or disappointed in your company. Then, think of the opposite feeling:
- If a project wasn't finished on time, perhaps the opposite situation is preparedness, so things don't fall through the cracks.
- If your employee had a bad interaction with a customer, maybe putting the customer first no matter what is a value worth incorporating into your business.
A strong brand can be the difference between an abandoned cart, and a conversion.
What do you stand for?
Sometimes we get caught up in thinking what we want our business to be and the differences between where we are and where we want to be, without thinking enough about the bottom line of what we stand for. Measuring and hoping for growth is great, but don't let it get in the way of thinking about what makes you proud to be a part of your company.
What would you say about your company if you were bragging to a friend who didn't know what you did? How about if you were explaining your company to an older person who you respect? Looking at your company from another angle can help you arrive at your core values.
Ruling out options
Some of the first values that may occur to you may not be the best. There are many values that you want your business to embody, but you can't use them all as your core brand values. You need to choose the values that can accomplish your three goals: clear and sincere, build connections, and set you apart.
You may find that value is heartfelt to your company and builds connections with your employees and audiences, but it does nothing to set you apart. Or you may find a very unique value, but realize that it won't do much to connect you with your audience.
Generic values that are no more than sound principles of business are also not good options. You want customers to see that you are going and above and beyond, not adhering to the bare minimum of business ethics.
Examples of brand values
One of the best ways to develop your brand strategy around values is to look at what other companies have done. Every brand experience is different.
You cannot expect a giant corporation like Coca Cola to have the same sort of values as a growing eCommerce company. However, looking at the ways that another company has formed its core values can help you develop your own, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Here are some summarized examples of brand values. Check out the full list.
- Customers First. Make every decision based on serving customers.
- Team on a mission. Work together with ambition and humility.
- Think big. Never settle; challenge what's possible.
- Act with integrity. Honest, transparent, and no tolerance for hidden agendas or politics.
- Make a difference every day. Inspired to make an impact.
- Be bold. Take action and go.
- Build relationships/deliver results. Relationships deliver results, and we make a difference by working together.
- Challenge and collaborate. Have hard conversations, and don't assume anything.
- Focus on the outcome. Embrace learning curves to accomplish the goal.
- Start with the consumer. Always put yourself in the consumer's shoes.
- Stay open. Differences strengthen the team, and combining experiences and expertise makes for better problem solvers.
- We hire the best people. We stack the most talented and solution-oriented people against the best opportunities
- We give you the runway. We are all managers with ownership to innovate, build, and fix
- We innovate together. We build collaborative relationships
- We hold the bar high. We’re ambitious and back decisions with data
- 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
- Stay balanced.
- Go further.
- Build relationships.
- Champion differences.
- Be humble.
- Be curious.
- Be open.
- Be customer-driven
- Be effective.
How do you integrate brand values?
Once you have determined what core values matter to you, the next step is figuring out how to integrate those values into your business. You want to make sure that your brand values are consistent throughout your marketing and branding.
Make sure that your core values are integrated with your customer engagement strategy.
Nobody likes a hypocrite, including the market. Whether consumers notice that your business does not behave along core values or not, you will certainly miss the opportunity to establish brand loyalty in consumers, which isn't a good brand strategy.
Your values should drive every choice that your company makes. Whenever you are debating an option, ask yourself and the other decision-makers in your company how well a given decision aligns with your values as a company.
Cause marketing is a great way to make sure that your brand values are thorough and consistent and make sure that a positive image gets out into the world.
Utilize a cause throughout marketing. A great brand strategy for extending the impact of your core values is to combine brand values with a good cause. This can be accomplished easily by collecting and/or matching donations for your cause on your site, encouraging customers to think about your values while they peruse your site.
Customers will build trust in your brand every time they check out, without you having to do anything except for utilizing cause-integration for your eCommerce platform.
American Express is a great example of utilizing cause marketing to further brand image through values. They have contributed to charity to the tune of nearly a billion dollars since they began charitable giving in 1954. Their goals in charitable giving help to reinforce their values. Here are the summarized goals in charity:
- Developing leaders. They strive to develop leaders to address society's complex problems.
- Preserving places. They want to be good stewards of their community, especially historic places.
- Serving communities. They engage community members and staff to impact society.
Here are American Express' core values, summarized:
- Customer commitment. Develop positive relationships.
- Quality. Provide premium value.
- Integrity. Hold high standards of integrity.
- Teamwork. Cross boundaries to work together.
- Respect for people. Encourage development and reward performance.
- Good citizenship. Be good citizens in our communities.
- A will to win. Aim to win in the marketplace and in business.
- Personal accountability. Deliver on commitments.
American Express' business goals are reinforced by their charitable goals, helping to reinforce their brand image. A commitment to customers and respect for other people are supported by charitable causes of developing leaders and serving communities. Good citizenship and integrity are supported by preserving places.
Reinforce core values
Your values should affect your company culture from the bottom to the top. They should be a part of everything that your company does. Your employees should not only know but use and cite your values throughout their work.
Values should be an explanation for behavior and a reason beyond a possible choice. If a value proposition doesn't have this kind of universal functionality, it may not be the best choice for your company.
Use your brand values in hiring decisions
You want everyone on your team to share in your values. Therefore, values should be an integral part of the hiring decision. Don't just ask if a potential employee cares about your values. Remember, they may have researched your brand and values before coming to the interview.
Instead, ask questions that draw out their response to your values. For instance, if passion is a value that your brand stands for, ask the potential employee whether they are the kind of person who likes to "take their work home" with them. If leadership is important to you, ask an employee whether they would choose to act in a particular situation.
Build better brand values with Shopping Gives
ShoppingGives can help you to develop and integrate brand values that will provide a reliable structure for your company and shape a strong brand image. To discover how cause marketing can help your brand build stronger brand values to create more engaging customer experiences, schedule a quick chat with our team of experts.