If you use them right, brand values can be your most valuable tool for building a strong culture and loyal customer base.
Most businesses know they matter, but have no idea how to create ones that stick.
Values are often developed passively over time, tacked haphazardly with each new experience. But as the foundation of company culture and the guardrails guiding a team toward its vision, it’s critical for organizations to approach their values with intention from the start.
Great Brands Start with Why
As you could probably guess, there are a few steps between kicking off a rebrand project and nailing down your brand’s new logo and color palette. Every solid brand strategy starts with a few critical questions. The most important being “Why?”
Why does your brand exist beyond making money?
Why did you hire that prospect and not the other?
Why did you accept that opportunity and reject the one before it?
Why do customers choose your brand over the competition?
The answers to these questions lie in your brand’s values.
Why Values Matter
In today’s purpose-driven brand universe, employees and consumers demand transparency and authenticity. Talking the talk simply doesn’t cut it – and it shouldn’t.
In combination with mission and vision, values put your brand’s purpose into practice. With each value comes a promise, setting an expectation of what it means to do business with you.
Authentic values foster accountability, support decisive leadership, and create empowered, bought-in teams. If that’s not compelling enough, modern consumers are known to buy from brands that align with their own belief systems – and avoid brands that don’t.
As the saying goes – if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Without a leg to stand on, brands fall flat.
Creating Strong Values
To create values that go deeper than empty statements on the break room wall, they should clearly define how your team operates, behaves, and interacts.
Many businesses say they “value customer service”. But what does that look like for your brand?
Think of your values less as mantras, but rather concrete promises your customers and employees can depend on. It’s one thing to say you value customer service. It’s another to say – in Southwest Airline’s case, for example – that you will Live by the Golden Rule.
Specificity turns an abstract idea into a meaningful action.
If a person says they value health & well-being, they’re going to make it a priority to go to the gym, prepare a healthy meal, and get good rest. Values carry little weight until they’re linked to measurable behaviors and activities.
Doing this effectively requires having the proper systems in place to empower your team to act in alignment. For a team who values exceptional customer service, employees should have the tools to make things right when something inevitably goes awry.
This is what makes authenticity so critical – it doesn’t take much to crack the facade.
It takes consistency to form a habit. For your values to become your company’s lifeblood, they need to be demonstrated every day, at every level of the organization.
Take Patagonia for example, the poster child of purpose. They not only make strides toward a more environmentally conscious future, but refuse to stand by organizations who are out of touch with what they stand for.
This is a testament to values’ accountability and decision-making power. Knowing what you stand for creates a clear line in the sand to determine whether that next choice is drawing you closer to your purpose, or further away.
Values Are the Guiding Light
In a constantly fluctuating social, political, and business landscape, your brand values are your stake in the ground. By staying true to who your brand is at its core, you’ll build a more engaged and efficient team, attract more loyal customers, and conquer challenges and opportunities with clarity and confidence.