Why it’s so important to articulate your brand values
Your brand is the foundation upon which your entire business is built. It’s the instinctual feeling people have about who you are and what you do.
Your brand values, on the other hand, are the foundation from which all other brand elements should flow. They serve as your guiding principles, helping you to separate right from wrong and allowing you to find clarity on the things that really matter to your business.
Disclaimer: Before we dig into the tremendous value that stems from articulating your values, we want to make something really (really) clear. When we talk about brand values, we’re not talking about those fluffy (and often generic) words found on the about page of a website that no one outside of the leadership team has ever heard of.
The kind of values we’re talking about are the deep and meaningful kind. The ones that are truly authentic, actionable and timeless. The kind that aren’t just words on a page but words to live by.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s dig in!
01 Brand values encourage brand loyalty
In a time when competition floods almost every market (thanks internet), we need to find ways to differentiate ourselves from those operating in the same space. But that doesn’t mean developing a new product or creating a really distinctive logo – because these things can easily be replicated.
By differentiation, we mean the things that no one else can offer because they’re utterly unique to your brand. And these things are your brand purpose, your brand promise and your brand values.
Of course, external attributes like your brand identity and personality are incredibly important, too. They help to establish awareness and encourage familiarity with your brand. They also help your audience develop a certain level of affinity and maybe even loyalty.
But to connect with your audience on a deeper level in a way that no other business can, you need to tap into the intrinsic elements that motivate your brand. The ones that give meaning to what you do and support you in driving change. And when you can articulate these in a way that really resonates with your audience? Well, there’s nothing more powerful than that for creating deeply loyal customers.
02 Brand values help to guide business and partnership decisions
Having a clearly defined set of brand values is really handy for assessing business decisions and partnership opportunities for alignment with where you’re headed as a brand.
Consider this. You’re an up and coming e-commerce brand that prides itself on sourcing eco-friendly products from local manufacturers. Part of the reason you exist is to support these small businesses and to encourage consumers to spend their money on goods that have little impact on the planet. As business starts taking off, a manufacturer with an awesome product (at a great price) reaches out in the hopes you’ll take on their stock. But once you dig a little deeper, you learn that some of the manufacturing processes are pretty harmful – despite the materials themselves meeting your eco-friendly criteria.
Of course, you could argue that the products themselves live up to your standards. But as one of your core values is to minimise impact on the environment, taking them on would mean falling short of the standards you set for yourself. And as well as being inauthentic to yourself, you’d be inauthentic to the customers who really resonate with your brand values. Sure, there would be some who might not care. But your loyal customers, the ones that make up a large chunk of your revenue are probably not going to be doing business with you again any time soon.
I guess what we’re trying to say is that it’s pretty easy to jump the gun when an exciting opportunity presents itself. But think – is this decision likely to lead you closer to (or further away from) the brand you want to be?
That’s the power of articulating your brand values; they make it really easy to spot something that just isn’t the right fit for who you are as a brand. They ensure you stay true to your customers and that you don’t dilute the message of what you stand for – no matter how enticing an opportunity might seem.
03 Brand values give your employees a standard to live up to
For values to be truly authentic, they need to radiate through every interaction your customers have with your business – and that includes interactions with your employees.
With clearly defined and articulated brand values, your employees have total clarity on how they’re expected to act and react when representing your business. With a clear understanding of what it means to embrace and embody your brand values, the chances of an employee contradicting your ideals drop dramatically and the authenticity of your brand values is more likely to remain intact.
With this in mind, brand values are a really good gauge to use during the hiring process and to assess whether a new recruit will align with the direction of your business. Articulating your brand values will also help to attract more of the people you want on your team while perhaps discouraging those that may not share your attitudes and beliefs.
04 The takeaway
At the end of the day, values are only as valuable as your ability to live by them. So before you set your values in stone, make sure to really think about how you’ll prove to your audience that they’re authentic.
(P.s if you’re interested in learning more about how to define your brand values, stay tuned for our next instalment).