Click over to the “About” page of most brands and you’ll find something about the values the company holds. Sometimes, these values might seem pretty far-removed from what a company actually does and offers (say, a hot dog brand espousing their commitment to equality), and it’s easy to dismiss them as something that a high-paid agency thought up during a workshop that’s been long forgotten. But the truth is that brand values — and how you use them — matter a lot for the success of your company.
Before we dive into why brand values matter so much, let’s first look at what they are and where they come from. You can think of core brand values as the DNA of your company. They are the values and principles that drive your business and inform every aspect of your operations, from budgets to marketing campaigns to customer relations and beyond.
The idea of brand core values first came into the mainstream in 1994 through the popular business book Built to Last, which asserted that the most successful companies all had clearly established values at their core. Since then, nearly every company has gone through some branding exercise to determine their core values — and while this is often a throwaway exercise that doesn’t mean much, when brands truly integrate their core values into their day-to-day practices, the results are powerful. While strong core brand values have myriad benefits, three of the most important are brand consistency, connection with customers, and company culture.
Brand consistency matters a lot. It’s essential for brand awareness, making sure that consumers who encounter your brand recognize and remember it, and it’s also important when it comes to building trust among current and potential customers. While tech can be helpful in terms of enforcing brand consistency, having strong core values provides an even deeper assurance that all employees will properly represent your brand in every instance.
When each employee on your marketing team has a deep understanding of your brand’s core values, it becomes effortless to represent your brand in the same way in all instances. By tying every campaign and piece of content back to the same fundamentals, messaging will always remain consistent.
What’s more, this deep understanding of core values can be helpful for other departments as well, from product to design to customer service: each employee, regardless of their actual job title, has the opportunity to represent your brand on a daily basis (especially with the rise of social media!). Strong brand values give you confidence that everyone on the team deeply understands who you are and what you stand for, which will in turn lead to brand consistency across all touchpoints.
Connection with Customers
Social media and the internet have democratized the brand and marketing landscape. People no longer respond to catchy taglines and memorable commercials the way they once did. Today, consumers want and expect authenticity and a greater meaning from their brands. Strong brand cover values allow you to deliver both of these things, as well as earn greater customer loyalty.
We’re living in a much more socially conscious time than before, and that translates to consumer behavior. Increasingly, people are making purchasing decisions based on the impact their decision has on the larger world — in fact, 63% of global consumers prefer to buy products or services from companies that stand for a purpose and reflect their own values.
This value-driven behavior presents a great opportunity for brands to authentically reach the ideal customer. By defining your values, you can pinpoint people who share those values and make sure your message reaches them. In a world where there are myriad choices for everything, having values that resonate with someone can make all the difference in whether they choose you over the competition.
Once you’ve attracted a customer, they’re also far more likely to remain a customer if they’ve connected with your values. A lot of products or services can feel interchangeable, but clear values give consumers an opportunity to closely identify with you, setting you apart from the rest and strengthening their relationship to your brand. These shared values between brand and consumer mean that you stand for something that they believe in, and thus you mean something to them.
When a brand’s core values are strong, it permeates not just consumer interaction, but also internal company culture. First off, your brand values will impact your hiring decisions, as you’ll want to bring people into the team who share the values of your brand. Brand core values also present a powerful differentiating point when it comes to attracting top talent: 46% of job seekers say that company culture is important to them when choosing where to apply. The end result is that you’ll naturally create a workforce of talented, like minded individuals who feel deeply and authentically aligned with your mission.
Once employees have been hired, brand core values continue to nurture a positive and productive company culture. Just 23% of employees say that they can apply their company values to their day-to-day work, which is a disappointing stat that also underscores just how much room for improvement there is here. Clear values mean that internal communications and policies are all consistent, which helps build a sense of security and trust. On top of that, when employees understand and believe in your brand values, they’re not only more motivated to produce great work, they’re also more empowered to make decisions confidently. Both of these factors build morale, loyalty, and job satisfaction.
Establishing brand core values can be a throwaway exercise that you conduct once and then forget about, or it can be a guidepost for your company. Choosing the former means you’ll waste a few hours and maybe a whole lot of money; choosing the latter means that you’ll create a better end product, communicate more clearly, cultivate strong internal culture, and connect authentically with consumers. No matter what your values are, the choice seems pretty clear.