Brand values. They can be part of the roadmap for all of your brand’s decisions. They can provide guidance on everything from how your brand looks to how your whole team interacts with customers and each other. They can deeply influence your company culture and audience perception.
I say can, because people tend to choose core brand values that seem to just check a box, rather than inspire and drive decisions. Let’s talk about how to choose core values that will work with and for your brand.
Here’s a familiar scenario. A local coffee shop and a Starbucks are located on the same block. Their prices are relatively the same and the quality is also on par. But every day, you choose the local coffee shop over Starbucks. Why is that?
Because of what you value. You may value the grit of a small business or their charity in giving 5 cents from each of their cups to a local organization. Maybe they have succeeded in running an all women-lead business. Perhaps they just remember your name every time you walk in. It could be that simple.
But something is happening - your values are aligning.
Typical brand values are usually something like - trust, integrity, loyalty, honesty. It’s not that these are bad brand values, per say. But they are often overused, and sometimes, uninspiring.
The problem with these types of typical brand values is that they tell instead of show - if someone tells you they’re trustworthy, you’re less likely to believe they are, right? But if someone says they believe in consistency and compassion, you’re more likely to FEEL that they’re trustworthy. See the difference?
While people do value trust, trust must be built and retained through many other factors and actions. They do not recognize it as trust, it’s in everything that creates and keeps that trust.
You want your values to do some work for you. Instead of choosing generic words to say what you believe in, choose words that embody what you believe in. That’s how you’re going to get a deeper connection with your audience. Choose REAL values that connect to their real values.
• Choose values that work with your brand personality. Eg. Is your brand more rugged? Or super intellectual? Maybe it’s a sexy, lover brand. Choose words that signify and authenticate that personality.
• Use Power Thesaurus to look up synonyms that better suit your brand. So, if your brand is more rugged and you value determination, you could use words like courage or grit to embody that rugged appeal. You want to consider their “mouth feel” (what it feels like when you say them) and their memorability.
• Make them actionable - Create a short sentence or phrase for each. Eg. Courage - Have guts in the face of failure.
• Be selective. No more than five though four is best. Why? You want to remember them.
Your core values should also work to help align your team. All employees (and new hires) should not only know what the values are but embody them. If you’re getting ready to change or implement new values, be aware you may get some pushback from long standing employees. Our advice? Make them a part of the process. Train them first and empower them to lead the rest of the team. And, be prepared to make a tough decision if a team member won’t get on-board.
In summary, brand values are not just some HR Kool Aid. Values should not be chosen because you think they check off some expected box. Make your values stand for something and start bringing more life to your entire brand.
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