What’s it worth? Why brand values matter

Consultancy, Content, Creative Studio / March 2017

Ben Cooper

What’s it worth? Why brand values matter

What drives you? What shapes the decisions that you make on a daily basis? A multitude of factors no doubt, from the immediate needs of the here and now to things that happened a long, long time ago. But there’s something that underpins it all. Your values.

Even if you can’t put your finger on what your personal values are right now they’re there, colouring how you see the world and how you behave within it.

But we’re people. It’s easy to see why values are important to us and how we operate. But for a business? Do brand values really matter?

We say yes, because your brand values are the foundation on which the rest of your brand identity sits. And therefore all your marketing and communications should also be driven by your brand’s values.

An in-depth branding study by The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Millward Brown, and BrandZ reveals some pretty compelling evidence that branding is vital to business growth and value.

They looked at leading brands over a 10-year period and found that those that had a compelling proposition, powerful brand identity, and show-stopping advertising saw brand value grow on average by 168%. Meanwhile those perceived as lacking in those areas grew by just 21% on average.

Where it gets interesting though is here. Brands perceived as having a strong proposition and brand identity but weaker advertising grew by 76%. And brands that had flashy advertising but a weaker proposition and identity? They grew by…27%.

So if you consider that your brand values are integral to building your brand identity you can see that they matter more than you think.

 

How do values impact your brand identity?

A large part of your identity as a person comes from your internal values. How you treat people. What you do for a career. Ethical choices you make. Right down to the clothes you wear and how you style your hair. They’re all impacted to a greater and lesser extent by your values.

Is professional success an important value for you? You’re probably going to be pretty driven, focussed, direct in how you deal with people, always with your eyes on the prize. You probably sacrifice some parts of your personal life to give more to your career. Binge watching Game of Thrones isn’t high on your list of priorities.

It’s the same for brand identity: values direct a brand’s behaviour, looks and more.

If you’re starting completely from scratch then even elements like your name, strapline and visual identity (right down to colour palettes) can and should be influenced by your values.

If you’re looking at your values as part of a rebranding exercise, then you need to look long and hard at how your business operates and see how that aligns, or doesn’t, with your current brand values.

A strong brand identity requires that any inconsistencies be fixed. And that means you either change the values to reflect the brand’s actual offering and behaviour, or you change the behaviour to reflect the values you aspire to. Unfortunately you cannot be a slave to two masters, so something has to give. It’s a tough decision to make but you need to be honest, as there’s little point having internal values that don’t fit with how your business operates.

 

Does it affect your brand strategy?

All brands need a strategy if they’re to achieve their goals. Otherwise your brand runs the risk of getting blown wherever the wind takes it rather than charting its own course to success.

To be successful a brand strategy needs to drive everything forward to the company’s purpose.
It should understand your customers and their needs. It should be consistent. And it should increase loyalty from your customers.

If you don’t know your brand’s values, and how they relate to your offering and your customers,
it seems like it’s going to be a real slog to get a strategy that is customer-centric and consistent.

So if you want a strong brand strategy you probably want to take the time to work out your values.

 

Where do values sit in creating a brand?

It’s pretty simple really. Your brand values should be at the core of defining and creating your brand. Once you uncover them and have all the stakeholders aligned then everything else should build logically from there.

It’s common to see some brands with values like “professionalism”. Well, hate to say it, but don’t you expect that from any business you deal with? And if they don’t deliver on that sort of basic then you go elsewhere.

Brand consultant Paul Hitchens calls these “expected values”. His advice is that they shouldn’t be at the heart of what you do unless you can redefine what you mean by them. How are you professional in a way that your customers wouldn’t expect? Maybe you’re making efforts to raise standards in your industry by delivering seminars or creating influential whitepapers. In that case perhaps you can have professionalism as an important brand value, otherwise it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board and try a little harder.

And of course if the values you decide on after much painstaking work, and use to shape your communications, don’t align with what you deliver. Well. You’re in for problems. But that’s a whole other story.

Does your brand know and understand its values? Get in touch and see if we can help you get to the heart of what your brand means to people.

Latest news