Brand values are an essential part of your business as it sets your business’ guiding principles. It is what your brand stands for. Brand values or your core brand values determine your brand’s message, identity, and personality. Brand value differentiates your business from your competitors.
What are brand values?
Think of it like this, your brand is like a person. When you are branding your business or product, you want to give it personality so that people can relate to it and empathize with it.
Think of the example of M&M's, what do they stand for? They stand for different things; from fun, sharing, moments to name a few.
What makes the brand values effective is that they are consistent across all branding and marketing channels. As such, core brand values are the values that you associate with your products that make your products unforgettable, as well as being meaningful to the audience.
Brand values create brand loyalty. A good way to determine your branding values would be to think about what your company stands for and how it makes the lives of people better.
Therefore, brand value can be defined as the long-term emotional effect that the brand has on the audience. In fact, according to the American Marketing Association, “brand values are the fundamental beliefs that brand owners and their customers share about the brand.”
Concurrently, an article from the Harvard Business Review states that core brand values are “the drivers and desired outcomes of a brand.”
In other words, your brand value is what sets you apart from your competitors while still keeping in mind that it must be simple enough to fit in a tweet, as well as being memorable.
How are brand and values related?
For you to have a better understanding of the relation between brand and values, we need first to establish a better understanding of what each of these words means.
Brand, as defined by Investopedia, is “any name, term, sign, symbol or design that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”
Brands are typically built and designed to differentiate a company’s products from those offered by its competitors. This helps the consumer identify which product is best suited to accomplish a certain job, and makes it easier to make a purchase decision.
On the other hand, values, according to the website of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary are “important assets or qualities judged to be of greatest worth which guide the actions and decisions of an individual, family, corporation, institution, social group or nation.”
As such, brands and values are related in such a way that they share the same objective and serve as a foundation for decision-making. However, they are conceptually different in that values can have existed before branding, while brands must be built up over time to establish a positive reputation with consumers.
Moreover, the term "brand value" is often mentioned within boardrooms and among management teams of large corporations, but it's important that small businesses also realize its importance and start practicing it to increase their profitability and help achieve overall business goals.
Why do you need to start identifying your brand values?
Brand values can be used to make strategic decisions that have a significant impact on your company’s growth prospects. However, you need to understand that figuring out your brand values can be a time-consuming task.
In the same perspective, you need to have an image in mind – and where branding comes into play is a step after creating the image. This means that by the time you're done with your branding, you need to already have a concrete understanding of what your brand stands for - and its values. This is because whatever you do to your brand will reflect its values and vice versa.
Moreover, identifying your brand values can help you make the right decisions about your brand and make sure that the communication consistently represents its values.
And if you're planning to identify your brand, you should be familiar with its types.
Types of brand values?
There are several types of brand values, and below are the most common ones:
1. Emotional Value
The emotional value of a brand means that it can evoke certain feelings and emotions in its customers or users. For example, Apple is associated with innovation, quality, creation (in other words, the birth of something), thinking different and cool design among others. This is the reason why such brands can charge more (compared to others) for their products and still have customers lining up in front of their stores.
2. Task Values
The task value of a brand means that it can help the user complete an activity or task easily and conveniently. Sony, for example, is associated with good quality sound among other things. People get Sony speakers when they want to listen to music or watch movies. An easy task to complete, without much thinking involved – just plug it in and start enjoying great sound.
3. Self-expressive Values
A brand is a reflection of its customer's personality. If you like Marlboro cigarettes, you might think they reflect your rugged masculinity or nautical adventure – whatever it is that you're trying to project onto the world.
4. Intrinsic Values
Customers do not just buy a brand for its label or the promises that it makes, but also for what it does to their lives and how it fulfills their needs. Intrinsic values are all about functionality; features such as safety, versatility, reliability, and efficiency are intrinsic values.
5. Time Values
When it comes to brand values, time is also an important factor to consider. How has the brand's image changed over time? Is it evolving with changing tastes and trends? Some brands have rich and long-lasting histories; others are upstart brands with less than ten years under the belt. Either way, history is a big deal when it comes to brand equity. Today's consumers want reassurance that they're getting more of what they like. They can find this reassurance by looking at the brand's history. If the brand has been around for decades, likely, its image today is not far off from how it began.
Benefits of Defining your brand values
The reason why you need to define your brand values is that they're essentially what gives your brand its personality. It makes it unique and differentiates it from others in the same market or industry.
Defining your brand values will make a huge difference in how people perceive you. People are naturally drawn to brands that exude confidence, trustworthiness, and authenticity. They'll be confident enough to feel that your brand is willing to stand up for them; that it's brave enough to take a stance that goes against the status quo.
They'll trust you because they know where you're coming from, what your goals are, and what direction your brand will go in the future. They also feel safe and secure knowing that they can depend on you to protect their interests, no matter what.
And your brand's authenticity will be proven with every interaction because people will see how you are consistent in everything you do – from the type of product or service you offer to what message you send out through social media and marketing campaigns.
For these reasons, brands need to define their brand values as they are also powerful competitive advantages that will help you build a sustainable brand with strong relationships with your customers.
The bottom line is that it's not enough to offer great products or services anymore. You have to show people who you are. And this means communicating core values and creating consistency throughout your brand.
Why do you need to communicate your brand values?
New research shows that companies that communicate their brand values build more sustainable brands with stronger relationships and greater profitability.
1. It makes your brand easy to understand and remember
The better your brand is defined, the easier it will be for consumers to recognize it in the marketplace. Brands are so powerful that they often become synonymous with a product or service, and people can have great difficulty distinguishing between different choices. You don't want your brand to become a generic term for the product or service it offers.
2. It increases your brand recognition
When consumers recognize a brand right away, they will also be more likely to remember it in the future when other options come up – this increases your brand recognition. When you have a strong brand, consumers' confidence in the value and quality of a product/service will increase even if it means paying slightly more for it.
3. It allows customers to connect with your company
By defining how the customer experiences the brand and what actions they take when interacting with it, you give them a chance to connect with your company. They will be more familiar with what you do and how you can improve their lives if they can form a personal connection.
4. It directly impacts sales
A value proposition that is applicable, clear, and appealing to the target market could result in increased sales due to positive word-of-mouth from existing customers or new customers.
5. It helps to create stronger customer relationships
Because you have figured out what is unique about your brand, you can better understand how to interact and communicate with customers. This allows you to become more efficient in contributing value to the lives of your existing and potential customers. You are also able to establish loyal clients who will buy from you because they value your brand and its distinctiveness.
6. It helps capture a bigger share of the market
Experiencing success in building up a unique position for its brand could present an advantage over competitors that do not have this uniqueness, especially when customers are dealing with similar products or services. If your company can create brand values that can emerge as a leader in the market, you can have more opportunities to gain loyal customers and clients. As we all know, this is an advantage worth taking since it is hard to get back once lost.
7. It provides your company with greater strengths
It would be easier for your company to differentiate itself from other competitors if they all had the same brand values. This is because brand values serve as a guide to let people know what your company's identity stands for, and what you have to offer. If you do not define what you stand for as a company and what differentiates your business from others, it would be hard for potential customers to identify with your company. For example, if you were a high-end fashion brand but had the same values as a mid-range retail shop; it would be hard for potential customers to feel that buying from your brand is worth the price they are paying.
8. It creates a sense of belonging for its employees
If all within the company are on the same page about what your brand stands for, it creates a sense of shared identity within the company's employees. This encourages them to hold up their end of the bargain and provide excellent service to customers because they feel that it is in line with their values as well.
A clear set of brand values also shows employees how important they are to the brand, and that they will be respected for their contributions. Employees who feel like this are incentivized to work harder and create more value for the company, which makes it a win-win situation.
9. It attracts people you want to reach
People who share similar values as your brand are most likely going to be attracted to your brand. This is because they here feel like this: "hey, I am just like you! Come be a part of my team!"
A set of clear brand values also attracts the people that will most likely become your customers. People who share your values are more likely to share similar interests and/or attitudes as well. This means that they can most likely identify themselves with your brand as well, which will influence them to choose it over the competition.
10. It avoids miscommunications
When you have a set of clear brand values, you prevent miscommunications that may arise from not having one. For example, if your employees do an activity that is against one of your core values, you will have a clear and solid answer as to why they are not following their company's mission.
Having a set of brand values makes things easier to understand. It allows everyone to know what is expected from them when it comes to the brand image.
What are the steps to define your brand values?
Brand values are the intangible qualities and characteristics of your brand. It is what makes you unique among your competitors. Brand values will influence how people perceive you, which in turn, will make them choose to do business with you or not.
Below are the steps you can use to create your brand values:
Step 1: Create A Brand Values Statement (BVS)
The first step is to create a BVS that identifies the brand values of your company. A BVS will provide you with a clear sense of how you would want your customers, clients, or partners to perceive and experience your brand.
Step 2: Set Your Corporate Identity Attributes (CIA)
Your CIA is the fundamental characteristics, qualities, and attributes that will be used to describe your brand. This is highly dependent upon your BVS but it might include words like innovative, dedicated, customer-focused, quality-driven, or honest – just to name a few.
Step 3: Create and Align All Company Assets to Your Brand Value
Your CIA is applied across all brand touchpoints and all your company assets must be aligned to reflect these CIA. This includes the design of your logo, your business cards, stationery, advertisements, or any other form of promotion that you make use of.
Step 4: Create an Action Plan for Alignment to Your Brand Values
Your brand values are only as important as the actions you intend to take to make them work for you. For example, if your brand values include being dedicated and committed then you will have specific objectives and key performance indicators which indicate how well you are delivering on that commitment. This action plan should be a part of an overall marketing strategy.
Tips and Strategies to define your brand values
Brand values are an important part of your brand and are something that you will need to define to allow the rest of your marketing team to understand how they should be helping your brand to grow, help you to understand what your brand stands for and where you want to be going with it.
Some of the tips that you can follow in determining your brand values may include collecting information from your customers individually to get a better understanding of what your brand means to them. This is important because you want to understand what attributes people feel your brand possesses that make it better than other brands.
There are also several questions that you can ask yourself to get some ideas of values that might be important for your brand. Some examples may include: Does my brand have a purpose? Is there something that I believe in and is it doing something that will create a positive change? What does my company stand for? How do you want people to identify with your brand and what do you want them to feel when they think about it? How do I make my brand values known to my customers?
Brand value examples
Brand values are defined as the beliefs that consumers have about a brand and its products or services. It is worth noting that these values can be perceived by all of the senses. This means you may experience your values through sound, sight, touch, and smell and it is this ability to evoke an emotional response for customers which makes them so powerful.
For a clearer point, below are examples of brand values by various brands. These are from large multinational companies wherein they were able to use the power of their brand values successfully.
Apple Brand Value
An innovative brand that produces visually stunning and technologically advanced products. Apple successfully communicates its brand values in all of its materials – including its corporate website. The overall design and layout of the page give a feel for the company as well as a sense of trustworthiness (which is essential to any online business).
Coca-Cola Brand Value
Another strong brand that is consistently able to communicate its brand values well is Coca-Cola. All of the elements that make up their homepage are a reflection of what they have come to represent – fun, happiness, and family/friendship. The layout also allows users to easily navigate through the page as well as helps emphasize the use of graphics over text for information to be more visually appealing.
Nike Brand Value
Nike's homepage does a great job of explaining what they offer – shoes, clothing, and sporting goods. It also includes an aspect of encouragement by telling users how "You can let the whole world know about your thing with Nike." In terms of brand values, they center around determination. That is what makes Nike a strong brand.
BMW Brand Values
BMW lists its brand values as follows: Freedom. Driving Experience. Individuality. That is what makes a BMW a BMW. Furthermore, BMW also provides an example of their values in action on their website.
BMW also has a clear design strategy, as well. Their designs have a timeless feel to them and they carry over that design feel across most of their lines, especially the sportier lines. BMW's brand values are at the heart of the customer experience.
For your brand to be successful in getting customers through your doors or online, you need something different that sets you apart from the rest. Your brand values need to be put into action through your marketing communications for people to notice and ultimately buy from you.
You must have a clear understanding of what your brand is all about. Most importantly, it has to be something that you believe in and something that reflects the mission statement of your company. Brand values need to focus on trust as one of your brand values. Trust is the most important thing in today's world, especially when it comes to spending money and giving personal information online or over the phone.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Brand values can be difficult to uncover. They are just that, values that you hold dear or important to your brand and business. For a better understanding, below are some frequently asked questions.
How do you establish brand values?
When establishing brand values, one of the first things to do is to evaluate your strengths. These are characteristics of your operations/company that people (customers) recognize as being unique.
You can create a list of your brand values and while creating one, you can categorize them in groups of two or three brand values that are related and similar to one another. The more you can list, the better off you will be. The key though is to make it manageable. People typically only recognize up to 10 brand values of a company.
What are brand values and why are they important?
Brand values are the expected behavior of your company towards its stakeholders. Having strong brand values will ensure that you have a consistent image across all your customer touchpoints and they develop trust in your brand.
These values give an idea to prospective customers about what you stand for, what beliefs are part of your core competencies, and how committed you are to satisfying customers.
When your brand is consistent, it becomes more credible and trustworthy. Think about how you feel when you are buying a product of an organization that values its customers or one that doesn't take care of its clients. The former gives us a sense of security whereas the latter gives an impression of insincerity which can be potentially damaging to the brand.
What should your brand value be?
Your brand value should be a reflection of the essence of your brand. It should strengthen your brand equity and increase customer loyalty. This should be something that differentiates your brand from its competitors and should represent the culture and values of your company.
A strong brand value gives you a competitive edge in the market, sets high customer expectations, increases trust in your customers towards your brand making it easier for them to buy products/services from you. These are all because of one thing which is brand loyalty and the high brand equity that comes with it.
Essentially, your brand value should be different from other brands. If there is a lack of uniqueness in your brand values then it would not differentiate itself from brands in the same industry. It will also have no real meaning because brand values aren't what you say they are. Instead, your brand values should be what you can demonstrate through the actions of your organization.
What are brand value and its significance?
Your brand value is the worth/price of your brand. In essence, brand value comes with reputation and trust in the eyes of customers. It is what makes people buy from you instead of from other players in the market.
It also affects how much profit (or loss) you get because it is a factor for pricing strategy and overall customer behavior.