Values are the precious center of any brand, a guide from which everything else—your look and design, your voice on social media and through your materials, how you interact with your customers—shines. Not only are they a reflection of your business, learning to identify, nurture and express your values makes them precious on your pathway to successfully connecting with your target audience.
Make a list
Think about some brands you like and reflect on what draws you to them, both aesthetics-wise and tone-wise. Is it their sense of humor in their tweets? Their retro wave graphics? Their awareness of current events? Familiarity when they send out a newsletter that makes you feel like part of the family? Their slick logo? What are you attracted to, in a brand? How can you bring those feelings to your brand?
You can also do this the opposite way: think of brands you don’t like and what those bad experiences were. Maybe their content feels very monotone. Maybe it doesn’t reflect your politics. Maybe you don’t like how casual they are when speaking to customers. Write that all down, and then think of what would be the opposites of those things that didn’t elicit a response from you or your team.
Both of these will help you narrow down more unique values than “good value”, “reliable”, or “good customer service”. That will be a useful building block for what you center when building a site and figuring out your best practices.
Fine Tune Your Focus
Pick 3-5 values from the above list that you consider your top priorities, the values that guide your decision making. Add a sentence or two beside each value that explains why this is important to you. You don’t want to have too many or you’ll have a hard time really communicating these values! Consider words/phrases that encompass your values more effectively and encourage clear action – instead of “diversity”, for example, consider “promote marginalized voices” or “encourage feedback”. Instead of “accountability”, consider “lead by example”.
Who Is Your Brand?
If your brand was on a dating website, what would their bio look like? How would they encourage someone to connect? Narrowing down who you are and who you want to attract into a couple of sentences will help you decide on what really matters and what you want to stand for. What’s your speed-dating summary that reflects what you’re about? Keep it focused on a few things you really want to highlight as the face of your business.
From there, you should have a mission statement you can then boil down into a motto that sums up your brand in a catchy, succinct way. Make sure your mission statement speaks to your current customer base while also exciting new folks! This is where you can really inject some personality into your brand that highlights your values.
Speak Out and Grow
Now that you have an idea of your values and how to voice those values, be public about them! Taking a stand within your ads and social media establishes your dedication to those values and allows them to expand among your audience. Put your money, literally, where your mouth is, through donations and collaborations. Don’t be afraid to be actively involved in helping those values be centered in the communities you serve. Use your platform to recognize those who are embodying those values in the world. Collaborate with thought leaders also discussing those values.
5 Company Values and How They’re Implemented
“Provide a better everyday life for people”
Swedish furniture company IKEA centers this value by not only making sure their offerings are good quality yet affordable, but also by ensuring their workers feel empowered, trusted, and a part of the process. They also regularly win awards for being one of the best places to work for LGBTQ equality.
“Create unity by hiring and serving people of all backgrounds”
Red Bay Coffee is a Black-owned coffee roaster who roasts their coffee in Oakland, CA. Roasting their own beans makes it easier to make sure that their desire for hiring people traditionally pushed aside in the world of coffee—Black and brown folks, formerly incarcerated people, women, and people with disabilities. Led by owner Keba Konte, they also host accessible community events, including ones where folks can discuss and learn about economic development and empowerment.
“Offering affordable financial services for all”
OneUnited Bank is America’s largest Black-owned bank, and they consider financial literacy in the traditionally underserved Black community and closing the racial wealth gap an important part of their values. They specifically focus on serving low and middle-income communities, making sure there are available ATMs in Black neighborhoods, and helping Black folks rebuild their credit in a non-predatory way.
“Analysis with skin in the game”
Blavity, a Black-owned media company focused on speaking to Black millennials, embodies this value by employing a majority of Black millennials across the board, from their founders to their content creators. Thus, the brand and the content reflect the brand’s value – content created and marketed by the people it’s for.
“Just do it.”
Nike became well-known for centering this value when they signed Colin Kaepernick during his (unfortunately) controversial protest kneeling against police brutality. Not shy to put a spotlight on doing the right thing in their ads, Nike also tends to put the consumer in the place of a hero, encouraging the viewer to be moved to act.
By Shane Lukas, Creative Strategist for A Great Idea