July 19, 2021
Discovering and defining your core values is a vital part of brand building. Once your values are crystal clear, it’s far easier to create branding that truly represents your business and its goals.
Essentially, brand values are the values a company aligns itself with. This could be anything from adventure and playfulness to sustainability and progress. These values give purpose to the company’s dealings, shape future courses of action, and determine its outward perception.
For example, Disney built its empire around the creation of happiness through magical experiences for children. These values are reflected in all aspects of their branding, down to Disneyland’s tagline: “The Happiest Place on Earth”.
When people think of Disney, it’s those core values that come to mind. They associate Disney with fun and childhood wonder, because Disney places such emphasis on those values in its branding.
Within your company, having a set of established values helps both you and your employees. It is especially useful during the decision-making process: when choosing a course of action, you can refer back to your values and ensure you’re making choices that correspond with your brand’s message.
Core values also help with employee engagement - when employees feel they are working towards a greater purpose, they’re more productive and less likely to switch to another company.
Outside of your company, brand values shape the perception others have of your business. 71% of customers prefer buying from companies whose values align with their own; defining your core values lets potential customers know that you agree with their views and share their goals. Explicit values humanise your brand, increasing its authenticity in the eyes of the public. They also help keep your brand consistent.
There are two important aspects to consider when looking into your brand’s core values.
The first is making sure they harmonise with your business’s practices. It doesn’t make much sense if a security alarm company tries to emphasise values of fun and imagination, because those don’t mesh well with the products they sell. People looking for security alarms don’t want fun - they want to know if their alarms will keep them and their families safe from danger. Values of reliability and safety are far more relevant. On the other hand, a company selling children’s toys would find the earlier values much more suitable.
The other thing to consider is how important the values are to you and other members of your company. Think hard about what matters most to you. Is it honesty? Dependability? Innovation? Note these down, and consult your colleagues on what matters most to them too. It’s vital the values your business stands for are ones you all hold dear, as you can then be confident you’re working towards a worthy goal.
There’s a mistake businesses often make. They go through the process of defining their brand values, write a page on their website about them, then forget they even exist.
Your brand values shouldn’t just be buried in your website; they should be at the forefront of your branding. Whenever a new advert or logo design is being drawn up, the first step in your process should be finding out how you can integrate and centre your values within the design.
Take your colour scheme, for example. Is one of your values environmentalism? Consider a colour scheme of greens and browns, reflecting the natural world. Do you value technological developments? Try modern blues and whites.
Another facet to consider is brand voice. A brand that values excitement and thrill-seeking should use a youthful, enthusiastic, and bold tone, while a brand that values tradition and heritage should be more serious and conservative in their language.
There are plenty more design elements to consider - probably more than you think!
Of course, the most important thing is making sure your business decisions align with your values. If your focus is on community and family, you could sponsor a charity that provides support to vulnerable families. If you value sustainability, make sure all of your product’s packaging is biodegradable.
These actions are the best way to show your customers that you’re not just paying lip service - you truly believe in your values, and you’re willing to support them through time, money, and effort.
A great example of a company that places its core values front-and-centre is Beyond Meat, who sell plant-based meat substitutes. Their core values are sustainability, health, and animal welfare, and these values are extremely evident in their branding. They can be seen most obviously in features like their ‘Our Mission’ page, which gives an overview of their dedication to improving the environment, protecting animals, and making healthier food options, but they can also be seen in more subtle design elements, like their prominently green colour scheme and focus on natural imagery. Finally, they back up their words by using recyclable packaging, carbon neutral shipping, a sustainable production process, and ensuring their products are nutritionally complete.
Defining your core brand values is vital for tying together your brand, uniting your workforce, making informed decisions, and appearing authentic to your customers. Any time you take action, whether it’s design or business related, use your values as a guide. They will be the driving force behind your choices, and give you a greater goal to work towards.
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