The Power Behind Brand Values

by Joe Pelissier on January 24, 2011

Albert Einstein - Man of Value

"Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value"

Today, brand values are not perceived as important.  The instant gratification of the internet has led to them being discredited and misunderstood.

Such is the rush to get your message out or to secure a transaction, the values behind the message disappear, or, even worse, they are non-existent.

Internet Marketing has a lot to answer for in this respect in that it is brash, fast and relatively young.

If you were to ask most internet marketing companies about their brand values, they would probably admit to not having given them much thought.

Simon Middleton, the brand expert says, ‘Brand is about meaning – nothing generates and supports meaning like values‘.

He’s right.

And with meaning comes purpose – what is the business purpose behind what you do?

Your Brand Values in 2011

In 2011, brand values are set to become extremely important and influential. And, if the value of what you do is communicated digitally, it’s essential you know what they are.

Think for a moment of the brand values of the high-street banks… they are in tatters, non-existent.  Which is why various plans are afoot to break the big ones up and give them smaller, cosier identities.

I suspect most people, if they could find a bank with a good set of brand values, would happily change accounts.

All businesses, departments and teams need a set of values.  Ones that are

  • Distinct – so that they stand out from the crowd
  • Authentic – they have a real sense of credibility
  • Compelling – you want a part of them

There is a high chance you have never given serious thought to your brand values.

And, when you do, words such as ‘honest’ and ‘world-class’ may suddenly spring to mind. But these are not really values.

The former is typically pedestrian. After all, what type of business doesn’t aim to be honest? The latter is more of an unreaslistic aspiration; said to impress, perhaps?

True brand values require a bit of soul searching – especially if you want to stand out from the crowd and avoid bland derivatives.

If you have never considered your brand values, 2011 and the ‘age of austerity’ is the time to start.

This is because more and more consumers are driven by value and they are suspicious of rich, empty promises.

The definition of value is very simple: a concept or principle that actively guides your behaviour and decision-making.

Very Quick Brand Values Audit

Ideally, you should spend a good couple of hours on this. But, if you want a quick audit of brand values, I suggest the following:

Take 10 minutes to list all the values that you believe are true to your organisation.

Against that list, ask yourself the following 5 questions

  1. Is this value genuine? Is it honestly important to me and my brand?
  2. Will the value mean anything to my customers? Is it more likely to make them do business with me?
  3. Does the value help to make me distinct as a brand? (This is possibly linked to your Unique Selling Proposition.)
  4. Can the value be brought to life in the way I and my colleagues behave?
  5. Am I willing to fight to preserve this value?

Delete any from the list that don’t stack up and see what you have left. These are the ones you must start to cultivate.

Organisations that have a clear set of brand values tend to stay around longer than those that do not (banks excepted, of course). The values are sustainable and they are linked to a common purpose.

One of my brand values is Tried and Tested.

It means that 80% of what I write about or teach on my courses, I have done or experimented with.

It means that I avoid peddling a theory or idea I have not explored or tried myself.

I think of it as the Delia Smith Principle. Every recipe in her books has been ‘tried and tested’ on numerous occasions. This automatically gives amateur cooks, such as myself, the confidence to give it a go.

To help give real meaning and clarity to your brand and the values you aspire to, have a read of  Simon Middleton’s book ‘Build a Brand in 30 Days’.

As you will see, I have openly filched some of his thinking for this post.

I had to tell you this because ‘approachable’ – another of my brand values – and ‘openness’  are linked to it…

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