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What are Brand Core Values?

Brand Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a business or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people running the business understand the difference between right and wrong. Brand Core values also help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide. (Source)

Like individuals, companies, and brands too should have a set of brand core values that stand as the guiding principles of how the brand would behave consistently in all situations.

Just as they enable people to differentiate between right and wrong, brands too would know how to behave in the right manner and keep up the brand promises that they make to their customers.

Brand core values play an important part in a company’s brand strategy and for creating a unique and robust differentiating factor.

What brand core values are NOT?

Brand core values are not descriptions of a brand’s product or service

They are not operating practices, business strategies, cultural norms or competencies of the business. They are principles that govern customer relationships, guide our business processes, clarify what the brand is all about, articulate what the brand stands for and help explain why we do business the way we do.

Brand core values are not marketing slogans or taglines. They are not there to make your brand look cool or to attract customers. They are real reasons that your brand exists for.

They are not words that can be thrown around easily. They are an integral part of your brand promises and must be held with the utmost respect.

Brand core values are not operating practices – which are the methods of operating a business or providing a service. It includes the daily practices that a business observes in order to ensure the safety of process and employees. (source)

Core values are not business strategies – which is sometimes defined only as a firm’s high-level plan for reaching specific business objectives. Strategic plans succeed when they lead to business growth, a strong competitive position, and strong financial performance. When the high-level strategy fails, however, the firm must either change its approach or prepare to go out of business. (source)

Core values are not cultural norms – which are the standards we live by. They are the shared expectations and rules that guide the behavior of people within social groups. Cultural norms are learned and reinforced from parents, friends, teachers, and others while growing up in a society. (source)

Core values are not competencies – which are abilities or attributes, described in terms of behavior, key to effective and/or highly effective performance within a particular job. They are applicable across a range of jobs, unlike specialist or technical skills which may be job specific.

How can brand core values help?

Core values help brands make the right decisions

The ones that benefit the brand and it’s customers in the long term instead of short-term gains that may ultimately hurt the brand.

For instance, when evaluating entering a particular market segment, if one of the core values goes against issues that are related to that market segment, then the brand does not enter that market.

If a core value has to be compromised or deleted for the sake of short-term gain or profits then it is not a core value at all. Compromising core values will lead a brand to disaster – sooner rather than later.

Brand core values clarify what the brand is all about

It is not just about the products or services or making money. A brand should go beyond these things. It should stand for something. And core values define what it is that your brand stands for.

Standing for something that goes beyond revenue and profit is the hallmark or brands that stand the test of time.

Core values articulate what the brand stands for

This does not change no matter the business situation, the economy and so on. The articulation enables customers to align the brand with their world view.

Articulating what your brand stands for is the foundation of a great messaging strategy.

How do you determine your brand core values?

To determine if your core values are robust you have to start with the following questions: 

  • Have we identified the specific, measurable objectives for our brand and how each objective links to the overall corporate vision? – This would help you come up with a list of attributes that align with the overall corporate vision. Then compare these attributes with the list you have come up with to see if they align.
  • Can our brand objectives be summed up in a simple, yet informative, brand mission statement? – Compare the mission statement with the set to see if they articulate the mission statement.
  • Do your core values align with your brand promise? – Often your core values and brand promise can be the same.
  • Do your core values align with your brand story? – Watch out for any disconnect in your story. This can lead to your brand looking very inauthentic.

Examples of common brand core values

In case you are wondering what some of the common core values are for brands out there, here is a brief list:

  • Dependable – Committing to provide a service or product in a robust and reliable manner
  • LoyalLoyalty is highly valued in the business world
  • Open-minded – This plays well with having a great culture in the business
  • Consistent – People love consistent brands
  • Honest – Something that is seriously lacking in many brands today
  • Efficient – If embraced to heart, this will enable a brand with brand positioning
  • Innovative – This one will ensure the brand is always ahead
  • Creative – In any market segment, companies that embrace creativity come out on top
  • Humorous – Brands are there to serve people so why not do it with humor?
  • Inspiring – Being inspirational is quite an attribute
  • Passionate – An overused word
  • Stewardship – Taking control of legacy and showing the way forward
  • Integrity – A much-needed value for any brand
  • Genuine – Is there really any other value that brands should to aspire to?
  • Empathy – Quite a difficult value to own but could have great results
  • Responsibility – Ensures the brand contributes positively to the world
  • Leadership – Not to be told in words but rather in deeds
  • Collaboration – If communicated correctly can form a great impression
  • Diversity – Something a lot of the new generation relate to
  • Humility – A very tough one to implement and could be a double-edged sword as it hinders marketing campaigns that try to position a brand
  • Community – Every lifestyle brand needs this value
  • And so on…
Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.