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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…

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we identify and articulate our brand’s core values in a way that resonates with our target market?

Identifying and articulating your brand’s core values in a way that resonates with your target market is crucial for the long-term success of your business.

This process involves several key steps:

Understanding Your Brand: The first step is fully understanding your brand’s representation. What are its purposes, its strengths, and what makes it unique in the marketplace? For example, your brand might promote eco-friendliness and sustainability if you are a sustainable clothing company.

Identifying Your Values: Once you understand your brand, the next step is to identify the values that drive it. These guiding principles influence your decisions and behaviors as a business. A sustainable clothing company’s core values might include sustainability, ethical production, and high-quality products.

Knowing Your Target Market: It is essential to understand who your customers are and what they value. If your target market is young, environmentally conscious consumers, they will likely value brands that align with their sustainability and ethical production values.

Articulating Your Core Values: After identifying your core values, you need to express them in a way that connects with your target market. This could be through a mission statement, company slogans, or messages on your website and marketing materials. For instance, the sustainable clothing brand could use slogans like “Fashion with a conscience” or “Clothing for a greener future.”

Aligning Your Actions with Your Values: Lastly, ensuring your company’s actions align with your core values is crucial. This builds trust and authenticity with your customers. For example, if one of your core values is sustainability, you could demonstrate this through using recycled materials, reducing your carbon footprint, or partnering with environmental organizations.

Identifying and articulating your brand’s core values is not a one-time task. It requires constant evaluation and iteration. Consider using frameworks like the Brand Value Pyramid, which provides a structured way to align your brand’s functional, emotional, and social benefits with your core values.

Additionally, don’t forget to gather feedback from your target audience through surveys, focus groups, and social media engagements. This allows you to refine your values to keep them relevant and resonant.

In what ways can our brand’s core values guide decision-making and problem-solving in our business operations and strategy?

Your brand’s core values aren’t just words on a page; they’re a fundamental part of your business’s DNA. They can influence every aspect of your operations and strategy, guiding your decision-making and problem-solving in several significant ways:

Decision-Making: Core values act as a compass for your business, guiding decisions at every level. When faced with difficult choices, your core values can help you choose the path most aligned with your brand’s identity. For example, if one of your core values is customer satisfaction, you might opt for a policy of easy returns, even though it might initially be costlier.

Problem-Solving: When challenges arise, your core values can provide a framework for finding solutions. They help ensure your approach to problem-solving aligns with your overall brand. For instance, if transparency is a core value, you might address a product issue by communicating openly with customers about what went wrong and how you’re fixing it.

Employee Behavior and Culture: Core values shape your company culture by defining the expected behaviors and mindsets. They can guide how your employees interact with each other, with customers, and even how they solve problems. For example, if innovation is a core value, employees might be encouraged to think creatively and take calculated risks.

Strategic Planning: When setting long-term strategies, your core values guide what your business should focus on. They help ensure your strategic goals align with your brand identity. For example, if sustainability is a core value, your strategies might include reducing waste or sourcing more sustainable materials.

Customer Engagement: Your core values can help guide how you interact with your customers and shape their experiences. If community involvement is a core value, your engagement strategy might involve local events or partnerships with local organizations.

Product/Service Development: Your brand’s core values can inspire new products or services, ensuring they align with your business’s identity. For example, a restaurant might include vegetarian or vegan options if health and wellness are core values.

For an advanced framework, you might consider the “Values-to-Action” approach. In this method, you identify how each core value impacts a specific business area (like decision-making, problem-solving, etc.) and then develop action plans to integrate those values into day-to-day operations. Remember, the key is to ensure your core values are not just statements but living, breathing aspects of your business guiding you in every decision and strategy you undertake.

How do we ensure that our brand’s core values are consistently communicated and upheld in all our marketing efforts?

Ensuring that your brand’s core values are consistently communicated and upheld in all your marketing efforts is key to building a strong, authentic brand. Here’s how you can achieve this:

Clear Communication: First, clearly articulate your core values. Every team member, especially in marketing, should understand these values. Hold workshops or training sessions if necessary.

Value Integration: Next, integrate your values into every aspect of your marketing. All your content should reflect your core values, from your ad campaigns to your social media posts. For example, if one of your core values is ‘innovation,’ showcase how your product or service is innovative in your marketing content.

Consistent Messaging: Ensure that your messaging is consistent across all platforms. Communicating your core values should remain the same: your website, your Instagram page, or an email campaign.

Authentic Storytelling: Use stories to communicate your values. Stories are a powerful tool in marketing and can be a compelling way to showcase your values. This could be how your company was founded, case studies from satisfied customers, or behind-the-scenes looks at how you uphold your values.

Visual Elements: Utilize visual elements that align with your core values. Your brand’s logo, color scheme, typography, and other design elements should communicate and reinforce your values.

Live Your Values: Practice what you preach. Your actions should align with your words. For instance, if sustainability is a core value, your company should follow eco-friendly practices.

Consider using a ‘Brand Value Map for a more advanced approach.’ This framework can help ensure your brand values are central to all your marketing strategies and tactics. It lets you map each marketing activity and evaluate how it aligns with your core values.

Finally, remember to review and reassess your efforts periodically. Use metrics to measure how effectively your values are being communicated and resonate with your audience. This might include social media engagement, customer surveys, or brand perception studies.

What strategies can we employ to align our brand’s core values with customer expectations and build stronger customer loyalty?

Aligning your brand’s core values with customer expectations and building stronger customer loyalty involves understanding your customers deeply and creating a brand experience that consistently delivers on your promises.

Here are some strategies to help achieve this:

Understand Your Customers: Conduct market research, surveys, and focus groups better to understand your customers, their values, and expectations. This can help you identify how your brand’s core values intersect with your customers.

Customer-Centric Values: Ensure that some core values directly address customer needs and expectations. For example, if your customers value fast service, then “timeliness” or “efficiency” could be one of your core values.

Communicate Your Values: Consistently communicate your core values across all customer touchpoints. This includes your website, social media, advertising, packaging, and customer service.

Deliver on Your Promises: Your actions should align with your values. If one of your core values is reliability, ensure your products or services are dependable. When customers see that you uphold your values, they’re more likely to become loyal supporters.

Personalized Experience: Use your brand values to provide a personalized experience. If one of your core values is ‘caring,’ you could show this by remembering customer preferences or sending personalized messages.

Engage and Involve Customers: Create ways for customers to participate in your brand values. For example, if sustainability is a core value, you could run a campaign encouraging customers to recycle or participate in a tree-planting initiative.

Consider using a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) framework to guide these strategies. This tool helps identify and communicate the unique value your brand offers customers compared to competitors. It includes elements like parity, points of difference, and customer insights, which are crucial in aligning your brand’s core values with customer expectations.

Remember, the goal here is to attract customers and turn them into advocates for your brand. When your values align with your customer’s values, and you consistently live out these values, customers are not only more likely to stay loyal, but they’re also more likely to promote your brand to others.

How do we assess the impact and effectiveness of our brand’s core values in shaping our corporate culture and driving business growth?

Assessing the impact and effectiveness of your brand’s core values in shaping your corporate culture and driving business growth involves qualitative and quantitative measures.

Here’s how you can go about it:

Employee Surveys and Feedback: Regularly solicit feedback from your employees. This can be anonymous surveys, town hall meetings, or one-on-one reviews. Ask specific questions about whether they feel the company lives up to its stated values, how those values influence their work, and any suggestions for improvement.

Customer Surveys and Reviews: Ask customers for their opinions too. Customer reviews and surveys can give you insight into whether your brand’s values resonate with them and if they perceive your brand as aligned with them.

Observation: Look at behaviors within the organization. If your core values are truly shaping your culture, you should see it reflected in how people act, how decisions are made, and how problems are solved.

Business Metrics: Monitor key business metrics. If your values are effective, they should contribute to improved performance. This could be in terms of increased customer loyalty, reduced employee turnover, improved brand reputation, or increased sales and revenue.

Benchmarking: Compare your business against others in your industry. This can help determine if your core values are giving you a competitive edge.

To facilitate this process, consider implementing a Balanced Scorecard approach. This strategic planning tool allows you to translate your brand’s core values into tangible goals and metrics. It focuses on four key areas: financial performance, customer knowledge, internal processes, and learning and growth. This can provide a comprehensive view of the values driving your business’s success.

Also, consider applying the Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology. It’s a tool that measures customer loyalty and can give you a sense of whether your brand’s values resonate with your customers.

Remember, evaluating the effectiveness of your brand’s core values is not a one-time task. It’s an ongoing process that should be integrated into your business review and strategic planning cycle. It can take time to see the results, but the insights gained can be invaluable for your business’s growth and success.

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.