How to Define your brand values- and effectively communicate them with your audience
First things first, What are Brand Values?
Brand values are quite simply the things that are important to you as a brand. Also referred to as core values, they are a set of principles, the things that help guide your business decisions: from the type of clients you want to work with to the materials you source to the organizations you support.
Your values might be based around the type of services you offer or the type of products you create, the way you run your business, or they might even be the reason behind why you started your business- no matter how ingrained they are into what you do, they are important part of building a strong brand identity for your business.
Some examples of brand values could be:
- sustainability/ environmental impact
- supporting/sourcing locally
- promoting healthy lifestyle
Sometimes brand values can overlap with your personal ones: for example, supporting small and local businesses is very important to me in my everyday life (we buy as much as possible from small businesses, from groceries to coffee to gifts and everything in between) and I have also shaped my entire business around helping small businesses grow. Your brand values won't always overlap with your personal ones, but when they do it's an added bonus- it helps you care that much more about your work and the authenticity of your values really shines through.
Why are Brand Values Important?
Brand values are key in building a strong brand identity for your business. Here are three reasons brand values are an important part of brand strategy:
1. They help to set you apart from others in your industry: when you talk about what's important to you it really does help set you apart from your competitors. We all have different things that are important to us, and by stating yours loudly and proudly you'll draw in all the people who share the same values. You might offer products of similar style or quality to others in your industry, but if your business is zero waste and theirs isn't, that speaks strongly to anyone else who cares about the environment and will help sway them in your direction instead.
2. They will help to bring in a new and loyal audience: people who are likeminded, share your values and believe in what you believe in they are more likely to buy from you. Speaking about your values is a great way to generate new interest in your brand and social media accounts, and to regenerate interest from like-minded followers who haven't been engaging much with your content. Your audience will be much more invested in you and feel closer to the business if they know you share the same values.
3. They show integrity and authenticity: that for you, running a small business isn't just about creating a product or service in a certain industry- it's about doing something you believe in and care strongly about, and doing it in a way that makes a difference. When it's obvious you believe in what you're speaking about, your audience, clients and customers will feel that much more invested- and become loyal customers for a long time to come.
how do you identify your Brand Values?
Here is a step by step guide to determining what values are best suited to your brand:
STEP ONE: The Brainstorm
So how exactly do you identify the values that are unique to your business? A brainstorm session is the best way to do this: set some time aside, sit down with a pen and paper and get your thinking cap on. Here are four questions to get you started:
1. What is important to you as a person?
Take a step back and think about you as a person- do any of them overlap with your work?
2. Stop and think about what values are already in place (trust me- you've made your business decisions for a reason!)
What was your reason for starting your business?
Why did you make the business decisions that you did?
Why do you offer the products and services that you do?
Why do you source the materials that you do?
How did you determine your process?
How do you give back to the community?
3. Customer/Client Feedback
What made them buy your products or book your services?
What feedback have they shared with you?
4. In what ways do you run your business differently than others in your industry?
How are your products or services different?
How are your ideal clients/customers different?
How is your process different?
Do you source different materials?
STEP two: The fine tuning
Once you have a list of ideas to work from, start breaking them down into greater detail. Don't just say you're an environmentally friendly business, break it down further: are you zero waste? Do you source sustainable materials? Do you give back to environmental causes?
there will be others in your industry who share similar values, so get specific! The more specific, the more unique the values and the easier it will be to differentiate yourself from others in your industry.
STEP three: WRITE THEM DOWN
Once you've identified the values that are important to your brand, and defined them clearly write them down somewhere. Whether it's pen and paper, a document on your computer, or a sticky note you keep above your desk- you want to be able to refer back to these values regularly when you're creating content, developing products and services or thinking about your marketing.
Try to come up with 3-5 core values for your brand, and any other values that tie into those can be secondary.
STEP four: communicating your brand values effectively to your audience
Now that you know what values are important to your brand, you need to make sure your audience know them too. Any (and all) of your marketing channels give you an opportunity to share your brand values with your audience, your clients and your customers- it's just a matter of working them into your strategy.
You may find your website and social media content are the most effective ways to share your message, as for a lot of businesses these are the primary way of communicating with their audience.
The obvious way to share your values is to state them plainly: many businesses have a section on their website where they share their values so that they are front and centre. This is a great thing to add to your website as it shows very clearly what your brand cares about to any one who visits your site.
You can do the same thing with your social media accounts using your "about" or "bio" section too- again at first glimpse your audience can see what you believe in.
With your content, you can expand upon your values in greater detail: you can write about the things you care about in a blog post, you can create posts that highlight your values- why they are important to you and how they became an important part of your business, whether that's in the form of a written caption or in a video.
There are more subtle ways to share your values too- using the photos and videos you create. Think about what you have in the background of your images: your workspace, your tools, your materials, the posters on. your wall, the coffee cup on your desk. All of these things can allude to a value without you having to state it plainly- and you can always go into more detail in the caption you share with the image or video too.
You could share an image in instagram stories too: for example, sticking with my value of supporting small and local I might share the coffee and sandwich I picked up from my favourite indie cafe, or the veg box delivery I received from my local greengrocer. These 'behind the scenes' glimpses into your day to day are great at showing your audience that you don't just talk the talk, you walk the walk too.
Engage with other content that promotes similar values. Join in other people's conversations- not just the ones you start- and soon you'll be a recognizable name in all the right circles.
feeling stuck on your brand vAlues- or unsure of how to communicate them ?
An experienced, outside perspective can really help to identify the values that are true to your brand and help you create a strategy for effectively communicating your message to the right audience.
Get in touch for more information about 1 to 1 brainstorming sessions or brand strategy sessions (two heads are always better than one!) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out my contact form below.
Click here to learn this info in podcast format (with more examples and details).