What are brand values, and how do you define them?

Your brand is more than just a logo, slogan or colour palette—it’s the embodiment of your business and how it makes people feel. If you want to create a successful business (and I’m assuming you do), it’s important to understand what drives your company to succeed. And these values are defined by what you believe.

So why is it so important to define your brand values?

Because they help you:

  • Build a solid foundation for your business
  • Attract and retain loyal customers
  • Recruit top talent
  • Build a strong company culture
  • Deliver on customer expectations

Brand Values are the foundation upon which all your marketing efforts can be built. Some would argue that they should come before any marketing decision. Yet most startups never bother to define their brand values at all. Or worse, they simply look at the colours in their logo and use those as a basis for the brand values. Bad idea.

Defining your brand values creates a clear connection between your brand and people’s expectations about that brand. They help people to recognize your product/company with a single word.

Getting started on defining your brand values

The first step in defining your brand values is to sit down with all key stakeholders from your business and do some brainstorming about what you want your values to be. There are no right or wrong answers here—let yourself explore what’s important to you about how you want the business run, what you expect from your customers and employees, and how you want the community around you to perceive and engage with your business. Don’t worry too much about organizing this information yet; just let it flow!

Talk with your team

Your employees will have a deep knowledge of the company, the industry and its customers. This initial exercise can be done in a group setting or individually, depending on company size. Send out some questions for them to answer about their personal views of the brand, such as:

What words would you use to describe the company?

What do we do that sets us apart from our competitors?

What are our company’s greatest strengths? Weaknesses? What opportunities exist? What threats do we face?

Review customer feedback and research

It’s important to gather customer feedback to understand how they perceive your brand. Ask your sales and customer service departments to share any recent feedback they have received from customers, including any complaints or suggestions they’ve made. You could also send out surveys or question

After you’ve had a chance to really explore what matters most from every angle, take a look at the list of priorities that have emerged. Do they overlap? Are there a few key ideas that seem to be shared by everyone in the room? Start thinking about these themes as the core values of your brand—they should be the guiding principles behind everything.

You can now use your findings to define your brand values.

  1. Define your brand’s purpose.
  2. Consider who your customers are.
  3. Define the core values of your brand.
  4. Write down and prioritize the values that best represent your brand.
  5. Write a creative brief for design and development teams.
  6. Use your values to create consumer personas.
  7. Decide which channels will allow you to communicate your brand message best.
  8. Revisit over time

If you have a solid understanding of your brand and can confidently articulate it, it’s great! However, it’s naïve to assume this is an end unto itself. Brand values are worth keeping up-to-date: they need to be constantly defined and articulated in order to have a life of their own. It’s always nice to have the tools but remember that much work goes into defining them.

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