When people buy your product or service they are essentially endorsing your company values by investing, both financially and emotionally, in a shared affinity with your brand. This is something that every startup founder should know before opening the doors to their business. Why? Because brands have become personified in today’s world, and savvy consumers perceive and relate to businesses through shared values.
According to an Edelman study, as much as 77% of people choose brands which share their values. The study goes on to state that roughly 70% of consumers agree that if they perceive that a brand is placing profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever. This is because consumers are more discerning with the brands they choose to support because, not only are there so many to choose from these days, but there is also a great deal more information shared by brands. So brands need to be on point with their values to make any impact.
We live in a time of socially-conscious consumers where what your company stands for is equally important as the products and services you sell. Social media has forever changed the dynamic between businesses and consumers, creating an open dialogue between the two in real-time. People are free to let brands know exactly how they feel, which gives businesses valuable insight into the needs and demands of their audience, as well as the transparency for the world to see their behaviour and hold businesses to account.
Values explain how you do things
When businesses state what they stand for and let the message resonate in what they do, people begin to create a better perception of the brand through their shared ideals. This is why establishing your brand’s core values is important as it serves as a way to appeal to consumers on a personal level – I care about the environment, and so does this brand, therefore we can relate better and I am thus more inclined to listen to more of what they say due to our shared values, for example.
Establishing your core values early on is crucial in developing a roadmap for your business, as it serves as a guiding beacon of where you intend to go. It helps you make business decisions easier as you will be able to refer to them for guidance, for what direction you wish to take and how exactly you intend to achieve this.
Values and company culture
Your values are also the beacons that guide company culture. Your values should not only establish how you behave and projects you choose to work on, but they should also be a reflection of your core identity. Much like a person is guided by their own set of values, a company’s values should be its moral compass. You might want to think of your company values as your reason for being, which means they should both support and echo your vision and mission. If your vision is ‘bring peace to the world one cup of tea at a time’ then one of your values should probably include caring for the planet and those around you.
In other words, they should determine the way you plan to bring your vision and mission to light. They should feel like each complements the other and make it easier to achieve your goals.
How to establish your core values
Your brand values are a list of your unchanging ideals which are not determined by passing trends and are not representative of a particular space in time – in fact, they must withstand the test of time. So you must establish what is unchanging about your business. Core values form the foundation of your business’s culture, which represent your fundamental beliefs. Your core values are influenced by your vision for your business.
As a leader, you must have a clearly defined vision for your business – where you are headed and why you are headed there, to begin with. When determining your vision ask yourself these questions:
- Who are we trying to help?
- How will we achieve this?
- How will our business impact the lives of others?
- How do we want to be remembered?
As an example, if your business vision is based on imparting information to every person on earth no matter their race, gender, culture or socio-economic standing, then being democratic is going to be your primary brand value, and ideas of democracy will be the vehicle for which your brand communicates.
Defining the core values for your brand will help you remain focused on achieving the goals you set out to achieve each morning. They are guiding principles which embody who you are and what you want to achieve. They help create your identity and assist in forging your own space in the marketplace.
But brand values are nothing without them being acted out. You and your staff will need to embody your brand values in order to achieve your brand vision. The way your brand and people think, act, look and communicate will always derive from the unchanging set of brand values you have established.