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What are brand values and how to define them

Whether you operate a store on Main Street, online, or both, you create a brand reputation with your customers and prospects. But what are brand values, and why are they important? Brand values help define your company’s actions and messages and include the guiding principles that drive your brand’s culture, vision, and mission.

However, defining brand values can be challenging, and doing so requires careful planning and thought. In this guide, we’ll explore how to define brand values, why they’re important, and the benefits of having brand values to position your brand to be a leader in your industry.

What are brand values?

Brand values are the fundamental beliefs that a company’s leadership and team stand for in their operations, industry, community, and the world. They're shared ideals that the team has adopted and chosen to represent. For example, diversity, sustainable sourcing, precision, and many others are critical values for various types of businesses.

The brand values constitute the meaning that the company wants its work to have. Therefore, your brand values should reflect what’s fundamentally important to you and your organization. Of course, brand values can only be defined by the consistency of their application over time. So, to be brand values, those beliefs must shape the brand guidelines for all strategic planning and communications.

Why are brand values important?

Standing out from your competitors by building a reputation for honoring your business’s core values can be very powerful. In today’s market, consumers prefer to do business with brands that share their values, which means you need the representation of your company to be one with which your target audience can identify. With that said, there are several reasons why brand values are important, including:

  • Establish a strong brand identity: Your brand identity is the impression you leave on your customer, and include the attributes that make you stand out among your competitors. By living your brand values through your daily operations, you can forge a strong brand identity and bond between you and your audience.
  • Guide decision-making: Brand values serve as a guidepost for internal decision-making that helps align employees and stakeholders toward a common goal. In turn, everyone within your organization will work toward the same values and objectives.
  • Differentiate from competitors: The values you hold your brand to can help you differentiate your company from competitors. When you have strong values that your audience identifies with, they may be more willing to turn to your products or services, even if they’re similar to your competition.
  • Engage and retain employees: Brand values also play a critical role in employee engagement and retention. If your values align with your employee’s personal values, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose in the work they do, resulting in an increase in engagement and loyalty.
  • Build trust with customers: The importance of branding goes beyond logos and color palettes. Intentional branding with defined brand values helps instill trust in customers. Through your brand values, you can attract like-minded customers who align with your brand’s values and share similar perspectives, which can foster a strong sense of loyalty. In fact, 77% of customers purchase from brands that share the same values as them.

What are the benefits of brand values?

Brand values help increase brand equity, which is the customer perception of a brand. But that’s not the only reason why organizations should focus on defining their brand values. Other key benefits of brand values include:

  • Build brand loyalty: Your brand’s values help create a strong emotional connection with your customers. When defining your brand values, brand consistency is crucial, as it can help your customers know what to expect from your brand, leading to increased trust and recognition, which can lead to repeat purchases and advocacy for your brand.
  • Strengthen brand reputation: Brands with strong values are often perceived as more authentic. By consistently showcasing your values through your actions, you can help your brand build a positive reputation that fosters trust and credibility.
  • Attract the right customers: Clearly expressing your brand values can help you attract customers with similar perspectives, building a community of like-minded and loyal customers.
  • Attract the right talent: Not only do your values make it easy to attract customers who share your values, but talent as well. With a team that stands behind your brand values, you can build a workforce that’s committed to the success of your organization.

How do you define brand values?

Brand values are crucial to the success of any organization, but defining them can be challenging when taking individual perspectives, priorities, needs, and attitudes into account. To help you get started, here are some steps your organization can take on how to define brand values:

1. Gather internal and external feedback

To begin the process of defining your brand values, gather feedback from various parties, including leadership, stakeholders, employees, and customers, on your brand perception. Gathering feedback can be as simple as conducting surveys or through more analytical approaches like interviews or social listening, which is the process of analyzing what people are saying about your brand online.

2. Host a brainstorming session

After gathering your feedback, assemble a team to brainstorm a list of brand values that best align with your organization’s mission and identity. Your brainstorming session can take various formats, such as participating in an open discussion or having team members write a list of the top 5 or 10 values that come to mind when thinking of your company’s brand.

3. Spot themes and patterns

Once you’ve created a list of the top brand values, the next step is to pare down the list to the top values that align the strongest. There’s no set number for the amount of brand values to have, but a general rule of thumb is anywhere between five and ten values. During this step, you can identify themes and patterns to narrow your list and finalize your winning values.

4. Define brand values

Now that you’ve created a list of brand values, it’s time to define each value with statements that reflect the essence of each value with language that aligns with your brand’s tone. When defining each brand value, use language that is authentic and memorable to make the biggest impact.

5. Communicate brand values

With your brand values defined, the next step is to communicate them to employees and stakeholders through examples of how those values will guide decision-making. Create a comprehensive communication plan that outlines how to share these values, and make sure to make your values accessible to your audience, such as listing them on your “About Us” page.

6. Integrate brand values

Integrating your brand values into various areas of your business operations is crucial. Areas to integrate your values include the hiring and onboarding process, product development, customer service, and marketing strategies, such as content marketing, and ensuring leadership embodies the brand values daily.

7. Evolve and adapt brand values

Lastly, it’s imperative your values grow with your business. To ensure your brand values hold true to the core of your organization, continually assess them to ensure they grow with customer attitudes and trends. By revisiting your brand guides, you can ensure each value aligns with the current state of your company.

What are examples of brand values?

To help kickstart your brainstorming process, let’s look at some brand value examples. There are various routes you can take when defining your brand values, and below are a few common examples you can draw inspiration from:

  • Sustainability
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Social responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Honesty
  • Compassion
  • Creativity

Wrapping up: Brand values

Your customers need to believe in your brand in order for you to grow it and sustain its success over time. For that outcome, your company needs a set of core values that are clearly understood by employees as well as customers and your larger market base. To meet these basic needs and accomplish a winning strategy, keep your brand values simple and be consistent in applying them.

Bynder’s Digital Asset Management software supports brand management and facilitates organizations’ management of digital assets as they work to establish and systematize their brand values. From content creation modules to Brand Guidelines and more, our solutions can help you develop the most effective means of developing your brand voice and visual representations of your brand.