Harvard professor and market insights analyst Geral Zalton once stated that the unconscious triggers 95% of purchasing decisions. Whether this is entirely true or not, there’s little doubt that the most successful businesses are the ones that tap into the intangible aspects of their brand.
Companies like Cola and Apple have spent years projecting an image that pertains to particular values for their customers. Whether said values are “fun-loving” or “tech-savvy,” you could almost say that these brands have their own personalities thanks to clever marketing campaigns. Of course, these personalities may not endear themselves to everyone, but the brands behind them have built a loyal following based on consistently delivering on certain customer expectations.
For businesses getting their start today, however, it’s no longer enough to have a brand personality; You need beliefs and principles. For better or worse, the act of purchasing has become a moral and political act, and people now expect businesses to work to benefit society. In fact, according to vivendi.com, 77% of consumers actively choose to buy from brands that share their values. As a result, it is now essential for brands to exhibit and communicate social responsibility.
New and upcoming businesses must identify their core values and instil them into their brand message and business operations. Doing so will not only help brands to speak to customers on a personal level but, as we’ll see, bring a multitude of benefits for the business itself.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- What a core value is
- How core values improve brands inside and out
- How to identify and write your businesses core values
- How to implement your core values into your marketing strategy
What Is a Core Value?
You’ve probably heard press releases from brands discussing how certain actions align or don’t align with their ‘core values,’ but what exactly do they mean by this? After all, the word value gets thrown around a lot in business and marketing. As we’ve seen, value sometimes equates to a brand’s characteristic, and you’ve likely heard the phrase “value for customers” as well.
When brands talk about core values, they often equate it with their company’s morals and principles. In essence, a core value is a principle or belief that a Brand or Business views as being of crucial importance. The concept can seem like a strange one. After all, brands aren’t people. They’re entities. Such terms can sometimes be quite suspicious, especially when discussing larger global firms, which may or may not have our best interests at heart.
Still, core values are essential to good business practices and are especially crucial for smaller businesses. People are more aware of their spending habits than ever before, and they want to know that they can trust who they are purchasing from. We only need to look at examples from current events, such as the covid pandemic, global warming, and various wars and conflicts to see how a company’s actions (or inaction) can change public perceptions of them. Studies show that companies acting on strong principles and guided by their core values during tough times will often fare better than those who only act in their own interests. The Exception is companies or organizations using core values for self-promotion. Core values should be genuine, and a true reflection of the brand’s ideals and principles or people will see through them and think of your company as dishonest.
Core values aren’t about directly selling anything to customers. Instead, they serve as an intangible force – an affinity – that helps customers identify with brands personally. In addition, they are a promise to customers and employees regarding how the brand will act and react to any situation. As such, they should never be taken likely.
How Core Values Improve Brands Inside and Out
According to Accenture’s 2018 study, consumers are no longer basing their purchasing decision only on price and availability, they are also assessing what a brand does, says and believes in, and reject brands with clashing values. In other words, people want to buy and work with companies that share their principles, so having core values compatible with your target market will attract the right type of customer, employee or partnership.
Core values help foster relations between brand and customers, but they also clarify purpose and choices throughout all business operations.
The result is a brand that can:
– Assess opportunities and partnerships: A brand with deeply ingrained core values will be able to assess the quality of new working relationships beyond their potential monetary value. As a result, they will be less likely to commit to short-sighted and poorly thought-out agreements.
– Employ better employees: By keeping core values top of mind, businesses will be able to seek and vet the attitudes and values of potential employees. The result is a company culture built around shared values that will benefit both the brand and employees.
– Improve the morale of employees: Studies show (citation needed) that employees who feel that their values are shared by the company they work for are better motivated and more productive.
How to Identify (And Write) Your Brand’s Core Values
A core value must first and foremost be authentic. Customers today are better informed than ever, and if you pretend to be something you’re not, they will rightly call you out.
Your brand’s core values will ultimately be unique to your business. That said, your core brand values will do well to have the following characteristics:
– Unique: They should help the brand stand out from its competitors
– Actionable: A brand value that cannot be acted upon is useless.
– Achievable: If the brand action is not achievable, it is not really actionable.
– Clear: The brand value should be easy to understand if the customer is to relate to it
– Universal: If the business wishes to grow, the brand value should cross cultural boundaries, both local and national.
How to Implement Your Core Values
Ethical marketing starts with ethical choices, and for brands to connect with audiences, core values must be consistent throughout one’s business. Therefore, not only should your branding be compatible with your values, but your employees and business actions should also pertain to your core values.
If you do practice what you preach, you have every right to brag about that. In fact, for the sake of your business, you really should.
But how do you get the word out there? Well, here are four ways to incorporate core values into brand marketing:
1. Share Company Culture Stories
We’ve all seen those videos of customers being rude and obnoxious to employees just trying to do their job. But the truth is, most people feel better if they know that the people behind the brand they’re doing business with are happy and engaged with what they do.
A company with principles and a shared vision among its employees is often happy. So share some of that passion and drive behind what you do in your marketing. As a bonus, you’ll probably become a more desirable employer too.
2. Provide transparency
The best way to show you care is to prove it, and the easiest way to prove it is to be transparent about how your business operates. From your manufacturing process to your supply chains to how you train and communicate with employees, showing transparency in everything you do will build trust in your customers.
3. Pursue positive actions
Whether it’s giving something back to your community or raising funds for a good cause, pursuing positive actions is another excellent way to implement your core values. But, again, this isn’t a case of trying to win brownie points with your customers but doing something meaningful that resonates with those inside and outside the business.
4. Empower Customers
Customers can be your greatest brand advocates if you give them the tools. Interviews, testimonials, and case studies can spread the word about your excellent work and how you do it.
Building your business around core values and principles will result in better decision-making, stronger customer relations, and happier employees. Furthermore, by making these core values integral to your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to hold your head high above the competition and form genuine connections with those you do business with.
Branding Services for Small Businesses
Your brand is one of the ways consumers differentiate you from the rest of the pack. Having a solid brand that aligns your target audience with your business goals is critical to your success. We at Yasmeen Creative specialise in helping Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs in creating tailored Brands that align their business goals with their target market, helping you connect with your audience and rise above your competition.
We are a full-service London branding agency that focuses on start-ups and small businesses with big ambitions. We offer value, experience, free support, and a personal team that adjusts its approach according to your preferences.
Whether you need new branding, complete rebranding, or a simple brand strategy, turn to Yasmeen Creative today. Contact us at +44 20 451 90 900 for your free 30-minute consultation.