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How brand values shape consumer perception

PostsStrategy & planning
Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

March 27, 2024

Consistency is a small but mighty ingredient in every good relationship. It’s reliability. It’s trust. It’s comfort and understanding. And it’s as important in the world of business as it is with people. 

Brand values are the essence of your organization’s ‘personality’, helping you build consistency through every decision and interaction. They’re something you need, whether you’re a small startup or an established megabrand, so we’ve written a simple guide to doing them well. Let’s dive in! 

What are brand values?

When we talk about brand values, we’re talking about the core of what a brand represents — the beliefs, principles, and attitudes that both guide a company’s actions and shape its culture

Think of them as being like the organization’s personality. Just like person’s values influence their decisions and relationships, a brand’s values shape how it interacts with its customers, employees, and the wider community.

But why is all of this important? Isn’t it just more unnecessary documentation? 

Definitely not! Brand values form the bedrock of your brand’s identity. Identity is what makes you stand out. And standing out is what gets you customers. 

But this is about more than just bringing in the dollars. A strong brand identity extends past products and services and into something deeper and more meaningful. It’s that extra sprinkling of loyalty and goodwill that turns one-time shoppers into loyal customers — and, if you’re lucky, brand ambassadors. In short, it’s about building genuine relationships with all who interact with your brand. 

Brand values define what the brand:  

  • Is committed to 
  • Believes in
  • Won’t compromise on

Why are brand values important?

In a world where consumers are bombarded with choices, brand values offer a beacon of clarity and trust. They are the foundation for your reputation and ultimately your success. Let’s break that down.

Build trust and loyalty

Trust is important, but it’s also scarce. Consumers today are savvy — they look beyond the product to align with brands that reflect their own values and beliefs.

When a brand clearly communicates its values and lives by them, it lays down the foundation for a trust-based relationship. This trust, over time, cultivates loyalty — a crucial ingredient for long-term success.

Differentiate you from competitors

In crowded marketplaces, standing out is key to survival. Brand values help you carve out a distinct identity. 

Not just through what you sell but through what you stand for. This distinction is increasingly becoming the deciding factor for consumers choosing between brands offering similar products or services.

Guide decision making

Brand values serve as a compass for decision-making within a company. From product development and marketing strategies to customer service, logos, partnerships, and more —  these values help you align every choice with the brand’s core beliefs. 

This pinpoint alignment not only helps you stay consistent in how you present your brand (and thus how it’s perceived) — it also helps you navigate challenges and opportunities with a clear vision.

Attract talent

The importance of brand values extends internally as well. In an era where job seekers prioritize company culture and ethics, clear and compelling brand values can attract talented individuals who share those values. This synergy between an employee’s personal values and the company’s brand values fosters a motivated, engaged workforce.

Drive social change

More and more, brands are expected to be drivers of social change. Consumers are looking to support companies that take a stand on social, environmental, and political issues. 

You don’t need to be an activist — but having clear commitments and values is important. It’s not just about looking good (pay attention, greenwashers!) — customers can see through that anyway. It’s about recognizing your brand’s place in its community and the world and making it a force for good.

How to create brand values: a step-by-step guide

A systematic approach is best. Just follow these steps, and you’ll have brand values that truly reflect what your organization stands for.

Step 1: Understand your brand’s core

  • Mission and vision analysis: Begin by revisiting your brand’s mission (why you exist) and vision (what future you want to create). These elements are foundational to your brand identity and should play a starring role. 
  • Identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): What makes your brand different? Understanding your unique strengths and characteristics will help you select values that highlight these differentiators.

Step 2: Bring in the stakeholders

  • Employee workshops: Run workshops or meetings with employees across different levels of your organization. Their insights will reveal what values are genuinely practiced and believed in.
  • Customer feedback: Use surveys, social media, and direct conversations to understand what values your customers appreciate in a brand. This alignment plays an important role in building strong brand-customer relationships.

Step 3: Reflect and list possible values

  • Brainstorming sessions: Hold a brainstorming session and note down potential values. You should see some common themes start to emerge. Consider the attributes that are critical to your business success, your approach to customer service, your internal culture, and your impact on the community and environment.
  • Prioritize authenticity: Make sure the values you consider are true to your brand’s essence and can be consistently upheld. Never lose sight of your brand’s mission and vision

Step 4: Narrow down and define

  • Select core values: From your list, select a concise set (3-5) of core values. These should be the non-negotiable principles that your brand will commit to.
  • Define clearly: For each chosen value, write a clear definition. Include practical examples of how these values are or will be reflected in your brand’s actions and decisions.

Here’s an example

Value: Customer-centricity

Definition: Customer centricity means putting the customer at the heart of every decision we make and every action we take. It’s about understanding our customers’ needs, preferences, and challenges and striving to deliver solutions that not only meet but exceed their expectations. 

This value guides us in product development, service enhancements, and in the way we engage with our customers at every touchpoint.

What this looks like:

  • Product development: We involve our customers in the product development process through surveys, beta testing, and feedback loops to ensure our offerings are truly tailored to their needs.
  • Service enhancements: Our commitment to our customers is evident in our after-sales service policies. We offer a 24/7 customer support line and guarantee a 48-hour resolution time for any issues, ensuring our customers feel supported and valued.
  • Customer engagement: We regularly host customer appreciation events and create platforms for our users to share their stories and experiences. This ongoing conversation not only strengthens our relationships but also provides invaluable insights that inform our business strategies.

Step 5: Validate and refine

  • Stakeholder review: Share the defined values with a broader group of stakeholders (including employees and potentially key customers) for feedback. This step helps ensure your values ring well with those who are a part of and interact with your brand.
  • Refinement: Based on feedback, refine your values for clarity and relevance.

Step 6: Document and integrate

  • Formal documentation: Create a document that outlines your brand values, their definitions, and examples of how they are embodied within your organization. Ideally, you’ll store this in your project management tool so it’s easily accessible, and you don’t need to worry about version updates and all the other admin that comes with storing Word docs on a server. 
  • Integration plan: Create a plan to integrate these values into every aspect of your business, from marketing and customer service to employee onboarding, performance evaluations, and beyond.

Step 7: Share internally and externally

  • Internal communication: Now, it’s time to introduce the values to your team. Use workshops, meetings, and internal communication to embed these values in your corporate culture.
  • External communication: Update your marketing materials, website, and social media to reflect your brand values. Regularly share your values through engaging presentations and by highlighting real-world examples of your values in action.

Step 8: Live your values

  • Action plans: For each value, create specific action plans that outline how you will enact these values in day-to-day operations, decision-making, and strategic planning.
  • Regular review: Establish a process for regularly reviewing and assessing how well your brand and its employees are living up to these values. Be prepared to make adjustments as your brand evolves.

Step 9: Measure impact

  • Feedback loops: Create mechanisms for receiving ongoing feedback from employees and customers on how well your brand is embodying its values.
  • Performance metrics: Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your values (e.g., customer satisfaction, employee engagement) and measure them over time to assess the impact of living your values.

Some brand value examples to inspire you 

Let’s take a look at some well-known brands that have successfully integrated their values into their culture, inside and out. 

Patagonia: Environmental stewardship and sustainability

Patagonia’s commitment to environmental sustainability is more than just a part of its brand identity: it’s the cornerstone of its business practices. 

From using recycled materials to advocating for environmental conservation, Patagonia demonstrates how a brand can live its values and lead by example in its industry.

Google: Innovation and openness

Google’s values of innovation and openness have driven its growth from a search engine to a global tech leader. 

You can see these values reflected across every touchpoint, from product development and company culture to its mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Airbnb: Belonging and community

Airbnb has built its brand around belonging and community. Its platform isn’t just about booking accommodation — it’s a tool for helping users feel at home anywhere in the world. 

Through initiatives that support inclusivity and connect people from different cultures, Airbnb reinforces its commitment to these values.

Zappos: Delivering happiness and customer service

Zappos has become synonymous with exceptional customer service. The company’s focus on delivering happiness through amazing service has led to a range of innovative ideas, including its 365-day return policy and a company culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction above all.

Ben & Jerry’s: Social justice and equity

Ben & Jerry’s is a brand that has long been vocal about its commitment to social justice and equity. 

From its product names to its activism and community engagement, the company uses its platform to advocate for change and support various social causes, showing just how well a brand can use its voice and resources for the greater good.

Tips for success

Here are some tips to help you effectively define, communicate, and embody your brand values. 

Be authentic

Reflect on your brand’s true identity by choosing values that genuinely represent who you are and what you stand for. Authenticity connects more deeply with everyone, customers and staff alike.

Be sure to steer clear of generic buzzwords like ‘innovation’ and ‘cutting edge’. Opt for values that are meaningful and specific to your brand’s mission and ethos.

Engage your team

Turn your team into brand value ambassadors. Involve them in the refining and defining process — their engagement will help to bring these values to life.

Consider setting up regular training sessions to help employees fully understand and embody the brand values in their daily work.

Align values with actions

Make sure your brand aligns with every aspect of the business, from internal operations to customer interactions.

Set up regular reviews to make sure your actions consistently match your words. Adjust as you go to stay on the right track.

Communicate effectively

  • Use storytelling to bring your values to life. Share examples of your values in action to make them relatable and engaging.
  • Be transparent about your journey, including both wins and setbacks. This honesty builds trust.

Embed values in your brand strategy

Let your values guide important business decisions, both internally and externally. This will help ensure every choice you make reinforces your brand identity.

Incorporate your values into all aspects of your brand messaging and marketing materials, and make sure they’re visible and clearly communicated across every corner of the organization. 

Evaluate and evolve

Regularly review your brand values to make sure they still align with your mission and the expectations of your audience. Be open to evolving them as your brand and the world around you change. 

Final thoughts 

Brand values are not another marketing gimmick. They’re the essence of a brand’s identity and its relationship with the world.

Whether you’re a startup laying your foundation or an established brand re-evaluating your direction, investing time and thought into your brand values is not just important — it’s essential. To make the job as seamless as possible, use project management software to keep teams and stakeholders aligned. It’s a simple way to integrate your brand values into every area of the business while managing the rollout project from one central hub. Give it a try for free today! 



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