What are values? They are your beliefs. They are part of your core. They are key identifying details about who you are as a person, and what you consider to be important, worthy, or true.
You have your own individual values, but your brand should have a set of values, as well. Your brand’s values might start out as an exact mirror of your personal values, but as your brand grows, develops, and evolves through your offerings and your interactions with your customers, your brand’s values may evolve as well. Let’s take a deeper look at values.
Values stand at the very core of your brand. They’re the center from which everything radiates—including your brand’s look (design), message (voice), and relationships (customer service).
Why does your brand need to have values? Why is any of this stuff important? “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” -Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
If you want to create deep and meaningful relationships with your customers that last for years, bringing you repeat business and increasing the success of your brand, you need to clearly define your brand values so that your audience can have something to connect to. Something to stay loyal to.
A lot of things sound “nice” or “noble” when we think of them in theory. But choosing standard values like “timely,” “reliable,” or “trusted” won’t help you stand out from the crowd in any significant way. There’s no real feeling or emotion behind these words other than that they sound “nice.”
“Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence their brands acquire no texture, no character.” - Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
If your customers were asked to describe your brand in just 2-3 sentences, what would they say about you? What would you want them to say about you?
When you’re promoting your business in any way (through your website, customer service, advertising, etc.), you need to clearly call out the 2-3 values that you want customers to know about you.
Let's take a look at Apple:
“To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.” – Steve Jobs, 1997
Apple Core Values (1981)
One person, one computer.
We are going for it and we will set aggressive goals.
We are all on the adventure together.
We build products we believe in.
We are here to make a positive difference in society, as well as make a profit.
Each person is important; each has the opportunity and the obligation to make a difference.
We are all in it together, win or lose.
We are enthusiastic!
We are creative; we set the pace.
We want everyone to enjoy the adventure we are on together.
We care about what we do.
We want to create an environment in which Apple values flourish.
Apple’s Core Values under Tim Cook:
We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
We believe in the simple, not the complex.
We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
Steve Jobs used a lot of “we are” phrases, while Tim Cook talked mostly about what “we believe.” In reading either list, it’s easy to see what Apple, as a company, puts value on. They value making good, simple products. They value teamwork. They value creativity. But they found more interesting ways to say those things. That’s what your values statement should be!
Next week we will look at the sixth and final tier of the brand pyramid: your raw story.