Brands are a lot like humans. They have personality. That is why we notice them and that is why we are able to relate to them. But in order to have personality with integrity, one that is consistent and stands out, you need to have clear values. If brand values are not examined and made clear, the message your brand sends will be mild, unclear, and imperceptible, and there will be nothing tangible for your audience to relate to.

However, brand values carry a lot more than just a personality. They are inherent in the business model and visible through all business channels. They are written in your business plan as a set of beliefs and principles that guides your company as you do business, and they indicate the exchange of values between the business and the customers.

Brand values have an impact on all stakeholders of your firm from customers to investors. They influence customer buying decision and affect your sales and profits. They can help leaders and management guide teams through ethical and performance concerns thus keeping the company on the rail in any problem.

Saying that values can help us guide our team in problematic situations seems a bit unrealistic, but let’s see how well-defined brand values work for us in practice.

Clif bar is the great example of highly successful value-based brand. It’s a family and employee-owned company that produces energy bars for athletes and active people.

Founders Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford set up 5 core principles that guide their business and shape their entire business model. Those principles are: sustaining their business, sustaining their brands, their people, their community and the planet.

Those core principles are interwoven through every aspect of the company, from choosing a supplier to making working conditions for their employees. Clif bar founders would go pretty far to show clear message to their audience, to resonate their values and keep trust they’ve built.

For example, when looking for a supplier of ingredients necessary for their products they would look into how those ingredients were produced. If they know that production of that ingredient is not sustainable they would move on. Sometimes that means purchasing more expensive products to keep their message clear.

To build a value-based brand means to pass all your decisions through the filter of brand’s values. If they don’t align with brand values, you don’t put them in action.

Once brand values are defined and examined, they have the power to provide innate guidance and influence of brand choices. Each time a brand has a decision to make, whether it is to hire a new employee or conduct a new marketing campaign, the brand must filter these choices through the lens of the brand values and goals. This is the main difference between a sustainable brand and an unsustainable brand.

Lack of defined values doesn’t mean that no values are visible. Most likely they appear as different and inconsistent personality through different touch points thus making brand message undefined which probably seems like you are here just to earn some money.

Our personal values provide consistency and communicate reliability to the people around us. Same way, any alteration from core values changes the brand message thus influencing its integrity, a perception of the brand and possibility to be recognized. The clearer the idea about the brand the stronger the brand. Once you start using your brand values as guides for your decisions you’ll make choices more easily and there will be no doubt in your brand message.

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If you are interested to develop strong value-based brand, take a look at our workshop Design a Consistent Presence.