Last month we began to get under the skin of your brand. Having clarified your business ambition vision, brand objectives and brand promise it’s now time to look at your brand values and traits, two key elements of your brand strategy which should be evident in all touchpoints of your brand.
Brand Values are the standards and principles your brand lives by. They are at the very core of your brand and define what your brand stands for. They are the fundamentals of your brand. You will not compromise on your values no matter what obstacle the brand faces. You must be prepared and be happy to live by your values in fifty years’ time. This is a big commitment, so spend time identifying your key values. Brand values help guide all decision making in the brand. Examples of brand values include quality, honesty, and integrity.
Brand values should be evident across your brand from your employees, customer service, client relationships, brand messaging, products and services. They help build brand engagement and brand loyalty. The CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz captured the significance of brand values when he said: ‘If people believe that they share values with a company then they will stay loyal to the brand.’
Perhaps one of the best ways to understand brand values is to look at the values of some of the most well-known brands. For example, Apple’s Steve Jobs said their core values were that ‘we believe people with passion can change the world for better.’ Lego’s brand values also come as no surprise: try and identify any area of its brand which doesn’t portray its values of imagination, creativity, fun, learning, caring and quality.
Some tips for establishing your brand values: Pick no more than three to four values. When identifying your brand values remember you must live them day in, day out. It must come naturally and be relatively easy to live on a daily basis. Some brands, understanding the significance of brand values, come up with creative ways to ensure they are memorable for those working in the brand. For example, Hilton Hotels use its spelling to communicate their values of hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, ownership and now (now being the hotel’s ability to react to their customer needs immediately).
Brand traits are the set of characteristics attributed or associated with your brand. They are your brand’s personality. Examples include sincerity, passion, loyalty, innovation, and flexibility. As with values, brand traits must be evident across all touchpoints. You must be able to live your brand personality consistently. They must be evident in your staff, your brand space, brand message, the look and feel of your brand identity online and offline e.g. you marketing and advertising campaigns, digital marketing etc. As with your values you should pick three to four traits. One key piece of advice when identifying your brand traits is to be true to your brand. Don’t be trendy if you’re not trendy, don’t say you’re quirky if you are not quirky. Self-acceptance and self-confidence is one of Dove’s key traits which is evident throughout their brand. It’s a fundamental part of their advertising campaign, Campaign for Real Beauty. Dove always portrays women as they are in real life and always feature diverse women and not models in their campaigns. In doing so they are consistently living their brand values.
Like with anything to do with your brand, spend some time working on your values and traits. Bring your team on board. If you’re not sure which particular values and traits suit best, always ask why would you pick one value or trait over another? Prioritise time and then pick the brand’s top values and traits.
It is only now, having established the key elements of your strategy that you can begin to look at your brand identity. So in next month’s issue, armed with the key elements of your brand strategy, we look at how it can help you create your brand identity.
Article by: Sandra Honan
Sign up to the TLM Newsletter