Discover your brand values and build a loyal tribe of customers

by Jessica Lurel

Do you know why you prefer a brand over another? How do you make that decision?

Discovering your brand values could influence your prospects to choose you over the competition.

Let's dive in.

Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor, states that 95% of our buying decisions are made in the subconscious mind.

We might do our research and look at reviews before buying. But despite what we might believe most of our decisions are not driven by logic.

Which explains why I insist on buying an expensive hair dryer that makes virtually no difference compared to regular ones.

So how can you, a marketer or business owner reach the subconscious mind of your prospects?

You tap into their emotions. Emotion is the greatest force of our subconscious.

Us humans are emotional beings. We decide with our hearts first and our heads second.

And how do you trigger the right emotions in your prospects? Through your behaviour. And your brand's behaviour is determined by your brand values.

Values and emotions are intertwined. Let’s see how:

Brand values determine your brand behaviour which in turn, influences your prospects’ emotions.

For example, one of Nike’s core values is inspiration. This core value is demonstrated in their tagline “Just do it”, their ads and their actions. Through their app and running club, I feel encouraged.

I believe in a better athletic version of myself. And because of that feeling, I bought into the brand. As a customer, I feel empowered.

So how can you influence your prospects to choose your product over the competition’s? How can you be chosen and seen as the right brand by your prospects?

Before we discover what your brand values are, let’s define what brand values are and why they are instrumental to your business.

What do we mean by brand values?

Brand values are internal guiding principles. They’re like your moral DNA. Your brand's behaviour is determined by them.

Just like you and I, brands have their principles that help them evaluate what is crucial or not, in the way they function.

It's like a compass that helps a brand navigate difficult choices and stick to their core beliefs. Even in times of intense pressure and uncertainty, brand values help guide the brand in the right direction.

  • Brand values are the skeleton of your brand’s psyche.
  • Brand values are a key component of your brand’s identity.
  • Brand values inform your business decisions.
  • Brand values are magnets that attract the right customers.

Although brand values are an intangible asset with no specific metrics to measure ROI, they shouldn’t be ignored in your brand strategy.

For example, 90% of Generation Z trust brands that share their values and stick exclusively to them. And 77% of customers prefer to buy from companies who share their values.

It’s a sizeable chunk of the market, don’t you think? Discovering your brand values sounds like a worthwhile investment.

Common values are key to attracting your ideal clients.

Brand values are an essential branding tool.

. Business is personal.

Customers buy into a brand partly because of how it makes them feel.

Brand values are signals that show your ideal clients that you’re the right fit for them. They help you get personal with your prospects.

When we make a buying decision we take into consideration how brands behave. Look at the most recent brands’ boycotts: Balenciaga and Pepsi among others.

For example, the pub chain J.D. Wetherspoon suffered backlash during the pandemic, after stating it would receive government support and would delay paying wages.

On another hand, Ben and Jerry, the ice-cream brand took a clear stand in 2017 to push for marriage equality in Australia. To support their stance, they banned selling two scoops of the same flavour in 26 of their Australian stores.

If marriage equality is a cause close to your heart, you’d certainly buy from the brand to support this common conviction.

How you behave has an impact on your profit.

. Honing your brand values gives you a competitive advantage.

Nowadays a company is not just about its products or services. You need an additional element that extends beyond the functional to stand out.

“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

With competition becoming more and more relentless, embodying your core values can help your business get the attention it deserves. They help you position yourself in your prospects’ minds and hearts.

We tend to gravitate towards people who share the same values as us. And it’s the same with brands.

Your brand values are like magnets to your ideal customers.

For instance, a clothing store that values sustainability can create a brand identity that will appeal to a conscious consumer.

Your brand values are the foundation of your brand personality. As you personify your brand, it helps you connect on a human and more personal level with your prospects.

They help you express your personality, how you approach and see life. And therefore, they help you stand out on the market.

Your brand values repel the wrong clients and attract the right ones.

Be yourself. Your competitors can’t steal your personality.

Make your brand stand out by being true to what it is and what it stands for.

On the soft drink market we can see how each brand manages to differentiate itself from one another.

Coca-Cola is about excitement, community and sincerity. Fanta has a bubbly and positive personality. By incorporating these values into their communications and actions, they strengthen their position on the market and in the minds of their customers.

Brand values build a strong brand from the inside

. Strengthen the company’s culture

Discovering your brand values gives you an internal compass. They inspire employees to work in the same manner and direction. Having strong brand values in place will align your employees’ behaviour with the company’s goals.

For example, Microsoft's core value is productivity which is expressed as: “We want to help people be more productive in their worlds”. It transcends beyond their product. It encourages people to think outside the box.

When you manage to clearly express your brand values, you are able to rally people around them. The right talent will also come to work with you.

Your strong internal branding will be reflected on the outside through coherent communication and action.

. Makes it easier for you to make decisions

When you discover your brand values, you understand who you are and it is easier to know what you should do or not do. You have already established what’s significant to you. So you know what to prioritise and how to move forward.

This internal compass will guide your everyday actions.

How to discover your brand values

They can’t be imagined. Simply brainstorming a list of words won’t do it. They come from your actions and beliefs. They have to be true to the core of your brand.

They shouldn’t be determined by your audience. You shouldn't let your friends or romantic partner decide who you should be. It’s a recipe for disaster. You can’t adjust your personality to the person you’re dating.

It’s the same with branding. Otherwise your brand will have zero stability and coherence.

A strong internal brand is built internally and not externally.

To build trust between you and your prospects, your brand values have to be consistent.

Brand values are tricky to figure out. It’s nearly impossible to be objective when you’re so involved in your business.

To define your band values, consider these prompt questions:

  • What motivated you to start your business?
  • How do you want to serve your customers?
  • What experience do you want them to have with you?
  • How do you want them to feel?
  • What’s not negotiable
  • What is it that you can’t stand in business? What would you never do?

But also observe how you do business over the course of a day. What guides your decisions? What do you prioritise?

What words did you use to describe your values?

Now let’s turn this one word into a sentence that is specific to the way you behave.

If you use one word such as honesty or innovation, it falls flat and feels inauthentic. You have to own your brand values.

When you develop a sentence around the value, it makes the value actionable and specific to you. That’s how you become more personal and engaging.

Let’s look at some examples.

One of Ben and Jerry’s core values is respect. They turned this single word into a statement: “We strive to show deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.”

Coca-Cola has leadership as a brand value. They came up with a specific sentence that says a lot about them as a brand: “If it’s to be it’s up to me.”

Do you see how it gives depth to the one word you started with?

So how can you put your own spin on your value?

Demonstrate your brand values.

The previous exercise helps you to "show not tell". People don't believe words, they believe actions.

I can’t just tell people I value perseverance. Nobody will believe me. But if I share with them a story of me doing competitive rowing, waking up at 6 am on the weekends, training on the water for hours in the rain or the snow, to compete at one of the best-known regattas in the world, they would be more inclined to believe me.

A value is expressed through action. They have to be lived. Your behaviour must reflect them.

"Values are things you do. They have to be actionable” Simon Sinek

Nike took a huge risk with Colin Kaepernick ’s controversial campaign. It featured the message: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything". It was a reference to Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality.

The risk paid off. Nike’s stock price soared and reached an all-time high. They had some detractors but they attracted their ideal clients in the process. Nike's success proved that even in the face of criticism, staying true to their values was the winning strategy.

Include your values in the content and stories you share.

Turn your values into story and content prompts. Doing this can help expand your content marketing strategy, as your values become buckets or pillars for your content.

For example, Red Bull is all about feeling energetic and living life to the fullest. These values are the foundation of their Instagram content strategy. They share content that the audience is keen on: extreme sports, concerts. It demonstrates the values the brand and customers have in common.

That's how they attract their tribe.

Your brand values can help you refine your content strategy.

Values are like a branding tool that helps you sell to your ideal clients and differentiate in the market. It's such an inexpensive investment that it would be a shame not to capitalize on it.

What are your brand values and how do you use them to connect to your prospects?


Bring your brand stories to life

Bring your brand stories to life