Your brand values are the guiding principles that help you connect with your target audience. These five questions will help you define those North Star values that guide your business and brand decisions.
“Where are you? Why aren’t you responding? I expect you to answer my emails on the weekend.”
This was the message that I saw on Monday morning (from a potential client) when I logged into my Facebook account. On one hand, I was ashamed that I wasn’t able to respond right away. My client-centered business style told the story that I needed to be at their beck-and-call. But on the other hand, I realized what a red flag this was. She was expecting me to be on-call all the time and that did not mesh with my number one value as a brand – Family. Family first, always.
Shortly after that exchange, we decided we were not a good fit for each other and parted ways.
The main contributing factor in that decision? The fact that I understand and operate my business in alignment with Witt and Company’s brand values and her expectation misaligned with those values.
This isn’t to say that either party is right or wrong. But rather, a way to gauge whether or not something, or someone, is a good fit based on their values and yours.
Because here’s the thing – when intentionally created, brand values have the power to guide your business throughout the various ups and downs of this entrepreneur journey. And when they truly align with your purpose and vision, the values serve as a great litmus test for making decisions and determining your next right step.
In This Article
What are brand values?
Your brand values are the north star of your company; your guiding principles; the heart and soul behind your why. They have a big impact on how you connect with your audience and build trust.
Defining the values your brand stands for is similar to defining your target market. And, that line you drew in the sand when claiming who you want to work with will become even more pronounced when you start communicating what you value as a brand.
Why does my brand need values in the first place?
As humans, we naturally connect with others who share the same beliefs and values that we hold sacred. Think about the last networking event you attended and who you connected with right off the bat – it probably had something to do with finding a shared belief or quality that you could further discuss.
The same is true for the consumer-brand relationship. Consumers, community members, your audience – they connect with a brand more quickly when they find shared values and beliefs. And purchases are made when those values align and trust is established.
In addition, brand values will help you as a business make the next right step. This can be everything from whether or not to hire a contract/employee to embark on a new partnership. When you make a decision by filtering it through your brand values, you are making sure the decision is made from a place that will serve your business, rather than what you may be feeling in the moment.
How do I define my brand’s values?
Coming up with your brand’s values is not a quick 15-minute process. Since these are the heart and soul of your brand, I would urge you to spend at least a few hours going through the process of nailing down what you stand for, and why. The key point being “and WHY.” Yes, you can write a few words that sound great, but if they don’t resonate with you or if you don’t understand the why behind them, I guarantee they won’t stick. And if your plans include growing a team, training them to operate within your brand values will be useless if you don’t care about (or fully understand) the reasoning behind the choice.
- How do you want your brand to be perceived?
- What’s important about the way you run your business?
- How do you want customers to feel when they work with you?
- What keeps you working on your business, day in and day out?
- Why do you love what you do?
Clarify What’s Most Important
When you feel like you’re ready to move on, grab a highlighter and highlight any words or short phrases that stand out to you in your answers. There’s no right or wrong answer here, so don’t think too hard. Go with your gut, your first instinct. If it jumps out at you or seems important, highlight it.
Once you’re done, write all those words or phrases on a new piece of paper with some space next to each one. Go through the list and write a few sentences about why this is a value for your brand. If you are unable to come up with at least a few sentences, cross it off. You don’t have to spend too much time on this. The idea is to gain some clarity around why that word or short phrase embodies your brand.
Narrow Your Focus
Now it’s time to cut. The goal is to select three to five words or short phrases that you want to represent your brand. Like I mentioned in the beginning, this will be your north star—the guiding force behind your brand. Anything and everything you do will be centered around these values.
Sounds a little intense, huh?
Well, that’s because it is. We live in an age where, if you’re not clear on what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for, your audience can easily find someone else that has clarity. Yes, there’s a lot of competition, but that is why it’s so important to understand your values—this is what will connect with your tribe and help you build strong relationships with your community.
Define Each Value’s Why
Now that you have your words/short phrases, it’s time to dig a little deeper into why they’re important. You should already have a rough idea, so let’s go one level down.
Draw a circle with one of the words/phrases in the center and mind-map all the reasons why this matters to you. Why it’s important that this idea carry your brand forward. When you’re doing mind-mapping, put it all together in a few sentences or paragraphs. Whatever you need to clearly identify that value and the why behind it.
And if you want to go the extra step, print them out and display them in your workspace. They should be top of mind, because they are, after all, helping to guide you in building your brand.
All my best,
Have your values nailed down and now want to know how to effectively communicate them? Read this post!
If you’re wondering exactly how brand values can be used within your business, check out this post that walks through utilizing brand values to make business decisions.
Want to create a strong brand foundation for your business? Check out this post!
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