Blah, blah, blah, blah….
We’ve all heard it a hundred times, the same regurgitation of buzzwords that are meant to be true ‘values’ of a business. But how can a value (which is meant to be unique to your own business) be the same as so many others?
The list of values above is actually from BMW. Think about that for a second… a leader in automotive excellence having the most generic brand values out there. If you spent 10 mins searching for corporate brand values, I’d bet money you would find dozens more with the same (or very similar) set of values.
What is the point of having values?
Having a core set of values and driving principles should really be something that defines you as a business, and not simply words you think your customers will nod along to.
They should be a true reflection of your ideals, ethos, culture and view on the world. But these can’t be faked. If you say one thing and act oppositely, your customers are going to quickly pick up on that and it can seriously hurt your brand image.
Equally, if you are true to what you say and your customers can identify themselves in your core values… you’re on to a winning recipe.
Having (real) values and living those throughout the business, from every employee to delivery of each service or product can create strong brand loyalty. With loyalty (unsurprisingly) comes repeat business as well as advocates for your brand. Letting your customers be your sales team is the most powerful way to sustain growth.
Think outside the box
While your values should tick a few standard boxes:
- Be actionable
- Be meaningful
- Be clear and defined
- Be timeless
They shouldn’t fit into the bland box like BMW’s do.
Here are a few examples of powerful brand values
- Be fun (but responsible).
- Give value for money (never be cheap).
- Offer quality and attention to detail (but not at the cost of affordability).
- Innovate (be willing to take risks).
- Competitive challenge (be ready to respond to customer needs).
- Customer service (always hire professional, empowered people capable of giving a great experience).
The Honest Company
- Create a Culture of Honesty
- Make Beauty
- Service Matters
- Sustain Life
- Be Accessible
- Pay it Forward
- Fanatical Support in all we do.
- Results first, substance over flash.
- Committed to Greatness
- Full Disclosure and Transparency
- Passion for our Work
- Treat fellow Rackers like Friends and Family
Hopefully it is obvious, but if you compare the above to the generic values of BMW you will see a dramatic difference in how they are written, and hopefully convey a completely different feeling when you read them. They pull you in, they are unique, interesting and tangible, and give you a real sense of how the business operates.
Beyond expected values
Values are critical to the overall success of building a business. Why would you not spend the time to articulate them right? Even if what you truly value is ‘integrity’ (which is a very important value and virtue in a business), this is pretty standard among so many others.
Consider what the basic expectations of your customers are… would you really expect someone to buy from you if you didn’t have integrity? This is just the bare minimum. When you buy a car, you expect it to drive, but you don’t see adverts for cars showcasing the benefit that the car drives… Your values shouldn’t be the ‘expected values’ of engaging with your business.
Part of the bigger picture
Values are part of the bigger picture of your overall brand. Your positioning in the market, identity and messaging are all linked together. While you shouldn’t think of values in isolation, they can stand alone as a guiding light in your business.
Make them integral, embed them into employee reviews, post them on the walls of your office. These values bleed through everything else. They have the power to change your business when they are lived and breathed. They won’t do it on their own, but with the right blend of branding and promotion they can be the definitive factor in your business’s success.