In this guide we are going to provide you with all the information you need to understand how brand values form part of a bigger brand strategy. We explore some of the most common questions surrounding brand values. We provide some insight which will help you to define your own brand values. We look at a client example and how we helped them to define their brand values. We’ve also then taken some time to find good B2B* and B2C examples.
*Business to business | *Business to consumer
Common questions around Brand Values
We are going to review some of the most sought after questions regarding brand values. Here is the list of questions that we intend to provide some insight into.
- What are brand values?
- Why are brand values important?
- What are brand values examples?
- Who determines brand values?
What are brand values?
A brand will determine a number of values that helps to underpin and support what the brand believes and stands for. Brand values help to define culture, identity and personality. They help to shape decisions and actions which ensure you remain authentic and in alignment to your brand strategy.
Why are brand values important?
Brand values are important because they help to determine and define your brand purpose. Brand values are important for your team because it helps them to understand what is important to the company they work for. The values help to empower them to adopt the culture of the business and ensure any decisions they make within their respective positions align with the values of the company.
Imagine for a moment that you are a specialty coffee brand and a core brand value is that you believe wholeheartedly in a sustainable future for specialty coffee.The brand value in this example would be ‘sustainability’. Any decisions you make that go against this will have a significant impact on the culture and future success of the brand.
For customers they are equally as important. As customers we naturally align ourselves to brands that we share values with. Ultimately brand values are what enable us to make a human and emotional connection to our customers. To become a great brand you need to win over the hearts and minds of your customers. Brand values will help you to do just that.
What are brand value examples?
The image above provides a comprehensive list of brand values that businesses use to pick from to determine their own brand values.
For the businesses that see this as a tick box exercise they really are missing out on the huge impact brand values can have on the success of their brand and business. Many of us will have a brand we are deeply passionate about. Take a moment to think about a brand that you couldn’t live without and think about what it is that makes you really love that brand. The key thing to note here is that you will have all thought about a brand instantly and notice we are using words like ‘love’ and statements like ‘couldn’t live without’.
As a brand you have the ability to determine values that help to build emotional connections with your customers. A bi-product of this is that you start to gain trust and loyalty with your customers. Trust and loyalty are two key attributes that are required to build a successful brand and business.
Who determines brand values?
Brand values are often defined by a founder or Co-founder of the business. However, when starting a business many owners shift and prioritise their focus to product or sales (the day to day business implementation). When it comes to the brand they really prioritise what they believe they need at that time. It will be no surprise that for many any brand related tasks tend to be associated with creating a website and brand identity.
As a business evolves and grows, many business owners feel that their brand doesn’t reflect the quality or level they’ve reached as a business. At this point the brand usually comes under review in far greater detail. Branding workshops can help create the clarity you need to start defining your brand and shaping a cohesive brand identity that then helps to align your brand to your products or services.
At this stage of a brand’s development the brand workshops are more collaborative in their approach and usually involve key decision makers and other members of the C-suite. E.g. Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)
“It’s about values, it’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us ”
(In reference to Brand + Marketing)
This is how we helped Lumiere Consultancy to define their brand values
As with all of our clients we started with a branding workshop which would help us to define the Lumiere Consultancy brand. The key outcome of our process is to gain the verbal and visual clarity required to understand and position the brand for future growth.
Verbal and visual brand clarity enables our clients to create a cohesive brand image which in turn helps their brand evolve and grow.
To help Lumiere Consultancy define their values we first needed to understand what they believed in and what really mattered to them. As we learnt more about Ben (company founder) and what really inspired him we understood that for him food is all about people and that food can really be the foundation of genuine happiness.
With an understanding of the brands core purpose we worked with Ben to understand what really mattered to him and the Lumiere Consultancy brand. We managed to select and define the following values:
Dedicated to better restaurant experiences
Inspired by global culinary experiences
A desire to achieve always
These 3 brand values have helped to provide Ben with a clear direction and line of thought when it comes to any decision he makes with his brand. They underpin the brand’s core purpose and have really helped his business to grow.
Brand Values Examples:Spotify Brand Values
Many of us will recognise the distinctive green of the Spotify branding but what values do they stand for as a brand. Having done some research Spotify’s core values are as follows:
These are the brand values that are in place to guide and shape the future of the Spotify brand. When these values are understood and aligned with the company’s mission and vision for the future of the brand it becomes much easier to navigate the way forward.
If you are a Spotify user you will notice how the values above impact the user experience (UX) of the app, design features and ultimately how they communicate as a brand. In the last 12 months we’ve seen ‘innovative’ features such as highlight reels of our most popular songs, playback minutes, most featured artists compiled into an animation within the app. More recently a request from Adele to remove the shuffle button from the album playback shows a sincerity and willingness to collaborate with artists so that music and the overall experience can be delivered in the way it’s intended to.
Brand Values Examples: Bloom & Wild Brand Values
Bloom & Wild launched in 2013 and have fast become Europe’s leading direct to consumer flower delivery brand. Bloom & Wild has been built on the following brand values.
We sweat the small things so that our customers and those who matter to them don’t have to
We take time to truly connect with people, it keeps us humble, focused and innovative
We seek and find moments to create memorable joy
We aim to create experiences, products and services that have lasting value for our customers
We only create products and experiences we are proud of, things we ourselves would delight in using
Bloom & Wild first appeared on our radar at Grey Coffee when we heard about their ‘opt out’ Mothers Day email campaign. They took a moment to think about the thousands of people that may have lost their mum and may not want to receive marketing emails regarding Mothers Day. The result was a great success and it showed that by putting their customers first and actually having the care and attention to think about this situation it really paid off for their brand.
18,000 customers opted out of the campaign and were very quick to voice their gratitude for this campaign across social media channels. We believe the ‘Mothers Day Opt Out’ campaign was so good that it has set the trend in which we’ve seen many other brands adopt this approach. Bloom & Wild are a brand that really do act on their values.
Brand Values Examples: John Lewis & Partners Brand Values
John Lewis & partners is a brand of luxury or high-quality department stores. The stores are located across the UK with a number of international stores also. Founded over 100 years ago the John Lewis brand values have evolved as follows:
We act with integrity and use our judgement to do the right thing.
ALL OR NOTHING
We put everything we have into everything we do.
GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE
We put more in, so everyone gets more out.
BE YOURSELF. ALWAYS
We’re quirky, proud and at our best when we are free to be ourselves.
WE NOT ME
When we work together anything is possible.
For anyone that has visited a John Lewis store you will know that the overall brand experience is really aligned with the values above. Staff are always extremely helpful and really elevate the whole experience. The ethos of ‘DO RIGHT’ whether that be dealing with price matching of products, issues with an item you’ve purchased, they always go over and above to deliver on their brand promise and values.
Brand Values Examples: Pixar Brand Values + Purpose
Pixar has built a brand that is renowned for creating and designing feature films and some of our most loved animated characters. From the likes of Woody & Buzz Lightyear, to James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (Monsters Inc), Nemo (Finding Nemo) and Lightning McQueen (Cars).
Pixar’s key principles and brand values are:
Failure isn’t a necessary evil
Don’t confuse the process with the goal
Quality is the best business plan
People are more important than ideas
Everybody should be able to talk to anybody
Prepare for the unknown
Give good notes
These values are clearly set out to create a culture that is built around quality, people and a show of support that failure shouldn’t be treated negatively. This will undoubtedly build a culture and understanding within the company that people come first and all ideas should be explored regardless of the outcome.
Brand Values Examples: Slack Brand Values
Slack has taken the business world by storm and many teams across the globe are using the business communication platform. If you are unfamiliar with Slack, they’ve positioned their brand as ‘the future of work’ and have transformed the way many of us now work. The communication app allows you to separate work channels, integrate software apps and much much more.
Slacks brand values are as follows:
If you are familiar with the Slack platform you will be able to easily identify some of the values above. A good example is if you look at how they communicate the values on their website (Section Feature Image Above) there is playfulness with the use of the emoji’s to help communicate their brand values.
Brand Values Examples: Airbnb Brand Values
Airbnb has to be the biggest holiday rental company in the world but interestingly don’t actually own any of the rental properties. It is a unique strategy but one we have seen inherited by Uber (arguably the largest taxi company in the world but don’t own any taxis) and Facebook the largest social media platform but without owning any content.
Airbnb’s core values are as follows:
Champion The Mission
We’re united with our community to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
Be A Host
We’re caring, open and encouraging to everyone we work with
Embrace The Adventure
We’re driven by curiosity, optimism and the belief that every person can grow
Be A Cereal Entrepreneur
We’re determined and creative in transforming our bold ambitions into reality.
It is clear that Airbnb is very entrepreneurial in their business and brand approach. There is also a clear sense of adventure built around the narratives of travel, exploration and seeking out new experiences.
“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate everything the company does. If enough people believe they share values with a company they will stay loyal to the brand”
How can you define your own brand values?
As you can see from this guide brand values come in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to defining your own brand values this isn’t always the easiest of tasks, especially when you are so immersed in your own brand. Whilst that may seem a little counterintuitive a brand strategist once explained it like this “it’s impossible to read what’s on the outside of the label if you’re inside the jar”.
Now we understand that not everyone has the budget to work with a brand consultancy like Grey Coffee to help define a successful brand strategy; so we are going to outline some insight which will help you to create your own process which in turn will help to define your brand values.
Your brand values are here to stay!
Remember these values will underpin your brand for as long as your brand is operational. They are not interchangeable and need to be carefully considered before they are attached to your brand.
Your brand values will help to shape your purpose and personality so it’s important they all align. Your brand will be guided by these values so steer clear of generic terms and actually spend time to develop something that goes beyond the surface level to create something that is meaningful, distinctive and unique.
Brand values help to differentiate you from your competition. If your brand is differentiated and memorable you will already be ahead of your competition. Understanding your audience will help you to create values that are meaningful and memorable to them also, so it’s important to consider what they may value too.
Don’t copy and paste!
As stated above your brand values should be unique, meaningful and memorable. This isn’t a case of researching some of your favourite brands to see what they do and then carrying out a ‘cut, copy and paste’ to shoe horn them into your own brand. It just won’t work. They need to be carefully refined and picked so they align with your mission and wider brand strategy. Your values contribute to the culture you build as a brand, which in turn is adopted and carried forward by any of the team that decide to join you in your mission.
If they are meaningful and something that you really believe in then you really won’t have an issue being authentic and true to them. Whatever you decide your brand values to be, you need to be willing to make a stand for them. After all, once you attach them to your brand they will really do become the beating heart of everything you do.
Start with 3 and embed them into the heart of your brand
If you only give yourself the option to pick 3 brand values (whilst we appreciate some brands may decide to use more) it really makes you focus on the things that really matter.
For those that decide to pick and present lots of brand values it has less of an impact. The message gets diluted because a long list of 10+ brand values is less authentic and seemingly like you are trying to please everyone.
Remember, remember, remember your brand can (and if successful) will last a lifetime and so do the values that it’s built upon. Your brand values need to be able to stand the test of time. Of course your brand and business will evolve but your brand values should remain constant.
To summarise here’s our final thoughts on Brand Values
In this guide we have provided insight into some of the most common questions surrounding brand values. We have explored why they are important and how they help create an emotional connection to a brand. We have looked at brand values examples with one of our very own clients Lumiere Consultancy. We have also explored other examples such as Slack, Pixar and Airbnb to name just a few.
In the final part of this guide we look at how you can start to understand how you define and create your own brand values that will form part of your overall brand strategy.
If you have found this guide helpful you may also like to consider reading some of our other insights:
Free Brand Strategy Template: If you are looking to define your brand then you may find this brand strategy template useful.
Insight: Does brand strategy and design influence the choices we make as customers?
Insight: What is brand strategy and connected brand experience?
Insight: Connected brand experience
Insight: Let’s talk brand
If you’re interested in understanding how we can help you to transform your brand and impact business growth then you may want to explore our brand consultancy, brand identity design or brand workshops service pages.