How to Define Your Brand Values
At the end of the day your values are simply the things that you, as a business, care about. They are literally what you value - but defining them and using them can be tricky. As a small business you might not be sure you need to define yours, or what effect they might have on your business. Let’s dig into it and get to defining yours!
As we mentioned, brand values are simply what you, as a business, care about. The spectrum here is broad. Big. Overwhelming. And knowing how to define them can feel strange because you’re not really sure what you’re going to do with them once you’ve defined what they are. So let’s talk about how brand values coming into play in the day-to-day operations of a small business.
For us, we’ve seen small businesses create the most impact with their brand values when they are tied directly to their offering. Whether you are a product or service based business, chances are your values are closely linked to the way in which you operate, or the products you sell.
Here’s some examples from a client of ours:
WOASH Wellness offers herbal teas with a purpose. Each of their tea blends has a direct benefit for someone, and each are named for that purpose. The intent behind the business is to make choosing a herbal tea simple; whatever you are feeling there is a tea that will help with it, and WOASH offers 2 simple sizes to choose from, and nothing more.
For WOASH, simplicity is a brand value. They value the simplicity in fewer choices, the way they can reduce overwhelm for their customers and simple benefits they can provide in creating their teas this way.
Simplicity might seem like a very basic adjective, hardly worthy of being a brand value - but once you see how it’s brought into their business, and applied to every aspect of the customer experience, you can start to understand how useful it is. Now, whenever their founder Cassy is making a decision about her business, she can refer back to this value and ask herself “Does this decision help to make things simpler, or at least, easy, for my customers”? If the answer is no, it’s probably not the right option for her to move forward with.
For ourselves, we know radical honesty is one of our brand values. For us we think of this in a similar fashion to good customer service, but we bring it into our internal operations as much as anything else, and use it as a standard with which we can guide our conversations and interactions as a team, as well as with our clients.
Radical honesty, is essentially kind honesty. It’s being honest and open as much as possible, not skirting around issues, creating constructive and supportive situations in which to have honest conversations, and being clear with our intentions at all times.
We use this in our conversations with clients - letting them know that they can ask questions, disagree with us, or that we might push them to consider new ideas. With our team it means being honest when we’re not happy, when something isn’t working, or when we want to share feedback. With our online audience it means we’re being honest about the realities of business ownership and aren’t creating a facade that stops connection from happening.
With these examples you can, hopefully, see a few ways in which a brand value can be put to use. It’s about so much more than saying that you will offer “good customer service” but really considering how and what you’re going to do with your values, and finding the specific language that suits that best.
Even with good customer service, which every business should have as a standard really, you can see how a company like Whole Foods takes it to the next level. Whole Foods defines good customer service as creating “store environments that are inviting, fun, unique, comfortable, attractive, nurturing, and educational. [Their] stores are community meeting places where people can join their friends and make new ones.”
So how to start defining and creating your own values?
Start with the things that really matter to your products or services. What makes them unique, different, or something someone would want to give you their money for?
What do you have in the personalities of your team or business that matters to you? Are you feminists? Do you care about the environment? What do you care about that can be brought into the day-to-day of your business?
What about your customers - what do they care about? Is their a value you share, or a problem you can solve for them?
Finally look at how you want to show up in the world as a business, the things that create integrity for you and would help you be proud of your business if you followed through on it.
If those questions don’t spark any ideas for you, browse through a list of adjectives and see what comes to mind.
We ask our clients at Salt Design Co. to define their brand values before we embark on a brand identity design project together. Sometimes we help our clients figure out what their values are, and sometimes the process itself helps our clients to get clear on things. However you go about it, we’re here to help! Shoot us an email or comment below once you’ve got your brand values defined. We’d love to hear what they are, or work with you to develop your branding.
This post can also be found over on our studio website. Want help with the branding of your small business? We’re here to help!