Making brand values valuable

  • Brand values originated as a concept somewhere in the 1990’s when the understanding of branding evolved from being simply an exercise in corporate identity to it becoming a definition of the overall emotional experience.

    Like most original thinking, however, it was not long before everybody jumped on the bandwagon and brand values became commoditised a box ticking exercise devoid of any original thought.

    I have lost count of the number of businesses I have seen that define their values as professional integrity, customer focus and team orientation, perhaps with a bit of politically correct social conscience thrown in for good measure. Frankly, if we don’t all have these values in our brands then we shouldn’t be in business in the first place.

    So, if values are meant to be the foundation of a brand and the things that make it stand out from a crowd, what is the point of them if they are all the same?

    Brand values have to be about more than just words. Rather than turgid mediocrity, we need to think about defining and measuring brands in terms of their emotional impact, both inside the organisation and outside it. This means:

    • Attraction - the capacity of our brands to be a magnet for attention
    • Energy - how our brands motivate action
    • Stature - what we are respected for
    • Spirit - how our brands can generate excitement and inspire.

    Whether these are brand values or not, I don’t know and don’t much care. What I do know, is that this is what a brand should offer and stand for. Time spent working out how to deliver these elements will be far more rewarding than time spent looking through a thesaurus for a new word for 'integrity'.

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