The critical importance of brand values can easily be seen when we recall some of our favourite brands.

When we think of such diverse companies as Mercedes Benz, Defy and Woolworths don’t specific brand values immediately spring to mind? Who instantly recalls these three organisations’ corporate colours and other one-dimensional elements of their corporate identities? Tellingly, it’s their brand values that we first remember.

With the values that a brand stands for so top of mind for the average consumer, why then does logo design, colour selection and other second-level elements of brand identity so often take pole position when the entrepreneur first sits down to plan the launch of that dream start-up?

One could say that so much energy is put into the body of the product or service and very little attention is paid to its soul. This is an enormous error as it’s the soul that determines what we stand for, as human beings and as organisations. It’s what brands stand for that consumers connect with, and this is especially true in today’s world.

In ‘United We Brand’ (2003), Mike Moser reflects on the importance of values to a brand’s fundamental DNA: “Without a clear set of core values, the very foundation of your brand is in jeopardy, and so is your ability to communicate your brand believably to anyone inside or outside your company.”

The entrepreneur needs to devote a significant amount of time to ascertain the real essence of the start-up business. Classic marketing textbooks speak of what want or need the prospective business aims to satisfy. Well, we’ve gone way beyond that in 2018. We want to know what emotional connection the company seeks to establish between itself and consumers.

If you don't put down in writing what values your new business will stand for, it won't stand for much in the eyes of potential customers. All manner of competitive risks will emerge as consumers find it easy to replace your soulless brand with a more meaningful alternative.

It should be borne in mind that brand values cannot be mere puffery. They need to be defined, specific and wholly lived within the organisation. To help this daily acting out of overarching brand values, the brand founder needs to identify what actual behaviours correlate to brand values clearly. All stakeholders need to be entirely clear when they are acting in accordance with the firm’s values, and when they are not.

The overriding message in all of this is that entrepreneurs must determine early on what core values need to be so encapsulated in the start-up brand that if they ceased to exist, the brand would be unrecognisable.

With all the challenges inherent in launching a new brand in today's marketplace, the brand must directly adhere to its founding values in the face of common obstacles typically encountered during the business lifecycle.

Challenges are, however, tremendous opportunities as this is where a brand’s reputation for consistency can be cemented, to the eternal admiration of current and potential customers.

Finally, it is tempting to conclude from the above that determining brand values is a process that belongs to the early-stage business. Not so. Established firms without clear governing values can also benefit from what for them will be an exciting and a long overdue voyage of discovery!

Comments are closed.