Brand Values

Setting New Standards with Brand Values

Today I want to talk about brand values and why they are a really important part of creating your brand strategy.

Whether you’re a marketing manager or business owner looking to set new standards within your business, these simple brand value strategies will help ensure you attract the right partners, customers and staff into your business.

How brand values form part of the vision
One of the reasons why it's really important because your brand values not only form part of the vision of the business, in terms of where it's going but also the foundation of how the business is going to be built from the ground up.

In fact, your values can have an impact on things like the kind of standards that you set in your business, so things like what kind of level that you want to play at, and also, your values then can have an impact on formulating your client avatar.

When you know your brand values and you're clear on those brand values they will also help you work out what kind of clients, customers that you want to either, not just market to, but obviously attract to the business.

Brand values can impact the colours used in your branding
The other reason why they're really important is actually that your brand values can also have an impact on the colours that you use for your branding. For example, if you go on the internet and you look at colour psychology there are lots of different colours that relate to different types of values and energy.

For example, the word trust is synonymous with things like the colour blue, and then there are other colours that are more creative in energy, like orange.

When you really think about your brand values you can actually use them to choose the right colours for your business and your brand, and it can make a difference in terms of, attracting the right or wrong customers to your business.

Brand values categories
You can break brand values into two categories. First, you've got your core brand values, which, form the core foundation of the business in terms of standards and who you are and what you stand for. And then, for example, you are developing a brand campaign that's for a specific product and service, you would then have a number of extra keywords or values that you think that are important to a specific project.

For example here’s an example we created for an engineering company ... They had built their business to a certain level, but in order to go to the next level up they needed to invest in a brand campaign that would stand out from their competitors, and this meant getting clear about their values and the kind of customers they wanted to attract.

So before we did any kind of creative work
We took time to look at the brand values of the business, and as you can see, there's a real mix of different words. Some of them are about the business, words like strength, prestige. The main thing was that the words were important to the business from a core perspective, but also product specific keywords as well.

Another area that we're seeing an increase in...
are companies looking to make their business more purpose driven, and a lot of businesses at the moment are, reviewing their standards, In fact I was watching a video featuring the CEO of a venture capital company who was doing a talk at the New York Stock Exchange who said he had seen a 700% increase in companies wanting to be more purpose driven. That's pretty interesting.

So, what if you are looking to add some kind of social responsibility to your business? A good resource for this is the UN Global Goals. I believe they were brought out in 2015, and I think there are about 12 goals* which look at different areas in the world that they see as being really important to focus on and improving. I know myself, I've had a look at them, picked out a couple of things that I know that are really integral and important to me, not just personally but also as a business owner.

Another great resource I use is a platform called GeniusU. It's an entrepreneur network, which is free to join. On there you can find a series of individual micro degrees that can help you review and find both the values and purpose of your business.

And of course, I’ve integrated the links into this article of any of the above resources that I've mentioned.

So… When was the last time you reviewed your brand values? Are they aligned to your business and own internal brand standards?

I really hope you enjoyed the tips that I've shared today, and obviously, please either give me the thumbs up or leave a comment below, if you have story or experience about how changing your brand values improved business performance and reputation? I’d love you to share.

Correction: *actually 17 UN Global Goals

What is branding experience

What is branding?

A couple of weeks ago I was at a local networking event. While introducing myself to an attendee, the gentleman came back to me with a question, which is, "What is branding?"  He said, "Is that like logo design?"

It's weird, 'but I get asked this question quite a lot. People say, "Oh, so is that logo design or graphic design?" So I thought I’d answer the question that, first, no, branding is not logo design. Branding and logo design are two very, very different things. Your logo design is just one aspect of your branding.

A lot of people think that branding is just the business image, that it's purely just your logo, your marketing etc. But it's not just how your business presents itself from an image perspective, it's also how it communicates. It's then how every single person in your business communicates. So if you think about your business and think about every single touchpoint that somebody has to connect with your business, each one is an opportunity for your brand to either do well or not do well and for me, it is definitely something that I think, business owners often overlook.

Especially in the area of customer service and customer relations. The number of brands that I go into, maybe on the surface they look really great, they've fantastic branding, fantastic look and feel, but then you walk into their shop and you get treated like, basically, crap. That is branding.

Why spend all that money having this great branding, great look and feel, only to have the people in your shop not flying the flag for your business. And if that person then doesn't carry through and doesn't represent your brand in the right way, then it's just a missed opportunity.

While people may look at that person and just see one person, every person is a network. Every person then knows lots of other people. I'm sure a lot of people already know how important word of mouth is in business, and this is where your branding and word of mouth can really, really make or break your business and your brand. And if like I say, on the surface you go to this length of having these really great brand values and you make a brand promise, but then you don't deliver on that brand promise, that is an impact on your branding.

Oh yes, and I nearly forgot, a book that I highly recommend that you read. The book's called "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber, which, I think I have a copy here. It has some really great insights and ideas about what branding is, you'll find a couple of really great stories in it about how important branding is as part of the customer journey.

He tells a story, about how he went into a barbershop and the first time he went into the barbershop he had a great experience, he was offered tea and coffee and the whole thing was a really great experience. And then a couple of months later he went back to that same shop, and the second time he went into the shop, the haircut and whatever was fine, but he didn't get asked for coffee, the person wasn't as tentative as last time. But he thought he'd give them the benefit of the doubt, and then the third time that he went back, the experience was worse than the second time.

And he talks about, that most people naturally have this kind of "three strikes and you're out" process. So your first experience with that brand is really, really great. Obviously, the first thing you want to do is you want to go back and tell everyone, right? And if then you go back to that same place a second time and your second experience wasn't as good as the first experience, you kind of feel a little bit let down. And in the back of your mind, you're then thinking, "Mm, maybe I'll give them, maybe give them one more go." And if the third time, the experience isn't as good as the second or the first time, then you've kind of had it? You've lost the things. And I think given the fact there's so much competition out there, that these are really, really important things: making sure that you know all the different parts of your branding, and your branding really communicates and really is consistent across all the different things. That is what the difference between logo design and branding. Branding is everything. It's basically everything.

Thanks for reading, why not leave a comment below and I’d love to know what you think branding is.

brand trust graphic

Trust - The essential ingredient in effective brand communication.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s an essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships”.  Stephen Covey

Last month I attended the first ever UK Trust conference in London. The event was hosted by Talent Dynamics and featured a range of speakers from successful entrepreneurs to global company directors with Stephen MR Covey ( the son of well-known author Stephen Covey ) as the event’s keynote speaker.

The key topic of the event was ‘How to use trust and flow in your business to increase loyalty and profits’.

When you think about the present economic climate, from the recession to bank charges and PPI scandal, it’s not hard to see why this topic is a big talking point for many business owners. As a small business owner myself, I understand just how important trust is to building client relationships and word of mouth referrals.

There have been plenty of stories about big brands whose businesses have taken a nose dive, or who had to take a financial hit when a product or campaign mislead consumers or failed to deliver the promise they claimed.

And the growth of social media has made it harder for businesses and brands to hide from their mistakes or responsibilities. With so much competition brands have come to realise how valuable a loyal customer base is to create a sustainable and profitable business.

With so much great content covered by the speakers at the Trust Conference, I thought I’d share some of the key takeaways I got from the event;

Talk straight
This is all about being transparent, declaring your intent, being open and honest about what you can do and what will be done by others. It’s about using simple language E.G cutting out the industry fluff or *BS*.

Keep commitment
Business commitment or a service commitment – when you create a brand promise it's important to make sure you deliver on that promise.

Right wrongs
If a customer is unhappy to be quick to put things right. This is often hard, as it means holding your hands up when you’ve made a mistake. It’s about taking responsibility for your part and remembering that you just never know who this customer knows!

Listen first
Be 100% in the room. This is about listening to what your clients or customers are saying, the more you listen, the more you’ll be able to hear their challenges and create the right solutions. As a creative person, this is something I have often found difficult because ideas can happen spontaneously which means we can often jump in too early with ideas.

However, over the years I’ve learnt to hang back and ask better questions which in turn has allowed me to get to the heart of what the client is really looking to achieve.

Inspire Trust (Love this one!)
Speaking of people as though they are in the room which is about showing respect at all times. I think this is especially important for people in leadership and management roles when you want to create trust within a team or staff.

The common thread throughout the event was that whether in your personal or business life, there is no getting away from the fact that trust plays a vital role when creating confidence as well as credibility within the marketplace. The more trust there is the greater the rewards personally and financially.

So... how important is trust to you in relation to building a business or maybe you have a story to tell? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great month :-)
Debbie Evran