When you consider your brand’s values, you want to get a sense of what you believe your business needs to represent and communicate. You do this so it feels that not only are you executing your concept in a transparent, consistent and authentic manner, but that you’re also creating something that chimes with your own values.
You need to have a firm grasp on the principles that guide your business and, in much the same way that you identified your own values and how these related to your needs, expectations etc., you need to work on these from a business perspective.
There are, of course, going to be times when you have to revise decisions and choices, but the more you do that reflects who you are and/or the brand, the happier you will be. If you make short-term choices that don’t resonate with your medium- to longer-term goals or that, in fact, take you in the opposite direction, you’ll have to deal with longer-term consequences.
This means that if you say that your business (and you) have certain values, your actions need to stack up with what you profess, otherwise it will create a disconnect and unease with customers (or potentials), never mind with yourself.
As you’re creating a three-dimensional character for your brand, it has personal values and a personality, just like you do.
- What are its values?
- Which characteristics and qualities do you want to be associated with your brand and business?
- How would you describe its personality? How does that affect its values?
- What are the brand’s beliefs?
- What is its attitude?
- What does this character ‘do’?
Sometimes in knowing what you don’t want to be defined as, you get very clear on what you do want, so consider the positions you don’t want to take up.
Then look at the other categories:
Relationship values What types of relationship do you want to have with your customers? Are loyal, detailed and intimate relationships important to you, or are you happy to have a lighter relationship with your customers? The latter wouldn’t make you not value loyalty, but it would suggest you don’t want to carve out a situation where you have to, for instance, spend a lot of time online tending to your relationships across all of the platforms. Are you wanting to create a business that engages quite a lot with its customers/followers? Will collecting data about customers, or even tailoring your offering to customers be part of your business?
This is a good time to consider how much time you want to spend on social media. Do you see yourself charting the brand and store’s progress? Would you want to spend a lot of time tweeting? If you already enjoy Twitter that’s one thing but if you don’t, or you’re very protective of your downtime, these are all things to consider at this point so that you choose and plan wisely.
Financial/economic values How you feel about money in a personal sense is likely to influence some of your business values. Are you comfortable with debt? Do you like to pay and be paid on time? Are you prudent? Are you risk averse? Do you take risks? What is your attitude to tax? Do you prefer to rent or own? How do you feel that businesses should ideally trade? Many women have some blocks around money, often feeling embarrassed to admit that they want more, or doubting their inability or credibility to do so.
Also, consider how you feel about pricing and spending money on desirable items. You would be surprised how many people sell premium items, but then feel funny about how much people spend on premium items! Hello!
Remember that your pricing, or more your and your customers’ perception of the value of your products and their prices, is an important component of decisions that you will make about what you need to communicate about your brand and its products.
Social values Is any aspect of your business connected to a cause or belief set? Fair-trade, organic, charitable donations from profits, highlighting a particular struggle?
Is national pride or pride in your area one of your selling points? e.g., Made in Britain. Is giving something back important? Do your products have a social message? Think about how you are going to communicate these values in your branding. Remember that there are ways to communicate your (and the business’s) values without crossing into preaching territory ,so think about how you’re going to use everything from colour, to product choice, to visuals, to voice, tone and content, to strike a healthy balance of showing and telling. It’s also important that your store and its objectives don’t get lost.
When it comes to social values, brands often forget to impart, in their About page or even on product descriptions, why that particular value matters or is relevant to the product.
A word of warning Do make sure that you check out any credentials that a brand that you’re working with claims, because anything misleading can knock you from an association perspective.
Political values It’s good for you to know your own and the brand’s political values, because that helps when you’re dealing with suppliers and ties into social values. You need to care about where and how your products are made and also ensure that you’re not dealing with companies who may inadvertently bring you into disrepute. Unless you’re selling a politically related product, your political views probably shouldn’t be part of your branding, unless there is a very strong business case for doing so. It’s a similar case for religious values – unless your product or ethos is religion related, again, you don’t need to include it in your branding.