We all know the values of a company often define what an organisation stands for, and are usually at the core of its culture. When we speak about values though, frequently we associate it with human resources and the people we want to hire. This is great, but do you take the extra steps required to ensure your brand is identifiable by its values? This can give you a big advantage over your competitors.
Ninety-two per cent of people want to do business with companies that share similar beliefs and values.
The above statistic (from an Edelman Brandshare study) is totally believable. If I think about every supplier, collaboration and even the brands I engage with regularly, they’re all aligned with my values. For example, I highly value good service. If I eat at a restaurant or shop in a store and get poor customer service — no matter how good the product, the price, or anything else for that matter — there is a high chance I won’t buy from that place again. I’m also going to tell at least three friends about how bad that service was.
Let’s look at some examples of organisations that are readily identifiable by their brand values. It’s hard to go past the well-known leader is this space, online retailer Zappos. One core value of the Zappos brand is ‘deliver WOW through service’ and it certainly does that. Essentially Zappos offers free returns with a ‘no-questions-asked’ policy but also goes above and beyond in ‘wowing’ customers. One great example of this is when Zappos ran out of a specific pair of shoes and the customer service representative physically went to a rival shoe store to buy the shoes and have them delivered to a hotel in Las Vegas for the customer. Every employee at Zappos lives out its core values and the brand reaps the benefits. If you ask its customers, Zappos is certainly identifiable by its values. Furthermore, in 2010 Zappos ran a whole campaign around this called ‘Happy People Making People Happy’, using real calls from its customers.
[tweet]Ninety-two per cent of people want to do business with companies that share similar beliefs and values.[/tweet]
Another great example of a brand identifiable by its values is the Life is Good clothing brand. The company was started by brothers Bert and John Jacobs, whose mum always asked the family at the dinner table each night to ‘tell them something good that happened today’. This played a big part of forming the thinking and foundation around spreading the power of optimism that is the goal of the company. What I love even more about this brand is they adopt storytelling and content marketing to drive engagement for their brands. After 11 years of business, the company generated sales of $50 million without any advertising. Fuelled by running charitable events that fit into their values and spreading optimism, the brand has grown significantly and it’s certainly identifiable by its values. It’s interesting to note that at their events you won’t find any advertising shouting to buy their products.
While these are two great examples, how can you use your values to market your brand?
Communicate your values properly
So many organisations we have come across get caught up in corporate jargon when communicating their values. Don’t just place a flyer in the lunchroom; demonstrate your values in an exciting way. Create meaningful ways to demonstrate your values and do this genuinely. One way is to create video short stories that are engaging and demonstrate the message, rather than have your CEO deliver your values reading off an autocue. Done well, these videos will last you a long time and will be an investment. Continue to reinforce the message regularly and reward excellent demonstrations of those values. Check out this example we created for WA Ballet and their principal partner Woodside, who has shared values. It’s a great example of how to leverage their community partnership to communicate one of their values.
Empower your employees to live out your values
In the Zappos’ example, each employee gets a total of seven weeks’ training on customer service before even starting with the company. They empower their employees every step of the way to ensure they can go above and beyond to live out the company’s core values. The key here is to empower. This means looking at the policies that are in place that prevent your team from going ‘above and beyond’. While many organisations have goals in place to get through a number of calls per day, Zappos doesn’t have any such policies in place. In one instance a customer service rep spent more than ten hours on the phone with a customer (which, if you are wondering, resulted in the sale of a pair of Ugg boots). It’s easy to think, ‘well, that wasn’t worth it’, but we need to think of the domino effect this has on the business and what that is worth in the long run.
If your organisation is living out its values but your brand isn’t really reaping the benefits, you may need to look at ways to help this along. Try taking your advertising hat off and put your storytelling hat on. Life is Good pulled out of a radio-advertising contract when it received a letter from two young boys who were born disabled but where encouraged by the products Life is Good had being making. This sparked the idea of taking the money from the radio contract and instead creating an event that connected with their audiences on a whole new level —raising money for a relevant charity. Not only did this align better with their brand values but the knock-on effect for the brand was huge. Thousands of people attended their event and ‘co-authored’ their own story on behalf of the Life is Good brand. It’s safe to say they got a lot more cut-through and engagement than the radio-advertising contract.
Really understand your customer
It amazes me how many organisations don’t really take the time to truly, deeply understand who their customer is. You must always ‘deep dive’ and understand the customers who really love your brand and why. It will help you understand exactly what aligns with your values but, most importantly, it helps highlight opportunities to further market your position.
Everyone in your organisation has the opportunity to ‘shine the light’. Some won’t even think twice about it and some will. Hire employees with aligned values and care for them. If you get this right to begin with, most of your work is done already.
Do you need help identifying your brand values or creating content around them? Get in contact with Lush – The Content Agency.
Like what you’ve read? Sign up to the Lush newsletter today to help you market your business better. Click on the sign-up on the top right-hand side of this page.