Customer focus. Integrity. Reliability. (Cue Charlie brown’s teacher.) Wah waaaah wah waah wah… Really? Of all the possible way to describe a brand's values or guiding principles, companies so often choose such meaningless drivel. To claim that “We’re 100% committed to doing what is right for our customers” or “We create solutions that drive results” will not differentiate nor help prospective customers articulate the essence of a company’s brand. Those are table stakes, and have become tiresome and void of any value whatsoever.
Brand values are a set of expectations that should work to build an emotional connection with customers, prospects and key stakeholders. They should influence how others perceive and interact with your organization. Declaring cliched, vanilla brand values is the equivalent of planting your flag in the ground and yelling “Nothing to see here! We’re just like very other company you’re considering. Carry on.”
But there’s a greater risk than failing to take claim to a unique code that your brand lives by. Being irrelevant. You fail to connect deeply with prospects in ways that build trust and foster engagement if your brand values aren’t truly relevant to them. Carefully articulated brand values should not only be a reflection of the brand promise you make to a prospect, but also a strategic response to their specific needs. In other words, your brand values should be in clear alignment with the real needs and pain of your core audiences.
Here’s an example: We have a client that specializes in low volume, high mix electronics manufacturing for regional and global manufacturing companies. Their customers often need to consider low cost country options for manufacturing, without losing the benefits of a local presence. Among this company’s most critical brand values is their global footprint and support of a large services provider. However, that’s not enough to effectively distinguish them from global competitors. It’s their ability to provide a tailored, intimate approach of a local specialty group that clearly sets them apart. It’s about being the right fit.
A clear understanding of how a company’s brand values align to their client’s needs can become one of the most valued tools in the sales team arsenal. It demonstrates a sales person’s competency in recognizing and understanding those needs, and ensures a confident and articulated response. Further, clear brand values are essentially the key ingredients of your value proposition, or brand promise. This statement represents a fundamental commitment to key stakeholders, and should convince them that your products or services will add more value or better solve a problem than competitive offerings.
Do away with the cliched brand values at all costs. It’s likely that your competitors are already using them anyhow. Tell your story in a way that has meaning and value, sets an expectation and gives your prospects a real reason to believe.