Confused with all the conjecture and ambivalence surrounding ‘brand’ and ‘business?’
Regardless of how you look at it, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of an ever-growing majority that tends to blur the lines rather erroneously.
Your brand value signifies the compass that guides your business to the north of its success.
Put simply; they’re VERY important for your business.
Now, the next logical question is – what does it take to define them and what do you do with that definition once you get them in place?
Let’s start from where it all starts making sense – the very beginning!
Brand and Values: The Indelible Connection
Values are at the front and center of your brand and the business it represents. They are the centrifugal force upon which everything else (including the look, design, voice, and engagement) permeates.
Unless you’ve been living without an Internet connection, you already know that the success of your business heavily depends on the strength of your brand.
You do, right?
But, if you’re clueless about refurbishing your business as an enlivened brand, or getting your brand to catapult your business, read further.
The Two Pillars of Branding
Let’s face it.
Building a brand is a long, tedious and complicated process.
Contrary to the popular notion (and what small business owners believe), it entails myriad elements and is way more profound than a fancy logo proudly displayed on your website. Generally speaking, the success of your brand rests on two extraneous yet indisputably important pillars:
- Voice identity: this includes your communication style, tonality, tagline and messaging
- Visual identity: as the name suggests, this includes the visual contours of your business like colors, logo, typography, and others.
But guess what? For a brand to be truly ‘out there’ and make its presence felt, there’s a third imperative ‘internal’ pillar.
It is a pillar that every business owner must address – before even conceptualizing a logo or drafting a compelling tagline – on every channel/platform you intend to promote your business.
This missing pillar that is most important for your business is nothing else but your Brand Values. It is brand values that will help you position your organization’s personality and purpose.
In the absence of these values, your business runs the greatest risk of all – lacking differentiation that makes it recognizable and relatable. When that happens, you can be sure that your business is only headed towards one direction – southwards.
Value Vs. Values: More than a missing letter?
That’s a very relevant question because the difference is not so apparent on the surface. Does your brand value have any connection, explicit or otherwise, with its values?
If you’re tempted to retort with a dismissive ‘no,’ think again! By the same token, don’t rush to the conclusion and say ‘yes.’ As always, the truth lies somewhere between the two – the perennial gray area.
When using the term brand value, one tends to conjure images of a quantifiable sum of money. It’s common to hear people discussing their ‘brand worth.’
For instance, an unbranded T-shirt could be valued at $15 whereas an Adidas-branded T-shirt that looks the same may be worth $150. Evidently, the difference in value stems from the strength (or weakness) of a brand.
Seth Godin makes a wonderful observation in this regard:
A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.
As is clear from the above example, a brand’s value is not restricted to how much people would end up paying for it, but also the regularity with which they select it – as well as the underlying reasons.
For instance, a pair of jeans (branded) may cost $200, but its brand wouldn’t command much value if people only wore them once for the sake of salvaging their prestige and never bought them again, the brand would lose its sheen.
We all know that no brand can survive, let alone thrive on one-time buys & customers.
In contrast, if another brand costs just $80, but it is able to get people to make repeat purchases, it enjoys a far greater value.
In other words:
Repeat customers hold the key to any business’s success and are strongly tied to its brand value.
As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz poignantly observes:
If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
What this simply means is that you really don’t prefer one brand over another (for example, Nike over Adidas) because it’s necessarily better. In most cases, it isn’t. Many research studies have proven that the difference lies between our ears- our brain!
To make your brand valuable, you don’t necessarily need to show off the greatest array of designs or arrange the most costly products within your niche. This is very true for the hospitality industry too.
Yes, factors like ambience, surroundings and aesthetic appeal do play a massive role in the success of a restaurant or a coffee shop. But your brand value truly gets amplified every time that one customer decides to come back only to you and not try out someone else.
The brand makes your business succeed when that (or any other customer) prefers you over your rival to do business with, or better still, recommend your services to a friend.
It is this conscious choice they make which is strongly linked to the core of your brand values and branding strategy.
A brand that stands up
If you’re looking to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with your customers in a manner that brings repeat businesses and raises your brand value, you may want to define its (your brand’s, that is) values so that you give your audience something to remain loyal to.
This is a critical point and must never be undermined.
As owners of businesses, we tend to embroil ourselves in lengthy explanations of what it stands for and believes in. But, the fact remains that few of us can repeat or even remember those lofty points about our business.
If you asked your customers to define your brand in one sentence, what would they say?
What would you want them to?
When promoting your business (via customer service, website, advertising), make sure you highlight the core values you want your potential or existing customers to understand.
Let’s take the example of the company, Apple. What words come on your mind when someone says ‘Apple?’
I can think of a few right away, and it’s no accident that I think of exactly these things:
- Cool gadgets
- Sleek designs
- Better ‘everything’
These are the values that Apple believes in and promotes them at every touch point and every point of engagement with its audience, inspiring them to live their dreams through its own.
In a presentation Steve Jobs delivered in 1997, he suggested,
What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their job done… Apple is about something more than that. Apple at the core… It’s core values… is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.
And, that’s the focal point for any brand: Encouraging others to reach out to their dreams.