Creating and expressing brand values
Who do brand values speak to?
Many of the so-called ‘big brands’ make a point of having a core set of corporate brand values. These can be both outwardly and inwardly facing. Customers can see the values that the business believes in, often based on values from when or how the company was formed, or linked to their products and services. Similarly, employees of that business can see values which they need to work towards. The values often reflect how the business intends to treat them as people, as well as their customers.
How are brand values created?
Open discussion with all staff, from top to bottom is a great way of kicking off a brand value discussion. Doing this away from the 'office' is probably best. Open questions such as, ‘Who are we?’, ‘What are we good at?, ‘What do our customers rely on us for?’ or ‘As employees, what do you value most about working for company x?’ are good ways to get the value-ball rolling. At this stage, they don’t need to be finished values, just thoughts and expressions.
The next stage is to try and spot common threads that appear in these ‘notes’ and to try to start honing them down into the starts of values. In my experience, the shorter the better – each value should be ideally just one word, such as … respect, teamwork, united, caring, fun etc. You can always add a sentence to each afterwards to describe the value more fully.
Communicating brand values
This brings me onto how your brand values are communicated. Unfortunately it’s sad to see that many of the big brands such as McDonald’s, IKEA, Kellogg’s, Google and LEGO (especially!), communicate their brand values online in a boring old page of HTML text. LEGO have a token ‘brand framework’ graphic. However, considering the amount of creativity they put into their consumer products, this is quite disappointing in its conception. Why not try to make your brand values actually part of your brand? For example, each value could have an icon, which could take its look from the design style of your logo. Each icon could be colour coded, using colours from your brand colour palette. You could display your brand values internally for staff as part of the office environment, or give staff a printed book containing them, as part of an internal launch. Hiding them away in a block of text deep in your website isn’t going to get them noticed or, more importantly, followed, by anyone.
Examples of well-executed brand values
Although these are still under inception, the three icons for these values show a clear element of creative thought put into them, in order to tie them directly to the brand. Kwamecorp have also had some fun with this, which hopefully means the values will be loved and followed by customers and employees alike.
Here, Comptel have turned two of their brand value icons into posters, possibly for display internally, using copy underneath to flesh-out the value to their employees.
Gatwick Airport use fun illustration for their brand values. I don’t know if it necessarily fits in with their brand, but they display them proudly on their website and they’re fun working together as a set.
Designed and illustrated by Creative Cadence, these brand values were structured as a ‘manifesto’ and have the flexibility to appear as one large page on the Desynit website, a poster for internal display, or the individual values can be split up and spoken about separately, for example in blog posts interspersed throughout the year. The manifesto talks to both internal and external audiences.