“While your vision is the why of your business, your core values define the how. They dictate how you hire, how your build relationships, how you interact with clients and customers, how you approach innovation, and how you stand out from the competition.”
JEFFREY PRAG – PRESIDENT, INITIAL DESIGN GROUP
The fourth step on our branding journey is identifying your core values. These core values will help prospective customers and clients identify with your brand and become naturally attracted to who you are and what you represent. They will more quickly develop a meaningful relationship with your organization and create more brand loyalty as well.
Tips on Writing Core Values
To identify your core brand values, start by choosing the values that are true and authentic to your business. Don’t look to industry standards or consider best-practices of your competition. Focus on the things that you believe create a better business that helps you more effectively achieve your brand vision.
Choose values that won’t change as the business changes. As your business grows from startup into maturity, your values should remain relevant and timeless.
Your core values should be documented in a list, with the value followed by a brief explanation of what that value actually means. Try to keep the list from being too short to be meaningful, and from being too many items to be usable. This usually means having 5 to 10 values in the list. If your list has too many values, it becomes difficult to really comprehend them all. It’s not something that your staff or customers can easily consume.
The Process of Writing Core Values
The process to determining your own organization’s core values begins with making a long list of:
- The adjectives that define the culture at your organization.
- The unwritten rules of behavior and interaction in your office.
- The words that customers use about your company in testimonials and when giving positive feedback.
- The way that your customers feel about your organization and what they believe your values are.
- The strengths of your organization, even if not recognized by your customers.
- The skills and behaviors you value in fellow employees.
Take this list and combine similar values into more generalize statements. By grouping them, we can make the list more comprehensive while also being easier to digest. As you bundle the list together, consider the core theme of the group. Use this core theme, the characteristic that made you choose to group them together in the first place, as the core of the new value.
Next, prioritize this list, and shorten it to between 5 and 10 items. This isn’t a concrete rule, so if your list cannot be complete without being longer, then just make it longer. That’s ok.
If you have ended up with a list of single words or short phrases, take the time to write a one or two sentence description of the value so that it’s clear what you mean. For instance, in the active marketing list of values, it isn’t enough to just list ‘Relationships’ as a value without explaining.
You can see a great example of this in the core values of the Active Marketing brand:
- Integrity – We will be trustworthy and ethical in our office and in the business we conduct. We will do what we say and keep our promises. We will choose integrity over profit every time.
- Relationships – We recognize that success in life and success in business are both measured by the quality of our relationships. We make time to foster the growth of real relationships with our clients, partners, and team.
- Generosity – We value the people with whom we work, and the industry in which we work, and we will find opportunities to give back and help each other when we can.
- Innovation – We will stay relevant and competitive by discovering, creating, and employing new ideas, processes, and tools.
- Expertise – We believe that the key to great work is great expertise, and will nurture a culture that encourages continued learning and the sharpening of
- Drive – We believe that in order to meet the needs of our clients and reach the goals of the business, all members of the team must be self-motivated and work with a sense of urgency in all their tasks.