Home > Advertising > Brand Values

Brand Values

How many of you have clearly identified your brand values?

For example....my company has the following brand values.

Recruitment & Training Excellence
…at the next level…
Innovation
Excellence
Results

We make sure that everything we do is a reflection of these values, when we do that, our actions are in line with our brand values. - by Tony Dunne
Another excellent thread, Snowman...

I just consulted with a company this week to define and refine their brand identity in their marketplace. Often, companies pick nebulous values because they sound good, but when you really examine these values, they are just words, with no real "meat" behind them.

For instance, many companies would say that one of their brand values is "excellent customer service", yet few companies really do anything different or amazing to differentiate themselves from their competitors in the realm of customer service excellence. If this is one of your brand values, then you'd better make sure that it shows up over and over again throughout your organization in many different ways. Other overstated brand identities are "innovation" (a grossly overused term because few companies are truly innovative) or "we offer high value".

Chipotle Mexican Grill is one company that has been very successful in part because they seem to have such clear brand values. One of these values, I believe, is "simplicity."

Chipotle restaurants have simple decor. They also have only FIVE menu items (plus chips, guacamole, and beverages). It's simple to order at Chipotle because it's such a SIMPLE menu. Customers get it. This methodology has worked for them. You can view Chipotle's menu at http://www.chipotle.com/assets/menu.pdf.

Most other Mexican restaurant in the U.S. have traditionally chosen to take the "more is more" approach to their menus.To compare, you can check out another Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood (with probably hundreds of menu items) at http://www.elloromexicanrestaurant.com/menus.nxg , but Chipotle chose to go against the Mexican restaurant tradition to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and it has worked.

To truly be a real brand value, it must meet the following criteria:

1. It must resonate with the market
2. It must be either TRUE or BELIEVED by the market, and
3. It must make you different from your competitors

If your brand values don't meet these three criteria, they're not really brand values, they're just words on a page in some computer file, or words in your mind.

So my advice is to get real and define your REAL brand values (but don't be surprised if you find that you really don't have any brand values yet, because a lot of companies haven't been "walking the talk" of their brand identities, and in the process have rendered their brand values invalid.)

Skip Anderson - by Skip Anderson
Skip,

I fully agree with you that misguided companies often "pick" nebulous values for their brands because they sounded good. I have seen too many of that here in Malaysia because some executive read about the value of having brand values somewhere.

But, then again, the brand values concept is still very new in emerging markets. Most of these nebulous values are actually targets set by management, with action plans on how to get there.

Shah - by wiromal
Hi Snow man

An intersting topic and one most companies spend far to little time on.

I am working with a branding expert at the moment in our mastermind group. The key thing to remember is that branding is all about how "you" or your company make the client feel. We buy things for the feelings it gives us. Period. Think about it.

If you engender a specific feeling with a client you will move your business forward.

This also links with the different types of archetypes that people exhibit... you then link your brand to these people and attributes. So often companies attempt to be all things to all men and end up being nothing to nobody??!!

Best Wishes

SalesManagersCoach;sm - by SalesManagersCoach
that's a nice informative things to rethink about ur own brand values!

i have to think again for my brand values!

hey nice and cool stuff!

thanks for posting - by Team Building FL
I've found that all organizations of people - from sales organizations to organized religion (which I'm not saying bad things about) to martial arts associations (I'm an instructor...) - all feel that their culture is an important part of their message to the masses because it's so important to them.

If you've ever done network marketing, you'll hear things like "our company really believes that the representative/distributor should come first." All religions have "the true message." Every martial art is great for whatever reason it's curriculum was organized around it's philosophy. They all talk about the leadership's history and traditions, what they believe in, and how they're different from everyone else who may appear like them.

Which, in a sense, makes them no different from anyone else.

I'm not saying that understanding your organization's values is unimportant, but the most important part is how they're communicated internally and demonstrated externally.

Specifically that there should be a message to the members within the different levels of the organization to identify the big goals and the little goals along the way, facilitate the obtaining of those goals, and to give them a litmus test against the organization's values as to what's appropriate or inappropriate while reaching those goals.

That's all internal. The organizational culture.

Then there should be ANOTHER message (or OTHER messages) geared specifically toward who they want to serve as an organization. What's important to the client? The person needing guidance? The potential student?

That's external. The message-to-market match.

When the goal is to recruit people IN TO the organization - there's another message for that... and it's not the same message as you give to people who are already part of the culture. It's not the same as the message you give to the person the organization serves.

That's a whole different outbound.

The true significance of "brand values" then, on an external message is the litmus test. If "honesty" and "innovation" are principles you value, you need only be truthful in expressing the real benefit to the market that your creative solution provides.

I often tell my martial arts students this: integrity is not a "value" but a measure of how strictly one adheres to and acts according to their most highly valued principles. If you don't know what principles you value most highly you can't even begin to call yourself a person of integrity.

If your organization doesn't know what its values are you cannot begin to call your organization one of integrity - nor can you expect each department within it to be very tightly integrated. - by MarcEnriquez
Marc, your post is terrific and enlightening.

I don't entirely agree with the words I quoted above, but I do agree with the spirit that I believe was intended.

My take, based on what I've learned, is that an attempt to brand must be truthful (have integrity) or fail in that attempt.

Although honesty and integrity are priceless, a company could brand with those, and yet not value them necessarily as part of their culture. - by Ace Coldiron
Thanks, Ace!

I certainly agree with both your points - all branding should be truthful and that superficial branding without regard to the realities of the culture definitely exist.

Perhaps I should have left out the word "only" in the lines you quoted me on... it really isn't all you need to do...

The internal message within an organization is as important by nature of its effect as Autosuggestion is on an individual. (For those who aren't familiar with Autosuggestion, read Napoleon Hill's works like the Law of Success or Think and Grow Rich).

And that's vitally important because ANY organization is ultimately an extension of it's key or founding leader(s). That before the organization can be integrated, it's leadership must have integrity to it's most highly valued principles and must be continually reminded of those valued principles. When the leader feels that he or she can no longer serve and remain true to those principles, it's time for a new leader. - by MarcEnriquez
I love this forum thread. This is an excellant piece.

A question
How would a company differentiate their branding from the competition when the products are identical. The difference is the service and value provided to the client?

I would like to believe our branding is the long term solution to rid the problem,relationships, and service after the sale. Honesty,integrity,ethical behavior at all times. I am sure most companies will claim the same.

Am I wrong to think that is our brand? - by rich34232
No, certainly two companies can offer and even stand for the same thing. When it comes right down to it, though, do you know which company the customer will pick?

The one who takes time to get to know what their customers want.

It's like the story of Yahoo! and Google.

When a searcher comes to Yahoo! and says "I'd like some information," the response they get is "Ok, you want information? I got information! I got auto, business, celebrity gossip, finance, news; I got it all!"

When they go to Google and ask the same question, Google responds with "Ok, what do you want to know?" Nothing but a search box and two buttons.

You could say both are recognized as reliable sources of information - it's part of their respective brands.

But which one is recognized as having the number one search engine? Google. Google has the number one search engine because it made it's search engine its number one priority. What do customers want when they go to Google.com? The answer to their question. So as quickly as possible, Google delivers that. - by MarcEnriquez
If you want to talk about Branding, one of the very best has been Aflac and it didn't say nothing about nothing... just that duck.. according to Marketing, that accounted for over 90% Brand Recognition. Now they've got "We've got you under our Wing"... we'll see how this works for them.

I'd like to see an example however, of what we're talking about here.

Much Aloha,

:cool: - by rattus58
There are companies that are branded by name such as budwesier,miller high life, and more others by symbols. Still others are branded by both symbols and the name.I think those are obvious.

I would like to know more concerning the brand by word of mouth such as small companies.Even our company that has a brand name due to being in business 30 years.Our branding outside of the name is great service,service after the sale, relationships and value.Our company is known for having the very best technicians and when other companies cannot get the job done or provide a solution we are called.

But how do you advertise this brand other than word of mouth so the company does not get branded as being conceited or being seen as getting to big for our britches by the public? - by rich34232
But how do you advertise this brand other than word of mouth so the company does not get branded as being conceited or being seen as getting to big for our britches by the public?
That's a marketing question rather than a branding question. The rule is that when you are marketing service, the marketing IS IN the service.

With regard to branding, it would be near impossible to brand yourself successfully if the branding lacked integrity. You could attempt to brand "the best cup of coffee in town" but if it was not the best, it would not work. - by Ace Coldiron
Branding . . . we have something that can impact a life in a most meaningful way and we need to find people who want it.

The brand value is intrinsic, in the quality of the products and how we communicate that, in the company itself and how it has conducted itself.

But leading with your heart speaking heart to heart need to need from genuine desire to understand and help and improve - to embody and communicate the integrity of value as a living quality in each one of us - that's branding.

Some won't or can't do it. Some won't like it. Some will do it superficially and find some measure of success.

But these are my values and I am branded by them.

MitchM - by MitchM
I love this forum thread. This is an excellant piece.

A question
How would a company differentiate their branding from the competition when the products are identical. The difference is the service and value provided to the client?

I would like to believe our branding is the long term solution to rid the problem,relationships, and service after the sale. Honesty,integrity,ethical behavior at all times. I am sure most companies will claim the same.

Am I wrong to think that is our brand?
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Target? Wal-Mart? Of Joseph A. Bank? Of FedEx Kinko's? Of InstyPrints?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Hummer? Of Prius? Of Impala? Of Miata?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Ralph Lauren Polo? Of Gap? Of Liz Claiborne? Of Fruit of the Loom?

what the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Starbucks? Of Ed's Coffee Stop? Of Dunkin' Donuts?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bic? Montblanc? Of Parker? Of Flair? Of Sharpie?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Juan's Mexican Cafe? Of Chipotle? ChiChi's?

What the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Pottery Barn? Of Rubenstein's Furniture? Of "La-Z-Boy Gallery"? of "Ethan Allen?" Of "Strommen's Fine Furniture?"

The concept of branding suggests that customers often buy a brand instead of a product. It is the identity of the brand that fuels the sales, not the product itself, and the identity of the brand is in the collective minds of the marketplace.

I named my sales training company "Selling to Consumers" and I have a logo that looks like a retail price tag with a "S" in it. The "S" stands for "Selling" and it stands for my first name. My tagline is "Sales Training to Sell More." Almost everything I do is to build my brand as the #1 place to go for sales training for people who sell to consumers. I want to create that brand identity in the minds of potential clients. If you sell copiers to businesses, I'm not your trainer. But if you sell anything to a consumer, I'm you're guy!

There's a brilliant TV ad that has been receiving a lot of play in our local market for Jamison Irish Whiskey. There is no mention of quality, or service, or value, or anything similar until a graphic at the very end shows the word "taste."

But the ad conjures up a brand identity in the mind of the viewer. By using compelling visuals, a story-telling format, drama, and humor, an identity is created.

Keep this ad running for a while, ad print and other media to the mix, and promotions that support the brand identity, and you've created a brand identity, and then it has brand value.

So, branding doesn't necessarily have to do with quality, with service, with reliability, or any of those things. It has to do with an identity in the mind of the consumer.

Some time ago a product test was done with several bottled waters. In the test, the winner was tap water from St. Paul, Minnesota. It beat out all the bottled waters in the test. Yet, each brand of bottled water had a brand value that is separate from the quality of the product: Fuji, Evian, Dasani, etc.

I went to the department store and bought two men's shirts. Both were similar color, had a zipper, etc. One had a well-known men's clothing brand logo on it. I covered the logo and label with duct tape. This shirt was expensive.

The second shirt was an inexpensive store brand. I put duct tape over the label, and also over the area where the logo would be if it had a logo.

Then I passed it around to the participants in my training session asking them which one was more expensive. They had a chance to touch and feel the fabric, work the zipper, examine the stitching, and look closely at the product.

Every single participant chose the cheap shirt as being the more expensive one. Yet, this shirt cost less than half of the cost of the other shirt.

But when the duct tape is removed, and the power of the brands are now in full view, the result would be quite different.

Look at the posts here at SalesPractice. If you've hung around here for any length of time, you've developed an opinion about the identity of some of the other participants. Those participants have a "brand." That brand stands for something in your mind that's been created over time. When you see their name at the top of a post, you have certain expectations, certain feelings, you've reached certain conclusions, even before you've read the post.

The "brand" is in the mind of the market, or it's not really a brand.

Cheers,

Skip - by Skip Anderson
I named my sales training company "Selling to Consumers" and I have a logo that looks like a retail price tag with a "S" in it. The "S" stands for "Selling" and it stands for my first name. My tagline is "Sales Training to Sell More." Almost everything I do is to build my brand as the #1 place to go for sales training for people who sell to consumers. I want to create that brand identity in the minds of potential clients. If you sell copiers to businesses, I'm not your trainer. But if you sell anything to a consumer, I'm you're guy!
I believe your example is one of "positioning"--more so than branding.

Tom Hopkins and Zig Ziglar would be highly recognizable "brand names" in the sales training industry. They would not necessarily however be the "go to" guys for a company looking for on site sales training--accessibility being one obstacle. Having a recognizable name, and getting the name out to a specific market as "go to" people, I believe are two different things, although related. - by Ace Coldiron
"It is the identity of the brand that fuels the sales, not the product itself, and the identity of the brand is in the collective minds of the marketplace." - Skip

Marketing and advertising - all the promotion in the world - won't hold water for long if masses of people don't find something of value - of intrinsic value - in the product itself which will create the brand and a sustaining brand.

Of course in the world today lots of money can keep out the competition trying to make a mark but that's always been the case too.

Best to everyone trying to brand themselves.
MitchM - by MitchM
Branding and positioning are topics that need to be taken very seriously among professionals who sell.

I own two companies in two different industries. I am positioned well, unbranded, in a specific market with one company, competing against some entrenched brands. In the other, my partner and I have a rapidly growing brand, competing with others who are strongly positioned.

Contrary to popular belief, it is the markets themselves that both brand us and position us. In both cases we can speed the process with creativity if it is to take place at all. - by Ace Coldiron
"Contrary to popular belief, it is the markets themselves that both brand us and position us. In both cases we can speed the process with creativity if it is to take place at all." -- Ace

AND of course the markets i.e. people themselves will brand and position you along with your own creativity IF what you provides what they want. So it always gets back to real value.

Thoughts?

MitchM - by MitchM
"Contrary to popular belief, it is the markets themselves that both brand us and position us. In both cases we can speed the process with creativity if it is to take place at all." -- Ace

AND of course the markets i.e. people themselves will brand and position you along with your own creativity IF what you provides what they want. So it always gets back to real value.

Thoughts?

MitchM
One thought is that you should substitute "perceived value" for "real value" when you make that statement. But I believe you meant that.

This is a forum for people who sell. How many people in sales truly brand themselves--in the marketing sense of the word?

Or--are we talking about selling brands? - by Ace Coldiron
That's what I meant, Ace - perceived is real value to the one with the perception. Then I'd say if the product is appreciated and used for it's intended purpose with satisfaction it becomes a real value proposition for it's intended and unintended effects.

I believe this thread is about selling brands and branding - but that's a good question. When people call Ace wanting what Ace has to offer and they also refer people to Ace, then via quality and service and price satisfaction Ace has branded himself.

In fact, don't those satisfactions produce the branding by other people as much as any individuals attempt to brand him or herself?

Thoughts?

MitchM - by MitchM
In fact, don't those satisfactions produce the branding by other people as much as any individuals attempt to brand him or herself?

Thoughts?

MitchM
I believe more so, Mitch. However, keep in mind that much of the most successful branding of individuals has been done by diligent and creative promotion, often by others with a vested interest. Sam Phillips at Sun Records valued Elvis Presley's contract at a mere 35 grand. RCA Victor and Colonel Parker saw mega bucks with the right promotion and branding. - by Ace Coldiron
Got it!

Then comes finding and creating the right promotion and branding.

MitchM - by MitchM
Hi Snow man

An intersting topic and one most companies spend far to little time on.

I am working with a branding expert at the moment in our mastermind group. The key thing to remember is that branding is all about how "you" or your company make the client feel. We buy things for the feelings it gives us. Period. Think about it.

If you engender a specific feeling with a client you will move your business forward.

This also links with the different types of archetypes that people exhibit... you then link your brand to these people and attributes. So often companies attempt to be all things to all men and end up being nothing to nobody??!!

Best Wishes

SalesManagersCoach;sm
Excellent post.

Branding can be seen as the subset of Marketing and Marketing as the subset of political propaganda, all three of which stimulate us on the level of self identification, which is further based on sustained clusters of topical feelings.

To brand a product is to brand a country just as we are our own walking and talking brands of identity. The function of which is to offer meaning and value that communicates how people ultimately feel about their product, country and themselves.

As you nicely inferred, branding is not a "catch-all" concept for that approach can only foster schizophrenia. - by John Voris
I work with a 'Big 4' bank in Australia and we spend 2 days identifying our new recruits values and beliefs and clearly defining our own company's core values and beliefs.

I think it's very important. Great thread thmbp2; - by MrCharisma
It’s so fundamental for new recruits to get that info.
I do induction training for the biggest car retailer in Australia and we are very focused on their brand values. I also do sales training for a major luxury importer into Australia and they too are massive on brand values as i guess you’d expect... we get the recruits to identify all of the traits and aspects of quality of the European luxury car and then pose the question...”in what ways would you be improved if you were a (brand name)”? Very useful thought process... - by Tony Dunne
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.