Adam Goulston, MS, MBA, MISD, is a US-born, Asia-based marketer, copywriter, and editor. His company Scize helps businesses, organizations, and scholars communicate their value globally.
10 min. read
Updated October 27, 2023
Your brand’s connection with your customer is strengthened with good storytelling that’s authentic and that’s true to your brand’s values. Clear, well-intentioned core values will consistently resonate. This makes them essential.
By focusing on what you stand for and weaving that into your content and communications, what you share with your customers becomes linked with how they will view you. They want to share your values. It influences their decision to buy from you: 77% of them, says one study.
Value-driven content makes an impact from hyper-local to global campaigns. This article shows how to make this approach work for your organization, starting with the values themselves.
We’ll also look at brands from around the world that have mastered creating a strong mix of content built around brand values and a story that connects with their customers.
Core values should be the unseen heart of your brand. They help tell potential customers what it is you stand for. They have nothing to do with selling.
A brand is about so much more than the products or solutions you sell.
Your brand values set you apart from your competitors by letting them know what it’s like to buy from you. They are your driving, but unseen, force. For this reason, they’re typically written into your mission statement.
Although many parts of your company may change over the years, like your logo, website, marketing campaigns, and even the products you sell, your core brand values should remain solid. They can be revised, though seldom should they totally change course.
Customers want to buy from brands that stand behind values they can relate to. But defining your core values can be a challenging task. When you do discover them and meticulously refine them, they’ll help build brand affinity and customer loyalty. Don’t put them off, either.
These values are essentially promises of how your brand currently acts and will continue to act, so you need to make sure they’re true. These are the key components for defining good core values:
This might seem obvious, but your values should not look like those of any of your competitors.
It’s not enough to just say or write them; you have to be able to prove to your customers how you’re achieving them.
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Vague statements like “we value our customers” don’t cut it. What company wouldn’t say that? Explain yourself clearly and make sure the values are easily understood organization-wide. Better: “we treat our customers like we expect to be treated.” Even better: “We aren’t satisfied unless our customers are thrilled.”
Sharing your brand’s core values allows you to connect with your consumer base on a deeper level and drive more sales. According to Harvard professor and market insights analyst Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions are triggered by the unconscious. That’s exactly where your core values are staying with your customers.
Your brand’s values help you become more memorable, and when faced with options for the next purchase, customers are going to go with the brand they remember positively. That’s more than a cognitive memory, it’s a feeling, an affinity.
The idea of positive reinforcement is so critical for a winning marketing strategy and for creating a brand that brings up positive feelings across regions. Delivering marketing campaigns that use universally understood core values will help your brand connect. As you look to grow, it can also help you overcome any regional, cultural, or geographic barriers.
Values in your marketing can help create consistency for your customers when interacting with your brand too. With consistency, your audience understands who you are as a company better and will also help define what a prospect will experience, feel, and expect from engaging with your brand.
Your brand’s core values also form brand storytelling and can help bring your content marketing activity to a whole new level.
Content continues to dominate marketing budgets and for good reason. It continues to drive traffic to websites, increase email opens, and as a lead generation tool, content remains king. The whole point behind creating content is to start a conversation with your audience, to understand what it is they are looking for from you. Then you provide information in an engaging, thought-provoking way.
Ever wonder what separates decent content from content that your customers enthusiastically share and talk about? The answer relates to value — both in providing valuable content to your customer and creating content that represents your own company’s values.
Any content you produce should offer value to your customers. Putting out fresh and relevant content is key for driving success in your target market as well as attracting ideal customers and ultimately growing your brand recognition.
By doing this, your brand becomes recognizable, and your content makes you knowledgeable about the subject matter, earning the customer’s trust.
People buy from companies they know, like, and trust. Content that explains and shares your brand’s core values are more likely to connect with customers. When your values align with theirs, a deep relationship is formed that will go well beyond the initial purchase and into establishing brand loyalty.
A good place to start to think about where to bring in value-driven content is your website, as it’s the digital storefront for your business. There are many opportunities within the site to include content that will highlight your core values and resources to help bring them to life.
This can be website content in the form of product descriptions, the About Us page, or even within the blog. Be sure to double-check the copy is well-tied to your core values and helps to tell the story of your brand.
Values can also be about the people so why not look inward at your company’s employees or share stories about company culture to provide a window into how your organization operates. This level of transparency can go a long way in building trust with your customer base as you’ll provide them a sneak peek into your process and your people.
Here are some great examples of brands showcasing values in their marketing approach:
Not surprisingly from a global sports apparel producer, Adidas focuses its values on competition and winning, with a value-based marketing strategy called Own the Game. By relating to people’s desire to win and their competitive nature, Adidas uses advertising messaging like “Play to Win” and “Impossible is Nothing” to relate to its customers and try to drive sport forward.
Producing video content with global soccer/football stars, Adidas employs a universally understood concept of inevitable change and that to win, sometimes you have to create your own rules.
This speaks to the company’s consumers, who may not be pro athletes, but they combine sport and lifestyle. To deepen the relationship with its consumers, Adidas put forward the notion that through sport, people have the power to change their lives and to win. That’s something people want to be on board with.
Quirky ice cream makers, Ben & Jerry have always done things a little differently and their values are no exception. Going beyond quality in its products, Ben & Jerry’s also has core values built around its economic and social responsibilities as manufacturers. It makes a promise to its customers to be conscious of how it does business and to ensure that it benefits everyone from its suppliers to their neighbors.
Woven through its brand stories and web content is real information and transparency into how the company does business; from videos about its supply chain to blog spotlights on its different ingredients.
The company has managed to build a deep level of trust and affinity among its consumers, and there’s an authenticity that permeates the company’s marketing strategy. It’s anti-establishment, pro-Earth, but not radically so. So, when it comes down to choosing between Ben & Jerry’s and a big corporate name, the choice is a bit easier. It doesn’t hurt that the ice cream is also delicious.
Chilean-based luxury fashion label Voz is known for its beautiful clothes made from natural materials, but with core values deeply entrenched in environmentalism and ethically sourced practices, the brand is also a global beacon for the sustainable fashion movement.
With sustainability top of mind for Voz, its designers are dedicated to revitalizing ancient weaving techniques in its production process that are indigenous to the region. Voz also has values around tackling fair labor practices in the fashion industry, so it hosts spotlight interviews on its website for advocates and activists in this area to give them a voice through its own brand’s platform.
This one’s a good example of the long-term potential. Japan’s Bummeido makes castella/castilla, the beloved sponge cake from Portuguese origins. It’s been at it for over a century and is known across Japan. Bunmeido has a great story, though its English site needs better translation and localization to convey its value.
Similar to beloved US ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, Bunmeido’s built brand trust and loyalty through sharing its production process and its reasoning behind its selection of ingredients. It took transparency a step further by sharing its storied history.
Bunmeido has kept its original and traditional manufacturing methods for more than 100 years, ensuring top-notch product quality but also reminding consumers that their experiences with this brand will be consistent and will meet their expectations. The castella-making process is handed down from craftsman to craftsman. Bunmeido employs this use of historical storytelling in its marketing to not only keep existing customers coming back but also bring in new ones built on this reputation of excellence.
It does have global appeal and some success. With a bit of web reform, it could avoid the mistakes of many Asian websites when they have a go at English.
Continuously ranked as one of the most valuable global brands, Samsung invested billions of dollars to reposition itself from a producer of tech knock-offs to a digital powerhouse.
Competing against the likes of Sony in the early days, but without the Made in Japan brand value, and now with borderless Apple, Samsung works hard to communicate values of quality, credibility, and design. It seeks to imply that it puts integrity into its products and places people’s experiences first.
Samsung sets itself apart with its design, which tows the line between high-tech and what people expect. It’s not often as creative or chic as Mac, but it’s always a strong competitor. And features such as processors, cameras, and pixels on the screen may be a step above. It explores many different marketing channels and content mediums to allow consumers to experience its design talents firsthand.
Using unique channels like 3D games in movie theaters, free content downloads from kiosks, and even short films on social media, along with conventional TV and public ads, all helped Samsung drive awareness and prioritize the customer experience.
Building a brand with a well-regarded reputation and loyal customers is no small feat. Successful brands figure out what is unique about their purpose before focusing on the product and share that story as authentically and consistently as possible.
Smaller businesses don’t need the massive appeal of B2C brands like Samsung or Ben & Jerry’s. They may in fact appeal because of the personal touch and smaller scale. These are all communicated in the brand value.
As more brands compete for digital advertising space, customers will look for companies that are leading with values. And they’ll buy from those they want to identify with.