more than frosting

September 27, 2023

written by
Stephanie Frier

Living Your Brand Values.

Have you ever looked at the most delightful cupcake with anticipation and then bitten into it with disappointment? The experience is ruined in an instant. There’s something especially betraying about a pretty promise and the investment of delight foiled, even if unintentionally. This is what it feels like when a brand isn’t living their values.

So, how do you invite a culture of expressive individualism to get real and go deeper? That’s really what we are talking about when we say, “live your brand values.” And if this language of brand sounds remarkably personal, it isn’t a mistake. It should be personal. Brands are relational. But the digital revolution has been an active stimulant for getting-noticed, quick-wit and easy to understand labels. Somewhere along the way identity became reduced to outward expression. What you look like. Who you say you are. What you offer the world. What you’ve achieved. That’s frosting.

Living brand values isn’t what you present to the world as a brand or a person. It’s what you truly believe and ultimately how you act on it. It’s what you do. It’s how you walk the talk. If you start with a canned group of five fast-food words that any business should act on, then you haven’t started with quality ingredients. So, before you evaluate how to live your values, take a closer look at what you say you believe, and ask yourself and your team, if the values show up in your day-to-day.

Living those values means consistently embodying and upholding them in all aspects of your brand’s expression and company operations. This means culture, and interactions with customers, team members, and the wider community. Brand values should be the fundamental beliefs that guide a company’s actions and decision-making. These values are not just words on a mission statement; they should be integrated into your company’s make-up as key ingredients and reflected in daily activities.

Here are 10 ways you can live your company’s brand values:

  1. Communication: Start here. Define your values, and make sure the same understanding is shared. Get clear and communicate your brand values both internally and externally. This helps team members activate their role in upholding these values and allows customers to make informed choices about supporting your brand.
  2. Consistency: Once your values are clearly defined you can begin ensuring your company’s actions always align with them. This consistency should be evident in your products or services, marketing campaigns, digital experiences, customer interactions, and team member behavior. Consistency over time builds trust. And in today’s world of real time evaluation, inconsistency begs to be called out.
  3. Transparency: Being transparent about your company’s values and how you are working to uphold them is essential. This includes openly discussing any challenges or mistakes and demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement. One way we keep the conversation open in our agency is to discuss our values with clients and team members, and then use those observations to hold ourselves accountable.
  4. Team Member Alignment: Your company’s people are the ones living the brand values. So, hire, train, and empower team members who share those values. Then provide a work environment that encourages and nurtures. Like attracts like. And if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to be honest about it. Putting your values out there gets you a great return on your vulnerability investment.
  5. Customer Experience: The way you treat your customers should reflect your brand values because you are nothing without them. This includes providing excellent customer service, addressing concerns promptly, and delivering on promises made in your branding. True authenticity means knowing your limits, so don’t over promise.
  6. Product and Service Development: If the cake tastes bad, who cares how pretty the frosting was? The development of products and services should also be guided by brand values. For example, if sustainability is a core value, your products should be designed with eco-friendly principles in mind.
  7. Community Engagement: You can demonstrate true commitment to your values by thinking outside the proverbial company box — engage in socially responsible initiatives and give back to your community. This can include philanthropy, supporting local causes, and non-profits.
  8. Leadership Example: It starts at the top. Company leaders should set the example by consistently embodying the brand values and using them when decision making on behalf of the company. When leaders live the values, it sends a strong message to team members and stakeholders.
  9. Measurement and Accountability: Establish metrics and performance indicators and hold individuals and teams accountable for their actions in alignment with your values. There are lots of fun tools out there to help. We use a custom tool we developed called the “Gold Star Board” to reward team members, quantify behaviors, and encourage our values-based environment.
  10. Feedback and Adaptation: It’s easy to be brand values-blind or to assume that those you work alongside have the same understanding of brand as you. So, be open to feedback from team members, customers, partners, and stakeholders. Use this feedback to refine your brand values and the way you live them.

Living brand values isn’t a one-time effort. It should be perpetual — constantly evolving and growing as your brand matures. Companies that successfully live their brand values often enjoy stronger brand loyalty, increased customer trust, and a more positive reputation.

Need a little help getting on task with the list above? We’ve got you — not because we offer it as a service, but because we truly believe and action against our own values every day. We’d love to show you what it means to:

Go hard or go home. (driven)
Be honest, not modest. (sincere)
Get [sh]it done. (committed)
Risk for reward. (fearless)
Make a difference. (people-centric)

Let’s chat.