Three Reasons Why You Do Need Those Values and Principles.

Patagonia’s Black Friday Ad — A fine example of Values and Principles in action.

More often than not, clients that come to us looking for a brand want to jump straight to the sexy aspects of the work. So in our collective minds, Story, Pitches, Personality, and Brand Identity are way more interesting than some of the other fundamental elements of creating and managing a brand.

A brand is a promise. And that promise is delivered by people that work inside, outside, or around the brand. But how can we get the same people to behave in alignment with what the brand believes?

That’s where Values and Principles come in.

Let’s have a few definitions to ensure we are all talking about the same things.

  • Values are the rules of engagement between the brand and the world. For example, values determine how the brand answers the call if a customer complains about a product or policy.

One of the Values at Zappo’s is to be “passionate and determined.” That value leads to the legendary customer service we all recognize as part of the brand Zappo’s.

  • Principles are the laws of the brand that guide the interaction between human beings. For example, principles will help determine how hierarchy is applied.

One of the Principles at Google is “Innovation can come from anywhere.” That principle helps Google keep the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person) in check.

Now that we are on the same page regarding Values and Principles, here are three reasons you must develop and make your brand’s Values and Principles visible to all.

The people the work in the brand determines the culture of a brand.

Hiring: How can we know how to hire, provide feedback, train, promote, and fire people if we don’t have a well-established set of Values and Principles that guide the behavior of those involved with the brand?

Since it’s well-known that it’s relatively easy to teach skills but incredibly hard to culture, why not hire people who already think the way you do.

The way Chewy.com cares for customers cannot simply be the result of internal processes. Instead, it’s likely a result of people who love pets and understand the pains of pet lovers like them.

Managing the Business: If it is one thing sure about having a business is that problems will abound.

Daily, your business will face questions, inquiries, challenges, and opportunities. How can we decide how to answer each one without a well-defined set of Values and Principles?

Take Tony Chocolonely as an example. The brand has only used cocoa from clean (non-slave labor) sources. It is refreshing that the brand has not compromised its values even with price increases.

The same applies to opportunities. Every year, Patagonia runs the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad campaign. Even though the end of the year is when most companies in the business of protecting people from the cold make their money, Patagonia is unwilling to compromise its values and principles.

Managing Growth: As your business grows, the leaders who originally conceived the idea will be farther away from the everyday business. Chances are that new leaders will have different ideas about managing the brand and interacting with the world and each other.

KitchenAid products were famous for their heft and craftsmanship. However, it all came crashing when the brand decided to license kitchen utensils without much weight. A $5 potato peeler made in China did wonders to challenge the previously established notion of quality products.

That decision had nothing to do with the original Hobart people but with a new wave of brand leaders that were laser-focused on revenue.

For any brand to be successful, it must build trust. And trust is a result of discipline and consistency. So your values and principles can be a powerful tool to help you manage your business and create the trust that will lead to long-term success.

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Luis Pires

Luis Pires

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Luis Pires is the founder of Squared Brand + Marketing and dedicated to helping entrepreneurs create authentic and differentiated brands that matter.