When I started my business, it didn’t seem that important to me to define my values. To me, that seemed like something the big businesses did; the ones who had shareholders to answer to and all those big fancy things.
But, as I wrote a little while ago, when I began my rebrand I decided to dive into the world of brand values. Doing so led to a huge amount of clarity about what I was writing and who I was writing it for. If I may be so bold as to quote myself, here’s a little snippet of that article:
It can help you to identify your target audience, and define your point of difference. Having defined values can help you to identify the trajectory of your business, and allow you to feel confident in your decisions about the type of people you choose to work with.
But how do you get those values to shine through in your messaging?
This process should fortunately be pretty straightforward for a lot of businesses. For example, while it’s not one of my defined brand values, I know I only ever want to promote brands that are inclusive, sustainable and ethical, while also being a voice for small and local businesses. Therefore I take care with the accounts I interact with, the props I use in photos, and the brands I tag and share in Stories.
For a lot of people, it may simply be a matter of slightly changing the way that you talk / write. For example, I made the conscious decision to reduce the number of exclamation marks I was using in order to appear more friendly and relatable (I personally see excessive exclamation marks as the hallmark of corporate brands trying to appear relatable - but that’s just a personal opinion...). I also let myself relax about sharing photos of myself with a glass of wine, or dropping the odd swear word in my captions. In short, it’s important to me and my brand to seem like a real person, chatting to you the way a real person would if they were sitting opposite you in the cafe.
You may also notice that when I’m giving examples in blog posts like this, I usually use sustainable and ethical brands, real or imagined!
For some brands, this may be more obvious. For example a product based brand that values sustainability and inclusivity (ha, see?), then every product and promotional image you subsequently create should embody that ethos. I consider TALA to be an excellent example of a brand that embodies their values in every move they make, from the products they create, the packaging choices they make, and right through to the images they share.
For service based businesses, it’s about making conscious choices in your language, such as saying “people who menstruate” instead of “women” so that you’ve included trans and non-binary people as well. It’s also important to diversify who you follow, hire, work with and share posts from; trust me, people (like me) are paying attention to these things!
It’s not enough to just say “I’m a sustainable brand”; you have to show it to people again and again until it’s what you become known for, from using keep cups to having an occasional thrift shop haul or talking about your compost. Just like you can’t just say “we’re innovative” if you still have a paper filing system, or use a fax (oooh, the shade).
And this is what I mean when I say, defining your brand values can help you feel confident in the decisions you make about who you work with. A sustainable brand isn’t really going to work with a coal mining company, or a fast fashion brand that sells cheap shirts for $5, nor will they use single use plastics in their packaging.
So, have you defined your business values? If not, my previous post on values may just be what you need to figure them out!
Until next time, look after yourself!