use brand values to set your brand apart

Your brand values can be powerful for setting your brand apart and standing out. Your brand values aren't just something you right down and forget about, they are a guiding light that can propel your business forward and help you attract a passionate niche audience.

Examples of How Brand Values Can set Your Brand Apart

A few weeks back I got an email from a poet/writer. She said she noticed most writers websites were minimalist and understated. She wanted to know how she could do something different and make her brand stand out. I had a look around at the brand's of authors and writers that I thought stood out from the crowd, to see what it was that was setting them apart, and what I noticed is that they brought their values to the forefront. They were using their voice as a writer to speak up about things that they believed in, and those values were then reflected in the way they branded themselves.

This really set them apart, as their branding didn't just focus on the fact they were a writer, but on what made them different and their unique voice and the kind of people they wanted to attract.

One writer was a big advocate of body positivity, and included fun body positive illustrations and quotes in her brand, and shared very authentic real photos of herself. She wasn't trying to look perfect but rather shine light on being yourself and loving who you are.

Another writer was big on sustainability and zero waste, and her style was like a sketchbook/scrapbook with textures, hand written text and papers. This reflected the idea of using what you have and getting scrappy and not needing to buy things new, but re-use and waste less.

And another writer was big on community and family, and her brand felt very comforting and inviting, like you would be sitting in her kitchen talking while she was cooking.

Another good example of using your brand values to set your brand apart, was when I had my own skincare brand a few years ago. I had become interested in natural skincare products and using products without synthetic chemicals. After making some products for myself, I began to formulate my own product line to sell. My values included the use of natural products, a love of nature and supporting mothers (as part of the brand story was the fact I wanted to use better products in my home for my children). I soon found out that my customers, who valued natural products also valued sustainability and zero waste. So I began to use glass jars, and then took it a step further in how I branded and included a tag with the product that had a simple recipe on it, with something they could make to re-fill the jar. I also encourage re-using the jars on my instagram page, and re-posed any customer images.

Valuing nature, a lot of my visuals and photography was based around nature and plants and florals. And my value of supporting mothers, meant I would find mothers to use as micro influencers for the brand and sent them free products to try and share, and I also gave back a portion of profits from sales to a charity that supported mothers in countries that didn't have adequate resources.

Having these strong values helped attract a passionate group of customers who had similar values and not only purchased my products but also became friends, which built a sense of community.

Then later I had a client who was starting a skincare brand, and one of her main values was 'self love'. I suggested she create some self love affirmation cards that would come with the product. We ended up making affirmation cards and also putting affirmations on a drawstring bag for a product pack. It made the brand stand out, as you don't usually get affirmations with your skincare products. In her branding she also shared self love rituals and how to use the product as part of a ritual.

This is the power of clear brand values. It can set a brand apart and give it a unique voice that attracts people who will feel strongly about the brand because they have similar values.

Consider Your Own Values

When working out your brand values, start with your own values. Start considering what things matter to you and how those things might relate to your brand. Ask yourself what you would never do, what you don't want to compromise on, and what doesn't feel right to you. Then look at the opposite, what will you always do, what matters to you and what vibe do you want to bring.

Consider your audiences values

It’s also really important to consider what is important to your audience. What do they care about, what would be a turn off, what would attract them, what are they looking for, what do they feel is missing in the market? What frustrates them about others in your industry?

Over time you will learn more about what matters to your audience and you can hone in more on their values and respond to their concerns and the things they care about and make shifts in your brand to better serve them and better align your values with theirs.

Obviously you don’t want to be inauthentic and pretend to care about something that you really don’t care about just to cash in on a profitable niche value. It’s more about noticing areas where you can further improve, and things you can amplify more or ways you can make an even greater difference. Or in some cases begin to shift your own views as your audience educated you on matters you hadn’t really considered before.

Make Your Values Clear

Don’t just have a vague idea in your head about what your values are. If you want to use your values to direct your brand and help you come up with creative brand marketing ideas you need to make them clear.

Write down some words that describe your values, start broad, then group similar values to create a few encompassing values. Under each of your values write a bit about  what that value means to you. Everyone will see a value differently, so it’s important to get clear on what it means to you and how it will affect your brand.

You may also want to mention things you will never do, so if things come up, you will always be crystal clear on what you absolutely will not compromise on.

Using values to Guide Opportunities

Now you have some clear brand values, you can begin to brainstorm ways you can use those values to come up with creative ways to market and brand your business, to make it stand out.

I would suggest starting by writing out all touch points in your business e.g packaging, invoices, social media, emails. You may want to expand further to help find more opportunities.

Once you have these touch points, go over your values and begin to brainstorm ways you could approach these things in a way that aligns with your values.

Don't feel like this has to be a perfect list, get creative, write out even the crazy wild and silly ideas or even things you just don't have the resources to do. Once you have some ideas, you can begin to refine them to find opportunities that can be implemented now.

It may also help to speak with your audience. Find out what they feel is missing or they wish there was. Seek opportunity.

On the flip side, when a new opportunity comes your way, such as a new marketing platform, a collaboration offer or a sponsor, it is important to check if it aligns with your values or how you can make it align. If something doesn't initially align, don't feel like it has to be an instant 'no'. It could be an opportunity to do things differently. Consider if there is a way change it or do it differently to make it fit your values.

Audit Your Brand Through the Eyes of Your Values

Now when it comes to your brand identity and style, it's a good idea to review everything and audit your brand through the eyes of your brand values. Check over all your visuals, marketing, packaging, and all touch points and make sure everything currently aligns with your values. If anything doesn't or it is a little grey, these are areas you can improve and change and find opportunity to shake things up and stand tall on your brand values.

This is a chance to look for areas where you can improve and make change as well as spot new opportunities that you may have overlooked.

Think about it from your customers percpective. How are they currently experiencing your brand, and where might there be some disconnect.

So get creative, clearly define your values and seek opportunities to make a stand and stand out.

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