With the right core values, customers know what you stand for. And that is what you want!
Customers and (future) employees are always looking for connections with which they can identify. To be able to identify with a company or person, the core values and vision have to be the same as the core values you are striving for at that moment. For example, this could be a core value of fighting animal cruelty or training people to be the best they can be.
When people recognize themselves in your core values, a natural interest arises. This interest makes these people more likely to want to discover your story and more likely to get behind your business than anyone else's. It is the beginning of a strong relationship. But how do you ensure that customers can identify with your core values?
Core values are found everywhere. Politicians use core values on their election posters, organizations like Black Lives Matter proclaim various core values during protests, and businesses write out core values on their cafeteria walls.
Core values shape our character. It influences the way we speak, how we express ourselves, and serve as a guide in making important decisions. You could describe core values as: situation-independent decision helpers. So no matter what context you are in, when making a decision, you hold on to your core values.
When you work for a company or have your own business, it is important to write out the core values. Only then do the people around you know what you really stand for. Many companies portray their core values with just words like: "We stand for honesty, innovation and quality". But how do the people around you know what that really means to you? And how do they know what actions they need to take to contribute to it? An owner or manager can't possibly walk into an office with just the written word "honest" and say to someone, "be honest" when that person has probably never felt they have been dishonest.
A good core value is written out, realistic, gives your staff something to do and creates action. If the above company had written on the wall instead of the word "honest"; "always tell the truth, no matter what" people would know what to do and it would be easier to live up to that particular core value.
The benefit of writing out your core values has already been explained above but it can be made even clearer. You can transform your written out core values into a manifesto/brand story. In this story, you can underpin your core values with examples so that people are more likely to identify with you or your company. One of the greatest examples of such a manifesto is the Bible. A book full of stories that help us - the reader - to identify earlier with the core values of the Christian faith. But these days it can all be much sexier (and shorter). In the form of a compact brand story or even a strong brand video.
A common mistake is for companies to write out their core values, vision or manifesto based on their own products and services. When you do that, you are actually writing for yourself. You then get phrases such as: 'The highest quality at the best price' or 'The largest range, always close by'. These are uninspired sentences that fail to captivate a target audience . Such sentences do not motivate the target audience to apply for a position in your company, for example. After all, who says; "It's so cool to work at this company. We have a really great offer".
So it is important to write out your core values but in the language of the target audience. That way the target audience recognizes themselves in your brand values. They get a confirmation that it is a good idea to choose your brand.
What do such brand values look like? Here are three examples:
"Think big. Never settle; challenge what's possible."
"We exist to build great people who can do extraordinary things."
"We define our success from how we've touched people's lives"
That's quite a difference isn't it? These sentences visualize the core values, inspire the target audience and give the company a fantastic foundation to write the manifesto and grow the company into something that breathes inspiration. With these sentences, you are not 'just' a company, you have an identity.
The core values you establish function as the foundation for your business. From the core values, you create your own culture, your own goals and your own vision. But don't keep these core values to yourself. Share them with your target audience, with your staff and with your external parties so everyone knows what the brand stands for. Don't do this with single words but in sentences that cannot be misinterpreted. Turn these into a manifesto/brand story/brand video and you make it clear to everyone why they should choose you! This will add value to your brand, help you inspire people and advance your business on every level.