How to Ensure Your Brand Messages and Values Align
How do you ensure the messages your brand relays in both overt and underlying messages are in line with the values you aim to convey?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Ensure a Consistent Narrative
My brand narrative is consistent, and my company culture is predicated on my narrative. Any message, whether in a newsletter, social communication, new product or even a meeting, has derivatives of the narrative and culture. I started as an immigrant and built my business from the ground up; my values and those of my team are very closely aligned with the concepts of constant learning and honesty.
2. Explicitly Discuss Your Values
Listing out a few values for your brand isn’t enough. You need to discuss what those values mean. If your organization values diversity but your board and executives all come from similar backgrounds, you need to discuss what your organization is doing to improve diversity in leadership long before you start planning brand messaging about your organization’s commitments to diversity.
3. Remember Every Employee Represents Your Brand
This is a valuable lesson I learned in high school while working at a little corner deli in New Jersey. Your customers can always buy similar products elsewhere. What they’re really paying for is your service. Every person in your organization, from the janitor, to the doorman, to the CEO, represents the brand, and the message should never change: quality, consistency, and training.
4. Have a Personal Cabinet
When attempting to reconcile your brand messages with your values, it may not be the best idea to consult with fellow team members. They might be biased in ways that you can’t observe. Instead, my advice is to consult a personal group of friends or close family members that share your values. This is the best way to truly ascertain if your values are honestly and genuinely being represented.
5. Use Customer Surveys
Every message has a key takeaway that aligns back to your values and your brand. I usually use surveys to ensure that my brand is being exposed with my values. I ask my audience what words describe my brand. When I receive responses, I know which direction to steer to keep my audience engaged. There is a fine line between your message and values and your audience. Are you bridging the gap?
6. Hold Brainstorming Sessions
We have a brainstorming session with the entire team regarding our company values, mission and vision. It’s more likely that when we discuss and consider feedback from employees, they remember the values for a long time and always stick with those. We also send a series of reminders on our company Slack channel where we share the values, vision and mission so that those are consistent everywhere.
7. Define Your Brand First
By clearly defining your brand, you create a lens that you view every communication and message through. This isn’t something simple or quick — a brand definition should be several creative brainstorms that stretch over a few days every few months, as our brands evolve constantly. When looking at messages being relayed by your brand, make sure they make sense with that brainstorm!
8. Believe in Your Message
It is impossible to adequately convey a brand message without actually believing the message. Internally, each member of the team must truly believe in the brand and mission of the brand. This communal belief will shine through in all the steps that are taken to overtly convey the message and the underlying belief will be apparent to your clients as well.
9. Partner With a Cause
The message of my brand is always about helping someone or something on the planet every time an item is sold. In order to stay on point, we partner with charities and organizations. In the past, this has included an underwater campaign to bring awareness to domestic abuse, fashion shows to promote world peace, and a tree planting campaign related to the sales of garments.
10. Be Your Brand
If you live and breathe your brand, it will effectively reflect the values you aim to convey, as it will authentically reflect your values. Brands that are built on the basis on authenticity can endure, as the underlying and overt messaging will consistently reflect what the brand truly represents.
11. Create Style Guides
Create a proper style guide for your brand that covers not only visuals but content and your values as well. All of our content creators and marketers are in house and follow the same documentation and guidelines. Our chief editor has final sign off on almost all content created and also understands our values the best.