Picture yourself walking down the street and seeing a person walking towards you. When you look at their clothes, demeanor, age, hairstyle, and posture– you begin forming your perceptions about that person. Are they friendly? Do they share similar interests with you? Are they a threat? What kind of work do they do? All of these thoughts begin subconsciously every time we encounter a new person. You can usually tell a lot about what a person values just by their appearance.
Though we're taught not to judge people on their appearance, we still do. And we judge brands the same way.
Your brand's appearance should accurately reflect your brand.
So what determines what your brand really is? Values.
Just like people, organizations are lead by values. If your restaurant is going to connect on a human level, you need to understand what drives your brand. Brand values can then be properly portrayed in how your company presents itself. These values should become a part of the culture and influence decision-making throughout all levels of the business.
Types of Brand Values
To bring clarity, let's separate brand values into two categories.
1. Character Traits
Brand character traits can be thought of as how you think. This bores down to who you really are.
Examples are: Hard-working, Caring, Humble, Flashy, Provocative, Traditional, Family-Minded, etc.
2. Personality Traits
Brand personality traits can be thought of as how you act. This is the way you treat others and how you interact with your customers.
Examples are: Professional, Funny, Warm, Compassionate, etc.
Values Direct your Team
To build a consistent reputation, your values will need to be known throughout all levels of the organization.
If you desire to build a particular perception, you will need everyone to be working toward that goal. All decision-making throughout the organization should be filtered through the brand values. When this becomes a reality, you will notice that your team will perform more effectively.
Values Influence your Communication
You need to communicate a consistent message throughout promotions, social media and verbal communications.
Brand values will provide the framework. If being humorous is one of your personality traits, there are many ways to reinforce that in your messaging, design and visuals.
Identifying your Brand Values
If you are starting a new company, you have a blank slate and can set the course for how the brand should think and act.
If you are already established, your goal is to uncover and add clarity to the values that already drive you and your company.
Strong brands are self-aware and are built on authenticity. While it’s good to set goals and improve, don’t try to portray yourself as something you’re not.
Identifying brand values is just one of the building blocks in an effective brand strategy.
You should also clearly define your ideal customer profile, brand positioning, value proposition, and survey existing customers to gauge perceptions in the real world.
Once you have a clear plan in place you can begin to use design and communication as tools to improve your reputation. With the right message, strategic design, and consistent execution– you can begin moving forward in the marketplace.
By Dustin Myers, Foodable Industry Expert