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How to Determine Brand’s Values | Building a Brand

July 5, 2019
Szymon Zurek
10 min
a valuable metal watch on an elegant black background

How to Determine Brand’s Values

To make it easier, we will be building an imaginary brand, so first, we have to determine brand’s values. If you need a recap on what a brand is, go to our “Newbie Introduction to Branding” article.

This article is the first in the series and so when building a brand we need to start with identifying the brand values. Remember that a brand is a promise and underneath that promise must be a supporting set of values. Refer to our article on how brands create customer loyalty and trust. They are like a foundation underneath the home. For example, if I make a promise to you, It’s because I believe certain things are important. Otherwise, I wouldn’t make the promise. The same is true of brands that we create in marketing. Think of determining brand values as the key behaviours or virtues of the brand that need to be expressed consistently, day in and day out. Together, these values form the essence or theme of the brand so they are like a belief system of the brand.

Where to Start to Identify your Brand’s Values?

To determine brand’s values you must start by understanding the overall marketing strategy of your business. What kind of products and services do you offer? What are the key trends and new opportunities in your markets? Who are your customers? And who are your competitors? You must analyze these to determine what your overall value proposition in the marketplace is. You need to have a solid marketing strategy before you can build a solid branding strategy. The two are closely linked.

Our little brand building case study

For this article (and future articles), we will use a hypothetical company that wants to create a brand for one of its new products. Let’s assume we’re in the jewellery business. We’re coming out with a new line of smart rings that integrate with other tech products like smartphones. Let’s say that our strategy is to create a ring ideally suited for families. But not just families in general, we are targeting the parents. Specifically, we want to position our ring as the ideal ring for moms and dads. Let’s call it the “parent ring” for now. Given our marketing strategy, how do we determine brand values? We want to create a brand that delivers this promise of being the ideal ring for parents.

smart ring concept art on How to Determine Brand's Values
By designmilk on Flickr

Let us take our example into more practice

We start by determining brand values that this new brand must have for this promise to have any meaning to it. So we start by listing beliefs that people might have about parents. For example:

  • parents are special
  • being a parent is an important role in the life of many moms and dads
  • being a parent is hard work
  • parents do everything they can to help their families.

By creating this list, we are looking for one or a collection of some of these to shape and form the main theme of our new brand. We want to create a sentence that conveys what the brand is all about and something that will determine the brand values. Something like:

“Being a parent is an important role to help children, so we help parents”

It’s linked directly to our strategy. And it has a strong emotional appeal because we are underlying the fact that parents are important. This is just a quick example to get the idea across to you. But for now, let’s stick with this as the core purpose of the parent ring brand. The one sentence explains both why the new product/brand exists, and what it believes. This is how we start to determine the brand values.

How to Determine Brand Values Summary

Take a look at the brands you have now or the brand you want to create. Ask yourself these questions. What is the belief system underneath those brands? Is it linked to your marketing strategy? Is it clear what this brand stands for now, and what it wants to be in the future? Building a strong foundation is the crucial first step to bring your brand to life.

What Defines a Brand – the Brand Drivers

Brand’s values form the foundation of the brand. But now on top of that foundation, you need to build around the definition of the brand. Think of it as expanding and stretching it out. You do that by creating brand drivers.

What are Brand Drivers?

Brand drivers are more detailed and descriptive aspects of the brand. They come in different forms. Maybe they could be attributes to the brand itself. They could be functional or emotional benefits that the brand delivers. They could be self-expressive benefits. In other words, how does the customer perceive themselves when consuming the brand. What do they identify with? To create brand drivers, you must make an exhaustive list of phrases or sentences about the brand that stretched the brand’s core purpose. Don’t worry too much about the wording of these and don’t try to filter them. Later on, you will group them into similar categories. And that’s where you’ll edit them to get the most relevant brand drivers.

Relate Brand Drivers to our Case Study

Let’s go back to our case study of the new brand for a smart ring that is ideal for moms and dads so that we . We call it the parent ring. Its core value is the parent ring celebrates parenthood by helping parents be the very best they can be. Given that, what else might this new brand be about? Let’s start with the list we had already.

  • Parent ring believes that parents are special.
  • Being a parent may be the most important role in a person’s life because they determine the worlds future.
  • Being a parent is hard work.
  • Parents do everything they can to help their families.

Let’s create more by asking ourselves, what else goes into being a great parent?

Let’s write this from a parent point of view:

“Parent ring helps me do the impossible by balancing tasks and getting it all done in the day.”
“It helps me protect my family”.
“The ring lets me perform my duties at home, work and everywhere else”.
“It helps me stay connected to my kids”.
“The ring lets me teach my kids important life lessons”.
“It makes it fun to be a mom or dad”.
“Wearing the parent ring tells the world that I care about my family because of the values it represents”.

About creating the brand driver list

We’re creating a list of specific things that are important to our target audience. Then we take those and turn them into attributes of the brand itself, or a benefit that the brand delivers. When you do this for your brand, you should have several dozen of these. Try to create as long a list as possible.

Grouping the brand driver into categories

Then group into categories such as functional benefits, the basic job that the product does, the emotional benefits, how our product makes a consumer feel and economic benefits, how our product saves time and money. As well as that there are, self-expressive benefits, how a product makes us appear to others and other types of benefits such as benefits to society or to the environment.

Refining the brand drivers into one sentence

Now once they’re grouped into categories, we look for ways to refine or combine them into a more coherent list. For example, these two drivers, “parent ring helps me do the impossible by balancing tasks and getting it all done in a day” and “parent ring helps me perform my duties at home work and everywhere else”. It seems similar. Perhaps we could tie these up into one phrase such as “parent ring helps me balance multiple tasks at work, home and everywhere else”. Brand drivers put more meaning into the brand. We call them drivers because these are the ideas that you use to express and communicate what your brand is all about.

Our Favorite Sources when it to Brand Development and Strategy

Chris Do

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