Micro and Side Hustle Business Branding: The Value of Brand Values
Before we decide to buy something from a new company, it’s very likely that we’ll do some online research.
This will typically include reading through their website and blog, checking customer comments and testimonials, and scrolling their social media feeds.
We do all this because we want to know what that company is really like, before we become a customer.
I don’t know about you, but for me there’s something very disappointing about feeling I’ve got to know a company, trusting its tone and style, then experiencing something completely different after I’ve made contact.
It could be that their website led you to expect a friendly or informal welcome, but when you speak to someone in person, they’re offhand or uninterested.
It could be that their advertising made you feel as though you would be getting a high-quality product, but it arrives in a scruffy box with no attention to detail.
These are both examples of brand values gone seriously wrong!
Your brand values are the promises your business is making to the world, and it’s your job to make sure they are kept.
Branding Basics: a Quick Recap
I have previously covered the importance of branding which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t confined to a company’s logo.
Put simply, your brand exists in people’s minds as something that instantly defines you. It’s a collection of thoughts and feelings that customers have about a particular product or service.
As a micro or side hustle business owner, your brand has to be honest and consistent. You have to make sure it truly reflects who you are, and what you do.
(This won’t just help you build trust with your potential customers, it will also give you a fantastic head start when it comes to marketing. A strong brand is the perfect communication point – because you will know exactly who to target, and with what information).
Why Does Your Brand Exist?
In my last post, I asked you to think about why your brand exists. Not considering this is one of the most common branding mistakes I’ve witnessed.
So if you haven’t done this already, grab a piece of paper and complete the following sentence:
“My brand exists because…”
Once you have a clear purpose for your brand, it’s time to move on to establishing those values.
Your Values are the Core of Your Brand
What do you stand for? Not just as a business, but as a person?
If you study some of the world’s most successful brands, you’ll notice that many of them have kept the core values of the founders as they grew (think about Apple or Virgin, for example).
So now I’m going to guide you through an exercise that will help you define your brand values – and keep those promises your business is making to the world!
1. Brainstorm Key Words and Phrases
Grab another piece of paper, this time to scribble down all the words and phrases that best describe you and your values.
This will need some serious thought – not to mention personal honesty – so don’t rush it. Take a few days if you need them.
(One of my key phrases is “fun-loving” – after all, I’d spent years working for someone else, and I wanted working for myself to be a lot more enjoyable!)
2. Search for Common Themes
Read through your completed list and start merging words that are similar into themes that you feel get to the heart of things. For example, “honesty” and “trustworthiness” are similar, so if you had to pick just one, which would it be?
3. Hone to Perfection…
…until you’re left with five distinct words or phrases that describe exactly who you are.
But that’s not it! Now you’re going to put those values to the test…
4. Ask for Feedback
Ask at least ten others (choose a variety of people that include friends, colleagues, clients, family members…you get the idea) to come up with five words or phrases they would use to describe you.
This is best done via email, rather than face-to-face or on the telephone.
Tell them not to provide any explanation for the words or phrases they have chosen – all you want is the words themselves.
5. Compare Your Words with Theirs
Create a grid for your words and others’ and look for the similarities.
This step really is crucial – because you have to ensure that what you think about yourself is consistent with the impression you make on others.
You should now have a clear purpose for your brand, and five strong words that perfectly describe your core values.
If you want to go further, you could also create a Personal Code. This consists of a short set of statements (usually ten) that you develop from your brand values.
As an example, if “fun-loving” was one of your phrases, your personal code could include statements such as “I will have fun”, and “I will enjoy life!”
What better brand values to have?
My e-book, Five and a Half Steps to a Brilliant Business Brand, goes into these exercises in a little more detail, as well as guiding your entire branding process from start to finish.
Download it here, and don’t forget to leave any comments or questions below.