Consumers have virtually limitless choices on the market today, yet somehow the truly exceptional brands stand out.
How? With clearly defined vision and values that build deep connections with customers.
What are brand vision and values—and why do they matter?
A brand vision starts with the brand’s identity and market stance, then defines the trajectory of its future course. Brand values, the foundational beliefs of the brand, guide these actions, such as diversity, solidarity, environmental awareness, or transparency.
Together, brand vision and values provide:
- A sense of direction. If you don’t know where your brand is going, you can’t form a clear view of the steps you must take now to get there. Your brand strategy should be based on a clear mission and vision that establishes the perception you want your customers and employees to have.
- Market differentiation and brand memorability. The importance of a clearly defined brand vision becomes obvious when you’re planning your brand strategy. It forms the foundation of market differentiation and ensures your brand is memorable to customers. Without a clear vision statement and values, the meaning and personality of your brand may not stand out. Customers won’t have anything to connect with.
- Decision-making guidance. A brand with a clear vision and strong values reminds employees of what the brand stands for and what it’s working toward. This guides both short- and long-term decision-making and helps your business get closer to its goals by keeping employees aligned with the organizational values.
Brand vision and values example
The Swedish furniture brand IKEA is a good example of a strong vision and values. The vision statement is:
“To create a better everyday life for many people”
IKEA also has six key values:
- Togetherness. Togetherness is at the heart of IKEA culture. We are strongest when we trust each other, pull in the same direction, and have fun together.
- Caring for people and planet. We want to be a force for positive change. We have the possibility to make a significant and lasting impact—today and for the generations to come.
- Cost-consciousness. As many people as possible should be able to afford a beautiful and functional home. We constantly challenge ourselves and others to make more from less without compromising on quality.
- Simplicity. A simple, straightforward, and down-to-earth way of being is part of our Smalandic heritage. It is about being ourselves and staying close to reality. We are informal, pragmatic, and see bureaucracy as our biggest enemy.
- Give and take responsibility. We believe in empowering people. Giving and taking responsibility are ways to grow and develop as individuals. Trusting each other, being positive and forward-looking inspires everyone to contribute to development.
- Lead by example. We see leadership as an action, not a position. We look for people’s values before competence and experience. People who “walk the talk” and lead by example. It is about being our best self and bringing out the best in each other.
How to define your brand vision and values
Brands don’t come together with hopes and good intentions. You will need a plan, clear direction, and strong understanding of your current brand perception. Developing your vision and values will give you a foundation to move forward into business growth.
1. Create a brand vision statement, values and guiding principles
The brand vision statement is demonstrated in mission and vision statements. These statements help you define your brand goals and determine your brand perception for both internal and external audiences (employees, prospects and customers).
In short, your mission statement defines your brand’s current position, goals and how to reach them, while the vision statement relays where you’d like your brand to be in the future. By combining them, you can outline the journey between the present and the future.
Your brand values illustrate what your brand stands for, the standards of behavior you uphold, and the common threads in your thinking. Begin with a list, then narrow it down to three to five main brand values.
2. Plan and enact your strategy
With a clear understanding of your brand vision and values and the current brand perception, your next step is to decide how to make your brand image a reality. It’s important to use accountability to drive change—identify your goals and how you can accomplish them, including the team members and resources you will need.
Track your brand’s progress to maximize opportunities with current trends, make real-time decisions with data, and find ways to make your strategy more successful.
Build a strong foundation for your brand
A brand’s vision and values demonstrate where your brand is and where it wants to be, forming a blueprint for achieving your goals. With these assets in place, your brand can transform from a business to something meaningful and long-lasting.
Contributed to EO by Kyle Johnston, founding partner and president of award-winning brand, content creation and creative agency, Gigasavvy in Orange County, California. After spending the last 20+ years in Southern California, Kyle recently moved his family to Boise, ID where he continues to lead the agency through its next phase of growth.