I want to share with you a mistake.
Yep, a mistake that I’ve made and I know a lot of other brand consultants like me have made.
Hell, they even wink at me every time I look at two of my featured case studies on my website and that is brand values.
Multiple brand values and more than 3 brand values to be exact. But I’ll come back to this in a tick.
Now brand values are there for you to guide your character, voice, personality, moral decisions, product/service decisions, how you show up for others. If they resonate with others at a subliminal level based on the brand your consumers' experience, fantastic! But also, not a deal-breaker. What is more valuable is hiring and partnering with those who share common values. So that you are on the same page, your empathy for others is similar and your vision for how you put yourself out into the ether is going to be consistent.
So let me share with you a quick story from when I was working in my last full-time job before I started G’day Frank. The global company I worked for had 4 core brand values before it rebranded not long after I left.
Creative - remembered that one easy for obvious reasons ✅
Collaborative - yep, had to be a team player ✅
Commercial - because I never knew how I could fit this in with anything I did as an in-house designer when we had to articulate how we’d contributed to the company's success based on their 4 core values ✅
The 4th... I can’t for the life of me remember it ❌ Nor could I back when I worked for them, even though they had them emblazoned around the rim of all their coffee mugs.
And that right there my friend is a great example of why we’re hopeless at remembering our values, let alone meaningfully applying them when there's too many going on.
So you could say that what dawned on me from experience as an employee, now as a business owner and now as a more experienced brand consultant. Is that if you have any more than 3 brand values, you’ve fucked it.
You may as well have not even bothered because no one is going to remember 7. Unless you’ve got an eidetic memory or tattooed to your forearm.
…PS. Sorry to my previous clients. If I've given you 7 and you’re reading this, just pick your fave 3 and roll with them. The forgiveness chocolates are in the mail!
Now if you only pick one that you can wholeheartedly get behind, this can instead become your positioning concept (for reference, see my Instagram post from Monday) and you don't need to worry about values.
Two values are more than satisfactory as we are complex beings and businesses.
Three is a crowd as they say, but it will more than likely create a nice balance that covers three unique aspects of your brand to separate yourself from others.
Four or more and you’ve lost me, you’ve lost your team and maybe even yourself. We don’t remember amongst all the other parts of our brand and we're then most likely only going to remember 2 at best.
The reason this triggered a swift slap in the face was this idea of 3 brain cells - “What are the 3 things you want people to remember you by?” because people aren’t gonna be able to remember much more. This comes from Mark Ritson and if you’ve been following me of late, you’ll have noticed my keen interest in his learnings as a marketing professor based here in Australia.
He uses this idea in marketing because the simpler we make our brands for our clients, our customers, our audience, our team and ourselves to remember the things we want to be remembered for and utilise. So only assume there are 3 tiny brain cells amongst a million others to commit your brand to memory.
And what are they gonna be?
Might it be the shape of your bottle like a Coca-Cola bottle?
The clever tagline you write that sums up the brand experience like Aldi’s ‘Good Different'?
Is it the colour of your shoe boxes like Nike’s orange cardboard boxes?
Or is it your internal brand values that you hire and fire by?
So if we take this concept and apply it to our internal branding for our team to align with and remember. Let’s not make it a clusterfuck of so many things to remember that you have to walk around with your brand bible attached to you like a clingy toddler.
Let it be simple. Part of that is making your brand values valuable to your company and team by:
Choosing 3 easily pronounceable common words people actually know the meaning of
Let them describe what you stand for, what your experience is and what feeling you want to evoke
To make them more likely to be remembered, you can make each value start with the same letter or have them form an acronym like CAR, CPR, SAT, BUS, MIC, PIN, TIP...you get the idea.
No point listing a fourth as you won’t remember it
For me, I picked Captivating, Connection, Clarity. See, all C words...who knows you might even think I'm a bit of a C-word. But! These are the values I've attributed to my G’day Frank brand. They form my definition of brand and branding, but also they emanate through different parts of my brand to align with the brand experience I offer.
Captivating your attention by doing things like wearing a wig on camera and using pink as if it's going out of fashion. Creating connections by directly speaking with my audience and clients. And clarity is what I strive to help provide my clients to understand and guide what the next step is for their brand as a result of a clear and consistent identity.
With that, let it be known that if ever you see me put up a new brand identity with any more than 3 brand values. Give me a swift kick to the… you get the idea. But it rhymes with dick. Oh wait, I said it.
Is this something you think you’ll also get behind? If so, it'll make your own or your client's brand values valuable again, simply because you'll be able to remember them enough to be able to utilise them when and where it makes sense for your brand.
With that said, what are yours?…hopefully you remember them all 😬