What is a brand (core) value?

June 15, 2017


Last year, during my consultancy work, the term “brand value” was being widely debated. So, I decided to write a post to a wider audience to share my understanding of brand values, and to welcome more comments on this subject.


Initially, I think this debate was triggered because there are so many different descriptions of “brand value” out there, and because the meaning of the word “value” has two meanings: one refers to monetary worth, costs or measurements; the second refers to moral values, beliefs, and things of importance. However, in this post, I will focus mainly on brand value as an important, moral belief.


As a monetary measurement, brand value is much more complicated. It relates to brand equity and price premium, which are a result of customer familiarity, preference and loyalty to the brand. Therefore, in the future, I will dedicate another post solely on this topic.


Brand value as a moral belief of importance

Brand value as a moral belief is often called “Core Values”, referring to what you believe in, what features and characters are important to you as a business, and important for your existence.


Often, people think a company exists because it can provide a certain product and service to earn money as an exchange. People often talk about starting up a business because there is a gap in the market, which a business can take advantage of with its unique offerings. True, but soon the gap in the market will be closed off and filled with competition. A sustainable business looks beyond the bottom line. They believe they exist because of certain values which benefit their employees, shareholders, customers and a wider society. They practice these values in their day to day activities, which results in great loyalty, not only from customers, but also from its employees, thus, to create strong, sustainable, and loyal brands.


Examples of big brands are listed below:

  • Volvo: safety, quality and care for the environment; 

  • Caterpillar: believes in aspirational sustainable development; 

  • Apple: “Bring great products to the planet”, “saying no”, “value simplicity and avoid complexity”;

  • Google: “avoid micromanagement”, “fun & freedom”, and “openness, general ethics and corporate citizenship”;

  • Microsoft: “self-criticism and self-improvement”, “integrity, honesty and openness”, “personal excellence”;

  • Facebook: “focus on equality, social value and transparency”, “deliver the freedom, to share and connect”, “ownership and control of information”;

  • Amazon: “think big, be decisive, stay frugal, foster trust”, “Customer obsession”, “focus on simplicity, courage and ownership”.


The reasons above underpin the existence of these giant corporations. It’s important to understand these reasons are not just words. These corporations really believe in them, they developed their vision and mission based on these values, and they continue to hold these values, which can be easily recognised and agreed upon.


Personally, I think brand core values are why you exist (despite of your bottom line). They could be the starting point of developing your brand. And they should be thoroughly integrated into all areas of your business practice; all of your employees should believe in these core values too. The brand core values are essential brand attributes .


Brand innovation guru, Rafe Offer said, “Stay true to your values. That’s why you were a success in the first place, and that’s how you make incredible things happen.” Starbuck CEO Howard Schultz said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”  


If you have any questions relating to this blog, or you need advice on brand values, please feel free to contact me.

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