Brand Behaviour vs. Brand Value
A key part of defining a new brand strategy for your business is to ensure your own teams understand what it means for them and their customers. They often end up with a succinct brand purpose, mission and vision, but how do they translate into marketing communications, new starter inductions, professional development etc? This next step is just as important, if not more so, than defining the strategy in the first place.
There is a lot of different terminology around brand strategy in general; purpose, mission, vision, values, behaviours, attributes etc. In this guide, we’ll help to explain the difference between values and behaviours; the two terms used for the part of your brand strategy dedicated to making it real for your team and your customers.
Brand values or behaviours both share the same role: to align your business and its employees to help them make decisions based on values that represent your brand and help you to achieve your vision. They help you leverage your brand purpose.
Your values and behaviours will translate across everything you do. They can help to decide who to hire and which products to develop, right through to your tone of voice and visual identity.
Whether you choose to have values or behaviours, or both, is personal to the organisation. For some, behaviours can feel more tangible and support specific business functions like recruitment and HR. For others, values work better as they are more generalised and can be applied to wider applications. But ultimately, they both play the role of helping to further align the individuals in an organisation.
Brand values are usually a selection of 1-2 words which guide the overall brand perception you want to own in the market. They are high-level and define the external experience of the brand for customers. This approach allows for flexibility of translation; across business functions, offices, products or divisions. A great example of brand values comes from Virgin whose values span business divisions but are translated in a way that’s right for each; from their banking division through to their airline. They allow each division to define what these mean for their own needs, but the Virgin group brand remains strong and connected thanks to the underpinning values.
- Insatiable curiosity
- Heartfelt service
- Delightfully surprising
- Red hot
- Smart disruption
- Straight up
However, for some, values are too high-level and in businesses where they don’t need as much flexibility across divisions, more directional behaviours are preferred.
Unlike values, behaviours define the way employees act within the business. They can be used to set expectations on employees and are more internal focused. For some businesses where defining the internal culture is key, brand behaviours work better. This is particularly true for fast-growing start-ups and scale-ups, where their team is growing quickly and they need more tangible methods of defining who they are and how they work.
Netflix is a good example of using brand behaviours rather than values alone. They have defined 10 brand behaviours against which every team member is held to account. They have 10 defining words which are behaviour focused and then have built each one out to provide even more specific actions. Below you’ll see the overarching behaviours and the action statements for each. They read like a job description in many ways but can apply to the different functions across the organisation. You get a real feel for the kind of employee that work at Netflix and actually end up getting a sense of their overall brand values through the combination of behaviours.
- You make wise decisions despite ambiguity
- You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
- You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
- You are good at using data to inform your intuition
- You make decisions based on the long term, not near term
- You are concise and articulate in speech and writing
- You listen well and seek to understand before reacting
- You maintain calm poise in stressful situations to draw out the clearest thinking
- You adapt your communication style to work well with people from around the world who may not share your native language
- You provide candid, helpful, timely feedback to colleagues
- You learn rapidly and eagerly
- You contribute effectively outside of your specialty
- You make connections that others miss
- You seek to understand our members around the world, and how we entertain them
- You seek alternate perspectives
- You say what you think, when it’s in the best interest of Netflix, even if it is uncomfortable
- You are willing to be critical of the status quo
- You make tough decisions without agonising
- You take smart risks and are open to possible failure
- You question actions inconsistent with our values
- You are able to be vulnerable, in search of truth
- You inspire others with your thirst for excellence
- You care intensely about our members and Netflix‘s success
- You are tenacious and optimistic
- You are quietly confident and openly humble
- You seek what is best for Netflix, rather than what is best for yourself or your group
- You are open-minded in search of the best ideas
- You make time to help colleagues
- You share information openly and proactively
- You create new ideas that prove useful
- You re-conceptualise issues to discover solutions to hard problems
- You challenge prevailing assumptions, and suggest better approaches
- You keep us nimble by minimising complexity and finding time to simplify
- You thrive on change
- You collaborate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures
- You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions
- You focus on talent and our values, rather than a person’s similarity to yourself
- You are curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us
- You recognise we all have biases, and work to grow past them
- You intervene if someone else is being marginalised
- You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political
- You only say things about fellow employees that you say to their face
- You admit mistakes freely and openly
- You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
- You accomplish amazing amounts of important work
- You demonstrate consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
- You make your colleagues better
- You focus on results over process
So, which one is right for you?
Every business is different and needs to be so. The choice of brand values or behaviours is individual to the organisation; the stage they’re at in their growth, the number of employees, the type of organisation.
Regardless of what you choose is right, your brand values or behaviours need to feel unique to you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of using generic terms as a catch-all for your values but this renders them meaningless. They need to help define who you are as a business, what your unique selling point is. If you can’t define it, then your customers won’t feel it.
It’s by no means an easy exercise but as you’ll see from the success of the above two companies, it’s well worth getting right!