Brand values

First off, I’ll be clear. Brand values aren’t useless. They are paramount to every organization, no matter if you’re a consumer-packaged goods corporation with global span, or the boutique village wine shop. But the mistake is over complicating the Brand values, creating confusion as to what your Brand actually stands for.

I can speak to countless occasions when a Brand’s positioning or values has been presented in one of two ways to us here at Instinct.

1. In the form of a thick handbook or multiple dozen page PowerPoint presentation featuring various iterations, breakdowns, diagrams and in-depth explanations.


2. As a one liner within the visual brand identity deck that speaks to logo treatment, font, and brand Pantone.

Neither work to capture the essence of your Brand in a memorable way. And this is especially pertinent as 49% of the UK workforce reported working from home as of mid-June (The Guardian), 40% of the Canadian workforce stated the same (Investment Executive), and 51% of the American workforce (, both reported as of April. If there was ever a time to remind employees what your Brand stands for, it’s now.

You may already understand that your Brand is not the logo, the font or the Pantone. But instead it’s everything that your company says, does, makes, stands for. But what you may not be clear on is the need for an active Brand Foundation. What does this mean? A Brand Foundation is a usable ONE page (yes one) document that outlines your Core Purpose, Mission, Vision, Values, Positioning, Positioning Statement and Character. It requires being succinct and thoughtful as a leadership team and making some hard decisions on what is truly pertinent to defining what your Brand stands for. Your Brand is built from the inside and this is the main tool to do so.

How to keep your Brand Foundation active in a remote working environment

The multiple dozen page Brand values PowerPoint is realistically gathering dust on the vacant desks of your office space or filed in your employees’ Admin email folder, unlikely to be reviewed again. So what now?

Shorten your Brand descriptors

First off, create a Brand Foundation by looking at every description of your company’s purpose (there is usually more than one floating around), your mission and vision (they are indeed different) and whittle them down to one sentence each. Review your unique positioning, and your values (what the brand believes in) and character traits (how you act as a Brand). This should be an activity done by the executive team, NOT the marketing department. Brand is owned by every facet of the business, not just the marketing department, so it must come from the top through to the rest of the company.

Share it with excitement

Launch the evolved (read: simplified) Brand Foundation to employees with excitement. Highlight that this is a re-commitment to what the company stands for. Do it creatively and with an opportunity for employees to feedback and create a two-way dialogue. Spend the budget to design it beautifully. Make it something they want to proudly post on their home office walls as a reminder why they work for your Brand.

Find ways beyond the day to day operations to live it

Kraft Heinz Europe recently sourced ideas from employees for how they can illustrate their core purpose, mission, vision and values and authentically give back to their respective communities during the pandemic lockdown. The result included adjusting the Magic Breakfast program FAST to deliver 12 million breakfasts outside of the usual school breakfast programs, ensuring many children would still benefit from a healthy breakfast in lockdown. The result was inspired employees and full bellies, thanks to Kraft Heinz.

Live it as the CBO

The Chief Executive Officer also needs to be the Chief Brand Officer. Your Brand success lies in the hands of every employee, so it’s got to be owned by the CEO/CBO –  the only person with the power to make delivering it everyone’s responsibility. CBOs articulate the elements of the Brand Foundation over and over again, to motivate their people to deliver remarkable products, services and experiences. CBOs find the power to continually relate the Brand Foundation to everyone’s work in a passionate, convincing, and compelling way. So that everyone can see how their work, whether exciting or mundane, contributes to delivering the Brand to stakeholders at every touchpoint.

Bring your partners, agencies and suppliers along

There is the likelihood that many people speak about your Brand, introducing it to others on a daily basis. It is always important to bring any stakeholder that touches your Brand along for the ride and that means, understanding and feeling inspired by the Brand Foundation. This is especially important in moments of change, whether churn from economic challenges (read: Covid-19) or fast company growth (also for some, read: Covid-19). A strong Brand Foundation lived by everyone touching the Brand becomes one that weathers the storm.   Consider all the extra delivery drivers hired by Amazon over the past four months. Being brought along the Amazon journey, highlighting the company’s reason for being, and the values that drive Amazon should really be a pertinent part of onboarding these third-party suppliers, especially as they are often the only Brand ‘representatives’ engaging directly with consumers.

If the majority of your employees are still working from home (and even if they’re not), an active Brand Foundation, referenced often by the senior team, is invaluable to maintaining Brand consistency, the number one rule in Brand building. Imagine being a customer service representative with a major Brand, now taking customer service calls from your bedroom desk, while watching the kids and family dog outside. It takes a strong and clear Brand to remind people why they are doing what they are doing for you as a Brand leader and deliver on it day in and day out. Make it memorable, consistent and from the top down.