These days, what a brand stands for is just as important as what its products or services can do. In our experience working with clients over the years, we’ve seen many companies communicate their values well, but there are others that seemingly miss the mark, come across as insincere, or are not aligned with their target audience.
Email vendor Mailjet reports that values-driven email campaigns are on the rise, linking to a range of topics such as sustainability, inclusion, innovation and privacy. In evaluating various subject lines sent to over 75,000 marketers in the U.S. and U.K., Mailjet found that 29% opened emails pertaining to sustainability as a core brand value and 27% opened emails pertaining to celebrating inclusivity, indicating strong interest in both causes. The reason is simple: people today prefer to do business with brands whose values are similar to theirs, which translates into trust.
Mailjet’s insights align with what we at OMI have seen in developing thousands of campaigns for our clients. While communicating core values can be a tricky or subjective, here are six tips for getting it right:
- Tell your story: When done right, brand storytelling engages customers over the long-term and allows them to feel emotionally invested in your brand’s mission and success. It’s often best to start at the beginning – who are your company founders, how did they get where they are, and what are they trying to achieve? This kind of storytelling can separate you from the numerous, faceless companies out there simply trying to make a buck. Welcome emails are ideal for introducing your audience to your company story.
- Keep it real: Everyone these days, especially Generations Y and Z, is suspicious of corporate communications or advertising, and can spot fake interest in a trendy social movement versus genuine support. When working to establish trust with your audience as you build your brand value campaigns, avoid generic phrases or images (e.g. stock photos), and show real photos of actual customers or your employees supporting your cause. Keep the focus on people – not just your company.
- Be timely: While all causes have their merits, sustainability and inclusivity seem to be of most interest to the widest audience these days. With all the attention on climate change and the state of our planet, sustainability is no longer merely an individual concern but a corporate one as well. That’s why it’s become one of the most popular brand values. To demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, words alone aren’t enough. Instead, showcase how your company protects the environment by developing its products responsibly or by recycling in an innovative way. And if diversity is your brand value, show how your company is part of the positive change to set an example and inspire others as well.
- Align to your customers: While timely causes can improve the world, there are some that can paint your company into a political corner and potentially alienate a certain population of your audience. (Lyft found this out when it pledged $1 million to the ACLU.) Be sure to know your customers well and align your messages to their interests as much as possible, whether it’s education, healthy living, or something else.
- Showcase your success: Sharing the positive impact that your customers or employees are making on the world is a great way to demonstrate your sincerity, and that your audience’s support is making a difference. This could be an individual case study, journey or bio on someone’s activities or how the recipients’ lives are being positively impacted by your brand’s generosity.
- Encourage sharing: While email is the ideal medium to communicate your brand’s values and activities, also promote your successes on your company’s website and social media pages, and encourage your customers to share your organization’s success with their colleagues and contacts via their social media channels. You might also create a video of your value-based activities and show this at your next customer or user event, as well as to your own employees at your company all-hands or sales kickoff meetings.
Brand ethics are growing in importance as a part of communicating your company’s story, value and place in the world. Doing it well and aligning your values with those of your customers will pave the way to greater brand loyalty over the long haul. One last piece of advice: before you jump in, give it a lot of thought and be sure to get feedback and test your messaging with a cross-section of your employees and even your customers.
Is there a brand whose values you really admire?
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