It doesn’t matter if you have a brick-and-mortar presence, an online store, or both— brand values are an essential part of your business, no matter the touchpoint.
But having brand values that guide the internal locus isn’t enough. Brands also need to let consumers know what they stand for, what they believe in, and how they implement their values every day through external communication efforts around those brand values and beliefs.
Why? A global study revealed that consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase and support purpose-driven companies.
3 Reasons Your Company Needs to Communicate Brand Values
Consumers have started becoming more conscientious in 2020 —a year marked by a global health crisis, job losses, and social unrest. According to a Shopkick survey, 68% of Americans claim the pandemic has made them more conscious consumers.
Modern shoppers vote with their wallets. Studies back this up—82% of consumers say they would pay more for a value-aligned brand, while 43% would even pay twice as much for a brand that is transparent with its values.
Here are three reasons your brand needs to communicate its core values with customers.
1. Communicating brand values can increase sales
The impact companies have on society, culture, and the environment is becoming a filtering mechanism for today’s buyers. Many consumers now expect brands to stand up for what they believe in. In fact, 81% of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to charitable causes.
But it doesn’t end there. Today’s conscious consumer advocates for brands that make a positive impact (and often boycotts ones that don’t.) One study found brands saw profits grow nine times more than their counterparts when they communicated their brand values around making a positive impact. They also saw a 24-point jump in customers’ purchase intent.
But don’t think that simply writing a mission statement will cut it. Consumers expect brands to live up to their values by fulfilling corporate social responsibility (CSR). They want brands to address social, environmental, and cultural issues via funding or volunteering.
Data echoes this sentiment:
- Cone Communications CSR study found 70% of Americans believe companies have an obligation to take action to improve issues that may not be relevant to their everyday business.
- 87% of participants in the same study said they would purchase a product because the company advocated for an issue they care about, while 76% would refuse to buy if what the company stands for is contrary to their beliefs.
Sharing your brand values doesn’t only make consumers feel good about purchasing from you— they are now the deciding factor in whether or not a purchase happens at all.
2. Communicating values builds trust and loyalty
People buy from brands they trust.
A brand demonstrates authenticity and builds trust by aligning its stated values with actions.
Once a foundation of trust is established, maintaining that trust by consistently living up to your values matters even more (and plays a key role in customer loyalty). This isn’t a “one-and-done” activity. 89% of consumers in one study by Gartner said they expected to disengage from a brand that breaches their trust, so remember to back up your values with actions that align with them over time.
3. Communicating values differentiates your brand
Product differentiation is no longer the primary way for brands to stand out within the marketplace. However, in a sea of content and competitors, brand values can be what differentiates your brand. When each piece of brand messaging aligns with your core values, your brand becomes more memorable.
Consumers are emotionally invested in brands in 2021; it’s no longer just about price. Communicating brand values can help you build a lasting emotional connection with your consumers (rather than a mere transactional one).
How to Communicate Your Brand Values to the Conscious Consumer: A Seven-Point Checklist
Established brand values make it easy to communicate in a clear, authentic way to your customers.
The consumer of today is conscious of how they spend their money. They care about what you believe in— 83% of consumers consider it important that the company they buy from aligns with their values.
Here are seven ways to incorporate your values into your customer communications.
1. Put your brand values on your website
Sharing your values on your website may seem obvious, but it’s a crucial first step when it comes to letting your consumers know what you care about and stand for.
There are many ways to communicate your values through your website: You can have a dedicated values page or you can weave values into your website copy more subtly. Whichever method you choose should clearly communicate what your core brand values are.
“Make sure your mission and core values are crystal clear. People want to support brands they can identify with and be proud of. Now’s not the time to be marketing at people. Listen, learn, and focus on what you’re really good at.” — Amanda Gant, Marketing Director at Orbit Media
The best way to communicate your values on your website is by sharing your story. People are hardwired to love and remember stories; it’s the way our brains work.
Outerknown, the sustainable fashion brand, shares its core values on its About page with some clever storytelling. They tell their brand story through their values. The chronological timeline, pictures, and engaging snippets make consumers feel closer to what the Outerknown stands for (and has over the years).
Outerknown’s journey page is a definitive example when it comes to communicating brand values. They don’t just talk about what their values are; they show how they’ve lived up to them and evolved them throughout the years.
Bottom line: When creating the value pages for your website, be transparent about your brand’s beliefs. Incorporate engaging visuals, employee participation pictures, and storytelling elements to keep consumers emotionally invested. But also include how your brand lives up to your values every day.
2. Highlight testimonials and stories that reinforce your values
You’re likely sharing customer testimonials everywhere—your website, your About page, your emails, social media, and your checkout pages. And for a good reason: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.
But all reviews don’t need to be about your product or service. Testimonials are also an excellent opportunity to highlight your brand values from customers’ mouths themselves.
Spotlighting how your company is living up to its brand values—whether in customer experience, team efficiency, or checkout experience— reinforces the trust and authenticity of your brand.
You don’t have to run dedicated website pages or campaigns to tell value-driven stories about your brand. A simple customer testimonial that talks about what you stand for can do the trick, too.
Sustainable clothing brand Mate The Label, for example, highlights testimonials both from experts and consumers who appreciate their core brand values on their website.
Bottom line: Reading about your brand values in action is proof to prospective consumers that you truly value the things you claim you do. Use customer testimonials as an opportunity to reinforce your brand values from your consumers. People can only watch you toot your own horn for so long.
3. Weave cause marketing into your social media and email
Cause marketing is a partnership between a nonprofit business and a for-profit business for a common goal. Wondering why you would want to talk about someone else’s cause on your socials and emails?
Natori— a 40-year-old women’s apparel brand, tested how their impact-focused ad performed compared to traditional paid advertising efforts. Impact messaging consistently outperformed their general campaigns: They saw a 2.5% increase in CTR, a 109.8% increase in conversion rate, and a whopping 136.5% jump in RAOS.
“We were delighted to see how much our customers prioritize giving, and how much they value both knowing what causes are important to us, and directing funds to causes that are important to them.” — Ken Natori, President at The Natori Company
Social media is a great way to spread the word about what you support. You can talk about what your values are, how you have lived up to your values, and the impact you’ve created.
By talking about its impact on social media, Grounds & Hounds reminds consumers of their brand values and how they are living up to them.
Social media can also be a great way to gather feedback from your community and address any consumer concerns. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste—engage with your customers, hear what they have to say, and share why you believe what you believe.
Email is another place for cause marketing. Personalized emails take communication with your consumers up a notch and allow you to evaluate how your target audience perceives the brand. Email is one more place you can announce nonprofit partnerships or simply reinstate your core values.
Huron used this opportunity to announce their partnership, ask for help, and talk about their values.
Bottom line: A cause-related marketing strategy sticks in the minds of your consumers. It’s a chance to get the word out about your brand values. Utilize social media and email to talk about your values, how you live up to them, and the impact your brand has created so far.
4. Give consumers the front seat
Consumers want you to do something to make the world a better place. But that’s only part of the deal: 88% of consumers want brands to help them make a difference.
Consumers need help from you to participate in social change themselves. Consumers who align with your values would especially want in on volunteering—giving them a chance can also provide room to foster deeper and more meaningful relationships. One of the easiest ways to nudge consumers to participate is by giving them the option to donate to charitable causes when they’re checking out. It’s low-effort and high-impact.
The Blind Barber, a barbershop and lounge from New York City, practices this by using a loyalty program.
Consumers can donate to a cause they believe in at checkout. Shoppers can award points for every dollar donated. They can also redeem their points—enabling them to make donations whenever and wherever they please.
Other companies, like the jewelry brand Kobelli, also witnessed a jump in orders that have a cause linked to them.
“Our customers are showing us that they’re willing to spend more when they can support causes they care about through us. In our time with Change Commerce, we’ve seen a 28.9% lift in our AOV on the orders that have a donation.” — Eyal Brikman, COO of Kobelli
You can even take your checkout donations a step further by fine-tuning your search feature. Consumers can choose which cause they want to support and the products or services linked to them. It’s also important to provide customers with an omnichannel experience—giving them the chance to donate at all stages and channels in their purchasing journey.
For instance, when you integrate ShoppingGives with Shopify POS, you can customize your giving experience and let customers choose which causes they want to support (no matter the channel through which they arrive). By doing this, you elevate the customer experience and create a unique and authentic interaction with them.
Bird and Stone, a jewelry company aimed at giving back, has this feature on their website. Consumers have various causes to choose from, and products are filtered based on what they want to support.
Many companies find other routes for letting consumers participate, like educating consumers to make them feel part of the change.
Bottom line: When consumers see eye-to-eye with you on your values, they appreciate the opportunity to pitch in themselves. Find ways to let them participate in social change through you, whether by hosting giveaways, releasing educational reports, or giving the option to donate at checkout.
5. Team up with influencers and nonprofits for a cross-promotional strategy
Partnering with influencers and nonprofits allow you to further your cause marketing efforts, communicate your brand values in action, and reach new audiences.
Let’s talk about influencers first. Influencer marketing is pretty hot right now— growing to approximately $13.8 Billion in 2021. Influencers have that valuable thing given right in their name— influence. They can impact their niche audiences to check out your brand, see what you stand for, and make a purchase.
It works, too: A MediaKix report found that 71% of marketers rate the quality of customers and traffic from influencer marketing superior to other sources.
You can use influencer marketing to highlight your values by partnering up with the right influencers. Highline Wellness collaborated with beauty influencer Hannah Bronfman to encourage people to show love & appreciation to the people in their lives during the pandemic. Bronfman’s followers nominated those that made an impact on their life and Highline Wellness sent care packages to 100 nominees, picked randomly.
The collaboration also extended when Bronfman released her first-ever self-care product—a CBD bath bomb—in partnership with Highline Wellness.
This doesn’t have to be difficult, either: ShoppingGives’ Personalization Parameter feature simplifies influencer marketing with impact by creating a custom link for each influencer that reflects their cause of choice.
But there’s also nonprofit partnerships. When partnering with nonprofits, it is important to have a perfect pairing that aligns with your values. A good example would be the partnership between Kenneth Cole and Just Salad. Kenneth Cole designed, created, and provided face masks to all Just Salad teammates and delivery personnel to protect them during the pandemic. The company responded in real-time with a relevant message that left an impact.
Partnering with the right cause can even increase your sales. White + Warren, a women’s cashmere retailer, paired with the American Heart Association during cyber week’s holiday sales. They saw that their transactions per customer were 23% higher and also saw a 21% faster return from donating customers.
It allowed customers to support other causes of their choice as well.
“The customer has the ability to choose the organization that she’s passionate about, it’s easy, it’s just so simple, it’s seamless. Customers that shop and choose to donate on their first purchase come back 7 days sooner than any other shopper.” — Susan W. Morrissey, Founder & CEO of White + Warren
ShoppingGives makes managing these donations easy— ensuring tax receipts, regulations, disbursements, etc.
Bottom line: Partnering with the right influencers and nonprofits can spread the word about your brand values. It is a great way to reach new customers who already share your values. Make sure to find the right person or organization to collaborate with since this tactic can easily backfire.
6. Unite stakeholders and employees on your values
Consumers care how you live your values every day in the business. Your company culture, leadership, and employees are a testament to that. Make a proactive effort to portray what life in your company looks like.
Google has a @lifeatgoogle Instagram profile showcasing the stories of their employees and what they love about working at Google from across the globe.
You don’t have to make a dedicated page for portraying your company culture. It may be something as simple as sharing a picture of your employees participating in charitable work together.
Employees follow in leadership’s footsteps, which is why it is crucial to get your senior management excited about what you stand for. Help your employees participate in your values by asking what causes they care about, how they would like to work for their beliefs and assign shared responsibilities.
Bottom line: Consumers love to see you living your brand values. Find ways to spotlight your company culture and how your employees and leadership live up to the values your brand stands for.
7. Have a dedicated impact page on your website
Talking about your values can only take you so far. Consumers need proof of how you’ve lived up to them. An impact page is your place to do exactly that.
Store your statistics and your real stories of change on the ‘Impact’ page of your website. Include why you help, who you help, and how you help. This is your chance to build an emotional connection with your consumers and make them aware of partnerships and CSR initiatives.
Consumers care about how you’re giving back more than you know.
“I think it [giving back] used to be a selling point for the original give back brands. Now, it’s a necessity with Millennials and Gen Z. It needs to be a core pillar for any brand, especially in eCommerce.” — Christopher Lynch, Founder & CEO of Everyday California
Bottom line: The impact page is your chance to show how your company has lived up to its values. Use this opportunity to talk numbers and stories of real change.
The Importance of Communicating Your Brand Values
The world is changing—consumers are becoming mindful of what brands they purchase from and what causes they support.
Communicating your values lets consumers know that your brand is about more than just money. Living up to your values builds trust, authenticity, and the satisfaction of knowing that you made the world a better place.