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When this question came up in a seminar last week it really got me thinking. Whether there is a difference between your corporate and brand values really comes down to your perception and organisation. But should there be? Does there actually need to be?

In truth I don’t know what the academics would say on this matter. I suspect that someone, somewhere has written a book about it. Arguing that there is or isn’t a distinct difference between the two. For me, however, whether semantically we call them corporate or brand values is immaterial. What’s important is the distinct difference between values and action. For me, that’s the difference between corporate values (values) and brand values (action).

Many of you will be reading this with an idea of the values your firm or business has chosen. The words that you feel sum up your identity. Words like ‘integrity’, ‘honesty’, ‘innovation’, ‘enlightenment’ and ‘quality’ often top the list. I believe that these are your corporate values. They tell people the lines in the sand that you judge yourself by. That, perhaps, you’re prepared for other people to judge you by. These underpin everything that you’re about and do.

So, where does your brand come into this? I think we’re all agreed that a real brand comes down to more than a logo, a corporate font and a few choice colours? Aren’t we? But how do we connect your values (as above) with your brand and ultimate communications?

A successful brand is all about communicating who you are and what you do. Importantly it’s about communicating how you do it and why. It’s the embodiment of your organisation’s personality. It’s the sum total of the elements that people will identify with. That will tick their boxes and make them go “yes, I want to work with them”.

The key point in all of that, as far as I’m concerned, is the ‘how you do it’. This is the link for me. Brand values are all about action. Brand values tell people how you will demonstrate your integrity, honesty, innovation and quality.

The best, strongest brands are those that actually communicate a sense of action. A ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ approach. A nice list of values, coupled with a pretty logo does not make a brand. However, a nice list of values, with a pretty logo, and some proof of those values in action? That starts to look more like a brand for me. You see, as far as I’m concerned, a brand is all about the personality. Without action the ‘person’ is little more than a cardboard cut-out. But once they start to move and talk and do things… then you can make a decision about whether you agree with them or identify with their approach to life.

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