Why Every Organization Should Define their Brand Values

  • by Shala Graham
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Everyone has a set of values they live by. Values are your beliefs, standards or principles that govern how you think, behave, or react to situations. Even if you haven’t defined them, they exist. Otherwise, you wouldn’t find yourself saying things like, “I would NEVER do THAT!” Why? Because it goes against your values. The same should be true for your nonprofit organization. There are things that would be out of character for your organization to do. When you have multiple people representing your organization, it becomes critical to list and define your values on paper so that they can be properly adopted and implemented throughout your brand.

Values Lay the Foundation for Your Brand

When we take our clients through our Trust Activator branding process, helping them get to identifying and defining their values is priority number one. These values represent who the organization is…something their audience can always trust to be true. It is the foundation that positioning statements, colors, graphics, marketing campaigns, and media messages are built on. The values tell the brand what it stands for and therefore does. When thinking about what this looks like for your organization’s brand, consider statements like, “Because we value X, we implement Y programs and deliver our service in Z fashion.”

Values Remain Consistent

Unless your organization is changing who it is and what it does on a fundamental level, brand values remain consistent. They are tried and true. Your marketing strategy may change, your website may change, even your positioning statement may change, but your values should be the same. Very similar to a person, she can change her clothes, her hair style, and diversify her skill set, but her values—who she is—remains consistent. If you decide to change your values, you will be changing your brand.

Values Help You Point True North

When you have strong values in place, it is easier to make sure that everything your organization takes on is the right fit. If you or your board comes up with a great new project to tackle or another organization approaches you about a potential partnership on a program, run that opportunity through your values. If that opportunity doesn’t reflect or reinforce your values, don't do it. Too often, we see nonprofits take on a mash-up of programs because it all sounds good and is helpful in some way, but it dilutes their core values and ultimately their brand.

If you need help clarifying your brand (or perhaps you have no brand) by establishing your organization’s core values, contact us and we’d be happy to do a Branding 101 presentation for you and your board.

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