Defining your company values can attract the right talent and loyal customers for your business.

digital marketing plan can sell your product, but selling your brand requires you to show who you are beyond how you profit. To turn your customers and team members into loyal supporters, you need company values that they can identify with and that your business reflects.

When it comes to choosing the companies they love and return to, stakeholders will take your values into account whether they know it or not. After all, people naturally admire leaders and brands with values that reflect their own.

Still, this doesn’t mean you can publish any heartwarming statement about your core values and expect loyalty right off the bat. In this article, we’ll show you how you can select company values that are fit for your company, and we’ll inspire you with some impressive examples.

Why company values matter

Before we get into our tips for defining company values, you need to understand why your core values even matter as well as who exactly they matter for. This will give you insight that you can keep in mind during your value selection process.

For your team

Your core values define what you prioritize in the workplace, which means employees and job candidates look toward them as a framework for their goals and even their behavior. On the flip side, they may view the lack thereof as a lack of structure and priorities beyond profit.

That said, enforcing great company values is key to a healthy company culture. Doing so helps you cultivate positive views of your workplace from former, current, and future employees. This often naturally feeds into maintaining a stellar online reputation on employer review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed—an absolute must in a world where 86% of workers will leave or choose not to apply for a company with a bad reputation.

Clearly stated company values can also help you find the right like-minded hires who can best collaborate in your work environment. As the millennial generation—and soon, Generation Z—begins to make up the core of the workforce, company values are critical in attracting the best talent. In the United States, 81% of millennials believe that successful businesses must follow a purpose. The vast majority also seek brands with core values matching their own.

For your customers

When your customer service and external communications are all led by a set of core values, your customers and leads feel the difference. These guiding principles will ensure each person receives a consistent customer experience that makes you stand out from other companies. With 33% of Americans switching brands after one instance of poor customer service, your company’s values can help you build trust and take the competitive advantage by keeping your service quality high.

Because your company values are unique to your brand, they also play a big role in customer loyalty. Your customers will return to support a brand with values that they can believe in. When you hone in on your core values and increase your customer retention rates by just 5%, you can increase profits by as much as 95%.

Defining your company values

Most businesses will select at least three (but no more than 10) brief phrases or statements that outline the mindset that lies behind their decision-making. Here are three tips to help you define your own company values.

1. Brainstorm with your team.

When developing your core values, you should never do so alone. Currently, only 27% of employees strongly agree with their company’s core values, illustrating the need to take into account your team’s innate values, as well as how they view your company.

Bring together a group of your senior team members—the more diverse the better—to pool together ideas and narrow them down. Then get feedback from staff. Employees from different teams may have insights about your customers’ values, which may be worth including in the discussion as well.

2. Consider your mission statement

Your mission statement already articulates your company’s purpose (the “why”), so by default, it gives a hint at your values (the “how”). As you narrow down your company values, think about whether or not they align with your mission statement.

If a value doesn’t align, it’s likely not a good fit, and you probably won’t be able to commit to it. Conflicting values can lead to a lack of employee engagement in your workplace culture and inconsistent service that doesn’t wow your customers.

If your business doesn’t already have a mission statement, you may want to create one before creating your values.

3. Look at your customer feedback

If you have any type of online presence, such as a Google My  Business or Facebook page, there’s a good chance that you already have customer feedback in the form of online reviews. Take a look at them and see what your customers love about your business. What values are you already displaying to them without purposely doing so?

To get a comprehensive view of your customer feedback, you may want to use a tool like Podium Reviews to streamline your online reviews onto one platform. Some business owners may also choose to send a survey to their customers to get further insight into their values. Showing consideration for what your audience thinks can also help boost your customer success.

Examples of company core values

To give you some inspiration for your own core values, we’ve compiled effective company values from some of the most successful companies today. While these are the overarching values that each organization upholds, it’s important to remember that some of the best company values have detailed explanations behind each value. Sometimes this information is publicly viewable on a dedicated landing page while other times, it’s outlined in an employee handbook for internal use.

As you scroll through these company value, take note of any keywords that can fit into your own workplace.

Zappos

The company culture at Zappos is one of the most highly regarded among business owners and HR professionals. This is largely thanks to their commitment to these company values:

  • Deliver WOW through service
  • Embrace and drive change
  • Create fun and a little weirdness
  • Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  • Pursue growth and learning
  • Build open and honest relationships with communication
  • Build a positive team and family spirit
  • Do more with less
  • Be passionate and determined
  • Be humble

These are actionable keywords that can easily drive team members to pursue great relationships with coworkers and customers and to work toward continuous improvement.

Airbnb

While every company’s values should align with their actions, Airbnb adds to this by creating value statements that completely align with their brand and products as well:

  • Champion the mission
  • Be a host
  • Embrace the adventure
  • Be a “cereal” entrepreneur

The last company value is unique, as it calls back to a little Airbnb history where the company pulled itself out of $40,000 in debt almost entirely by selling election-themed cereal. This is a great example of telling the story of your brand through your core values.

Adobe

Adobe is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best workplaces, and yet its core values are extremely simple:

  • Genuine
  • Exceptional
  • Innovative
  • Involved

This shows how a business doesn’t have to create long or complex statements to have effective company values. Part of what makes a great company is being known for having great people who put your values into practice. Imagine a company with people who embody the four values above. Sometimes big ideas are best communicated with simplicity.

Work with values in mind

When you and your employees all work with the same company values in mind, you can efficiently work as one team toward the same overarching goals. As you do so, your customers will experience what makes your business unique—and they’ll understand why they should choose you instead of your competitors.

Once your company values are in place, you can start thinking about additional tools that can increase your productivity and company-wide collaboration. Learn how to boost employee engagement with internal communication tools.

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