Do Customers Buy Because of Your Core Values?

Curt Fowler

Monday, July 7th, 2014

As we've discussed in previous posts, customers buy brands and they pay more for brands that they want to be associated with. But, it's not just your logo and advertising that creates your brand. Your brand is created by every interaction that a customer has with your organization. That is why it all begins with the core values of your organization. The core values drive your culture, which drive all of your customer interactions and those interactions define your brand!

In the HBR study 64% of customers who said they had a relationship with a brand, said it was because of the values they shared with the brand. Do you remember the Nike sweatshop scandal? Nike's products became associated with slave wages and worker abuse. Consumers didn't want to promote those practices by buying Nike's products and Nike was forced to make a massive turn around in the way it manufactured its products. The product quality was never a problem, the values of the corporation were what customers no longer wanted to be associated with.

On the flip side of the coin is Patagonia apparel. They make amazing clothing, but is it worth the up to 50% price premium? Their customers are not just buying the quality, they are buying the brand and what it stands for. Their brand stands for doing the right thing for the environment, for being a good steward of the earth God has given us and people flock to that brand.

But you know what? Plenty of people think that the folks at Patagonia are just environmental whackos selling overpriced shirts made out of recycled water bottles. That's OK. Those people are not Patagonia's target market.

To mean anything, brands have to stand for something. That something is the true values that your organization is built upon. Our world has become more transparent than ever. You can no longer hide your true values - at least not for long.

Here's the hard part, standing for something means you will really upset some people who don't agree with what you stand for. It hurts when people don't like you, but you cannot stand for something without people getting upset. If you try to please everyone you will be so plain vanilla that you no one will have a reason to like you.

Here's my advice. A strong brand requires you to turn some people off. Get used to it and stand up for what you believe in. Love everyone, but please don't try to please all of them!

What do you stand for? Or, are you just plain vanilla?

If you liked this blog, please share it with your friends and join the conversation by leaving a comment or question on our website.  While you are there you can sign up for email updates, or take our growth quiz.

Thank you for being a part of our values driven community!

About Curt Fowler

Curt Fowler is the President and Founder of Fowler & Company, a business advisory firm founded to help its clients maximize the value of their organizations. Curt is a Certified Public Accountant and earned his Masters in Accountancy from the University of Georgia. He also earned an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. He has spent 20 years studying and learning from some of the best businesses in America including Verizon, Sara Lee, Cox Communications and many more.