Does Your Brand Have Enough Cred to Be a Values-Based Brand?

When the prevailing consumer attitude is “don’t tell me, show me,” what values can a brand highlight to spark consumer interest? Consider this article a jumping-off point.

Making Values Bring Value

We are working with a food and beverage ingredient provider that has a great values-based story to tell. There’s an interesting founder’s story, they adhere to ethical sourcing practices and so much more. This sparked a conversation among our team about what proof it really takes to be a values-based brand. Here are the components we identified. They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive, so it got a little tricky. Would love to know if you would add to the list.

A brand could make a credible values-based promise if it embraces one or more of these components:

  • Clean Ingredients: Clean ingredients or clean label prioritizing using fewer, simpler ingredients. There may be no additives, preservatives or chemicals. Minimal processing can underscore this as well. While this is often seen in food/beverage and personal care, clean ingredients are becoming more common in durable categories, such as mattresses and bed sheets. Note that this overlaps a fair amount with the idea of “responsible materials.”
  • Responsible Materials: Sourcing materials and ingredients with a focus on sustainability. Sustainability can stem from many things: recycled or repurposed materials, organic production that doesn’t harm the land or avoidance of depletable natural resources.
  • Ethical Production: Working with companies, or being a company, rooted in fair labor practices, and allowing visibility into the production process. Ethical production can include ensuring no child labor practices, the presence of fair wages and safe working conditions, in addition to things like no animal testing and no deforestation.
    • Ethical people management can be a subset of ethical production. Consumers like to purchase from companies that go above and beyond in treating their employees well. Family-friendly work schedules, childcare accommodations, volunteer opportunities and helping families through challenging financial situations are a few examples of things that can help anchor a values-based equity.
  • Reducing Waste: These organizations are trying to counterbalance the mindset of “all things are disposable.”While this certainly includes recyclable components, it can also be achieved by longer life span products, small batch production and repair-reuse services.
  • Local: The ability to reduce transportation needs impacts environmental quality, and local can help keep dollars in the adjacent communities. We’re taking a wait-and-see approach to whether or not people will continue their increased commitment to local once COVID-19 is behind us.
  • Diversity: It may be a diverse workforce, a diverse board of directors, or a product line that caters to a diverse, inclusive audience. Diversity goes beyond gender, race and ethnicity, as it includes people with disabilities, the LGBTQIA+ community and people raised with varied socio-economic backgrounds and educational differences, to name a few.
    • BIPOC and Women’s Empowerment: These companies put focused effort on elevating the voices and the power of these audiences, either within their own inner workings, via their brand efforts or both.
  • Philanthropy: Not limited to giving a portion of sales to a worthy cause, some companies work from the buy-one, give-one modelor collect, repair and redistribute their products. Foundational giving and scholarships can apply here as well. Being explicit about what the organization stands for and believes in (e.g., clean drinking water) can be a differentiator.

Does your business have a strong enough case to be perceived as a values-based brand? We’d love to explore the possibilities with you. Drop us a line when you’re ready for some brand self-examination.