What does your brand stand for?
People want more from companies today than just products and services. They want to buy from organizations who reflect their values, so they can help make a difference in the world. Developing brand values is essential to succeeding in business and can help you connect on a deeper level with your customers.
Start with your why. Why are you in business? What drove the founders of your company to get started? Maybe your company was started to create a custom solution for a specific problem that didn’t already exist or wasn’t accessible in the marketplace. Perhaps you went into business to produce better products that met your quality standards or to support a favorite cause. Go back to your company’s beginning, and see what values you find.
After you explore your company’s history, talk to your team. What do they think your values are? As you gather feedback, are certain values being mentioned again and again? Often, companies have values that drive their actions, but they aren’t written down. Once you identify your brand values, write them down and share them with your employees, customers, investors, business partners and the public.
If you’re struggling to identify your brand values, don’t panic. You may have not taken time to think about brand values while starting your business or working hard to build it. It’s never too late though. Now is the time to identify your brand values and create a path forward for your business.
Think about who you want to be. What do you want your company or brand to stand for? How can you help make your community or the world a better place? You may want to inspire yourself, your team and others, but your brand values can’t be purely aspirational. They need to be embedded in the DNA of your business, or they’ll come across as fake. Take time to think about what you want your brand to stand for because it’s important to your company’s future. People want more from you than things to buy, so brand values help you strengthen relationships with your customers.
Brainstorm with your team, so they can tell you what’s important to them. What kind of company do they want to work for? What principles guide them every day at work? You may be surprised at the common answers you hear, because you already had unwritten brand values. Are you a solopreneur? Talk to trusted advisors or fellow small business owners, who can be objective and help you identify your brand values. They may be able to see what is already guiding you more clearly than you can.
When you develop your brand values, write them down. Seeing your values in writing everyday will help you and your team commit to them. Your brand values should drive everything you do going forward, from making day-to-day decisions to big picture planning. Discuss your values with your team, so they understand them and take them to heart. Then, it’s time to publish your brand values to the outside world. Communicating your brand values to your customers, investors, business partners and the public will hold you accountable and let everyone know what your brand stands for.
As you begin to identify your brand values, they may seem generic or too common at first. For example, your company may be known for its outstanding product quality or legendary customer service. While these traits are thrown around often in the business world, you can still make them your own.
For example, our mission on the Farm is that we want nothing less than your complete satisfaction. In addition to generous sampling policies, tasting experiences and numerous awards we’ve received throughout our history for the quality of our products, we also offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If your recipients aren’t absolutely delighted with your gift, return it to us within 5 days and we’ll cheerfully replace it, issue a credit, or refund your payment, whichever you prefer.
Another principle that guides us on the Farm is shipping on-time. We work with companies on numerous promotions and event gifts that have a firm in-hands date. If they receive their gifts after that date, the gifts won’t be nearly as useful to them. So, it’s imperative that we communicate with our customers upfront about in-hands dates, so we ensure that we can meet them. By maintaining strict production schedules and doing anything we can to make things happen, we’ve shipped over 99.99% of all orders on-time since 1979.
Finally, we’re known for our legendary service. While a lot of companies tout their service, we’ve made this brand value our own. The average tenure of a Maple Ridge Farms customer service associate is over 10 years. They receive over 120 hours of training, until they know virtually every detail of every one of our products and services. Plus, we’ll always support any action our employees take on behalf of our customers. We built our company on the belief that every customer deserves our absolute best, and that’s just what we deliver.
Identifying your brand values will help you make a social impact with your business. Social impact is the effect your organization has on your community, your region, or the world, and the people living there. In addition to being a successful company, people want to know how you’re making a difference in the world. Are you addressing a pressing social issue? Are you focused on reducing your carbon footprint and cleaning up your community? Is volunteering a major part of your culture?
While you may already be making a difference, it’s important to tell your social impact story. What are your brand values? How are you acting on your values to make a difference? People want to buy from companies who reflect their values, so they need to know what your values are and how you’re acting on them. It’s not enough to state your values; you need to put them into action.
“One of the coolest things is that telling these stories will not only help your company's bottom line—it'll help the world, too.” -Joe Lazauskas, Head of Marketing at Contently
For years, giving back to the community and helping our neighbors has been at the heart of what we do on the Farm, but we never talked about it. We didn’t do it for the attention, so we didn’t see the point of sharing our volunteering and community outreach activities. Finally, Roger Burnett, Founder of Social Good Promotions and Story Brand Certified Guide, convinced us to share our social impact story and helped us create it. (Thank you, friend!)
Why Social Impact Storytelling Will Be 2021's Hottest Content Trend—and Could Even Help Save the Planet
While there are so many important issues to address today, sustainability seems to intersect them all. Preserving our planet is essential to our future, no matter where we live or who we are. No longer a trend, sustainability is an integral part of the buying experience for consumers. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada think it is important that a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly, according to a recent study by IBM and the National Retail Federation.
In our industry, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) has conducted extensive research on the demand for environmentally-friendly branded products. In the 2020 Global Ad Impressions Study, nearly half of consumers surveyed in the U.S. (46%) and Canada (49%) have a more favorable opinion of an advertiser if the promotional product they received was environmentally-friendly.
It’s clear that consumers are looking for more sustainable products and solutions. So, how can you incorporate sustainability into your brand values or social impact story?
We’re fortunate to be surrounded by the beauty of nature in central Wisconsin, so we’re passionate about making our operations more sustainable and reducing our carbon imprint. From creating environmentally-friendly gifts to reusing, reducing, and recycling, here are some of the ways we’ve gone green on the Farm.
We design our gourmet gifts to be as Earth-friendly as possible. On average, less than 3% of any gift needs to go to a landfill, and we’re working every day to reduce that to zero. We use recyclable packaging whenever possible, and most of our gifts include reusable boxes, cutting boards or desk accessories that will be used for years to come. All of our wood products are made from sustainable timber, so no rainforests were damaged to create them.
We love our rainforests, which provide the shaded canopy for cocoa, the principal ingredient of chocolate, to grow. That’s why nearly all of our chocolate is Rainforest Alliance Certified, which ensures that the farms have met the environmental, social, and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network. Learn more about our environmental efforts in our social impact story, or contact us or your distributor partner with specific questions.
So, what does your brand stand for? To connect with your customers on a deeper level, they need to know your brand values and how you’re acting on them. We hope you’re inspired to identify your brand values and share your social impact story, so you can inspire others. Let’s follow our values, share our social impact stories and keep working to make the world a better place, one brand at a time.
Ready to share your brand values, sustainability efforts or social impact story? Connect with us on social! We’re @MapleRidgeFarms on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and @mapleridgegifts on Instagram.