Most Brand Values Are Sh*t. Here’s Why


Brand values are more important than you may think. With many professional services firms, big and small, offering everything from accounting and law to financial planning, standing out is more than just offering exceptional services. It’s about resonating with your target audience on a deeper level.

Brand values form the heart of this connection.

From the start, it’s important to realise that brand values aren’t just tools for attracting customers. They’re not merely for marketing purposes. Instead, consider them the fundamental principles guiding your brand’s acts. This behaviour shapes the overall experience and builds confidence in people who choose to work with your firm.

Brand Values Build Trust Through Familiarity

Humans, by nature, seek safety and familiarity. This extends to our choices in brands and services. For professional services firms, where the stakes involve financial well-being or legal matters, trust is of the utmost importance.

By establishing and communicating clear brand values, firms create a sense of safety. Potential clients are likelier to engage with a brand that reflects values they can relate to, as this familiarity breeds trust.

What Brand Values Are Not

Most brand values within professional services firms are poor. It may sound harsh, but it’s the cold hard truth. We often see the following list of brand values as a staple across hundreds and hundreds of firms:

  • Professional
  • Innovative
  • Honest
  • Ethical
  • Integrity
  • Client-centric
  • Responsive
  • Transparency

All of the above values are not values at all. Rather, they are implied or expected traits from clients when working with their advisers.

A brand’s core values are more than words on a website or a brochure. They are not a collection of buzzwords that sound fancy in an attempt to paint a professional firm image.

It would be hard for people to connect with a firm that has similar, if not the same, brand values as several other firms.

Triggering An Emotional Connection

Brand values are the principles that dictate how a brand behaves, makes decisions, and interacts with clients. Brand values bridge the emotional gap for professional services firms, where services can often seem impersonal or intimidating.

They transform a corporate entity into a brand with personality, making it easier for clients to connect emotionally. When clients feel that a firm understands their concerns and is genuinely interested in their well-being, it creates a strong emotional bond.

Values That Reflect Your History And Legacy

Just as our personal values are shaped by our upbringing and heritage, a firm’s brand values often reflect its history and legacy. They are a testament to the firm’s journey and commitment to certain principles over time. This depth adds a layer of authenticity and credibility, appealing to clients who value tradition and longevity in their professional service providers.

In the long run, your values define what the brand stands for and the legacy it aims to leave. This is particularly significant in professional services, where reputation drives client trust and loyalty.

Traits Of Strong Brand Values

Having a set of brand values is a good start, but they must be more than just words on a page. For a brand to draw in clients, it must live out these values in everything it does.

Let’s look at Zappos, for instance. They don’t just talk about their values. They put them into action. They focus on:

  • Delivering outstanding service,
  • Creating a bit of fun and quirkiness, and
  • Building open and honest relationships through good communication.

This approach means their actions reflect their brand values, making them attractive to customers.

Your values need to be action-oriented.

Simply picking nice-sounding words won’t do. Your brand needs values that can be seen in your actions as a team and firm.

Your values need to be easy to remember.

Your team should be able to remember these values without a struggle. They should be able to show these values in their work and how they interact with clients. If the values are too hard to remember, they’re probably ineffective.

Your values need to be distinctive.

Avoid generic terms and cliches. For instance, if sustainability is central to your brand, actively stating, “We commit to protecting our planet” carries more weight and specificity than merely using “sustainability”.

Your values need to be long-lasting.

Brand values shouldn’t be constantly changing. They need to be timeless, remaining relevant and strong over the years.

Defining Your Brand Values

The firm’s leadership team, not the marketing or branding team, should be the driving force behind your brand values. Brand values should ideally reflect the business owners’ personality, who infuse their character into the business and steer it towards long-term success.

Instead of using popular words similar to many other firms, answer these questions to create your brand values.

Define what is important to you in the way you do business.

Firm owners likely have a clear understanding of their operational methods and the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of their business. Nonetheless, this initial step involves articulating that understanding.

Define what you want clients to say about your brand (The reputation you want to build).

Consider how you want clients to describe your brand’s character and actions, not just your services. Imagine if clients were to associate certain words or traits with your brand. What would those be?

Do you want your clients to see your brand as dependable and trustworthy? Or do you want them to view it as a daring, innovative business unafraid of taking chances for the greater good?

Define the nature of your brand experience (What do you want people to feel? What do you want people to walk away with?)

Think about the lasting impression you want your brand to leave. This impression is not just about clients’ thoughts but also involves everyone connected to your firm, such as referral partners and employees. In this stage, you establish how your audience views your brand and how it differentiates itself from the competition.

Consider how you can make the experience with your brand uniquely yours. How will you embed your brand values into every interaction to create a distinct and memorable experience?

Make this exercise a brainstorming activity with your business partner, your team or even your spouse. Get out the whiteboard markers and allow the creative juices to flow.

Brand Values Matter More Than You Think

Think of brand values as the magic ingredient that makes your firm stand out. They’re more than just cool-sounding words on your website or in a brochure. These values are like your brand’s GPS, guiding how you act, treat your clients, and stand out in a crowded market.

When you get your brand values right, they’re like a magnet. They don’t just bring clients to your door. They keep them coming back. Your brand becomes more than just a service – it becomes an experience people remember.

But don’t just throw around trendy words like “innovative” or “transparent” and call it a day. Take the time to dig deep and develop brand values that make your firm different. This will set you apart from the crowd and prevent you from sounding like everyone else.

Need a hand figuring out your brand values? You’re in the right spot here at Practice + Pixels. We know our stuff when it comes to branding for professional firms.

Our streamlined process is all about getting the best out of your leadership team to craft brand values representing your firm. Would you like to chat? Reach out to us!

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