Why Core Values Matter

When I’m helping an organization build its brand foundation and we get to Core Values, someone will invariably ask, “Does anyone really care about those? Do employees pay attention to them? Do customers?” The answer is, “Yes, yes and yes.”

Today more and more people are looking at company’s Core Values (which Built to Last author Jim Collins calls “a small set of timeless principles”). This is because they want to either do business with or work for people whose values are similar to their own.

Harvard Business Review featured a study by Corporate Executive Board (CEB) advisers, which revealed that interactions don’t build relationships with consumers – shared values do. CEB reported, “Of the consumers in our study who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason. That’s far and away the largest driver.”

So, yes, prospective customers do care about values, and today it speaks volumes if organizations have them – and especially if they don’t.

But the real benefit of Core Values is to an organization’s team members. Defined values provide direction on how business should be conducted – how employees treat their clients, communities and each other.

Of course, the mere existence of a set of values does not guarantee that all business is conducted above board – Enron’s values were respect, integrity, communication and excellence. But companies who take the time to identify their values then make a sincere effort to live them out every day position themselves for success – to be the kind of place people want to work, and the kind of people customers want to reward with their business.