Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

Nov 23, 2010 | Brand Differentiation

I always get a chuckle when I see an organization’s purpose and values postered on their walls. What are they doing there? Values don’t go on the walls. They go in the strategy, the operations and in every customer experience.

The proof is in your actions. What strategic initiatives do you have in place to bring your company’s values to life?

Build Proof Points into your brand

Proof Points are programs, initiatives or assets that provide substance to your core values. They help communicate what your company is about and make your values tangible.

For example, L.L. Bean’s brand is geared towards outdoor enthusiasts. They are passionate about hunting, fishing and all things wilderness. One of L.L. Bean’s Proof Points is to keep their flagship store open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Many outdoor enthusiasts start their days very early. As fishermen know, the best fishing is at the crack of dawn. L.L. Bean understands and supports this lifestyle, and they keep their flagship store open and available to serve these customers.

L.L. Bean put their money where their mouth is. “Outdoor enthusiasm” is a value they could easily pay lip service to. They could show some wilderness shots on their website, and even put up a few articles on hiking, fishing and hunting. In many ways those simple acts could differentiate the brand. But the Proof Point of keeping their flagship store open 24-7-365 solidifies the value. It’s a clear marker for both the customers and the staff on L.L. Bean’s commitment to outdoor enthusiasts.

Proof Points differentiate your brand

Consider the companies you admire and respect. Time-and-time again you will see them making strategic investments in what they value most, their Proof Points. These are the investments that differentiate them.

Proof Points can take many forms, but they are always tangible – they are experiential. Apple values design, and you see it in their products. Nordstrom’s values customer service, and they prove it with their return policies. GE values management, and they invest heavily in their leadership development programs. Southwest Airlines values low cost air travel, and you see it in their prices.

What Proof Points does your company invest in?

Make your values a priority

Take a look at your company’s core values. Can you associate a Proof Point to each of your values? If not, you have to ask why.

Many of the corporate value statements I see speak of integrity, excellence and customer service. They proclaim the organization’s commitment to being an industry leader, and beating the competition. That’s all fine and good, but show me the investments in these claims.

If your company truly values something, commit to it and invest in it. Make it a Proof Point that your staff and customers will recognize and value.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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