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My brand new bag (and making brand values count)

I’m not sure about you, but when I can’t sleep I usually end up staring into the blue glare of my phone for ‘five minutes’ and inevitably get sucked into an online rabbit hole for far longer.

Recently, the rabbit hole I went down was looking for a new laptop bag. Mine was tatty and I needed something a bit more spacious - but you probably don’t care about that. What you may care about is how this led me to ponder how brand values trickle down into the consciousness of the consumer.

I picked a bag (made from lovely waxed cotton with faux leather detailing) from a brand I’d never heard of, but, it seemed to have great products and the online store shouted about their ethos which struck a chord with me. They got the sale. But the point to this story isn’t my lovely new bag.

When I got to the shipping page, I was presented with two delivery options - UPS or DHL. Both would cost the same amount of money and they both promised to deliver my new bag on the same date. So why would I choose one delivery company over the other? I had no additional facts to help me weigh up the decision. Nor had I the inclination to find any if I’m honest. I wasn’t that awake and in need of even more procrastination.

So I used what I had. Outsider knowledge of two delivery behemoths - both household names that, as far as I knew at the time, offered the exact same service. And I couldn’t remember a time when I had specifically made a conscious choice to use either. So did I have an allegiance? It turns out I did.

At 1:52 am, I chose UPS. Why? Because of the image they outwardly project - a heritage brand reflecting experience and tradition. Trustworthiness, even. Choosing them over DHL, rightly or wrongly, felt like the natural choice. And I’ll admit I quite like their vintage-style brown delivery vans too.

Whether that was reflective of the actual values of UPS, I didn’t know. But in the early hours, that assimilated perception was enough for them to win the toss up.

So to the actual point: as people, in our private and our professional lives, we are presented with choices all of the time - and we’ll often make gut decisions about things. Yes, consumers are becoming far more discerning, but the reality is, more often than not they will go on a feeling. A spark.

Sometimes your values will be the only differentiator when you’re up against similar companies offering similar products or services. So it’s important that you define them. And actively project them.

Don’t hide them on your website. Be them. Make sure they come through in everything you do. How can you project them in your advertising? How will your employees embody them? How can they positively impact the way your company operates? How do the clients, partners or suppliers you work with stack up against your values? Do they uphold the same high standards? Are they likeminded? How will they resonate with your target audiences?

It doesn’t matter if your company is a startup in the throes of forging its ethos and culture, or an established global giant. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a physical product like a laptop bag or somebody’s dream home, or offering a service like parcel delivery or end-of-life care. What matters is understanding that people will take notice of the values you project - consciously or otherwise - and they will count.

Be the sum of your every part. Because it could get you that sale.