Differentiate on Values

If all brands assert the same values, they cancel each other out. Next, the evolved consumer brain seeks out new evidence that demonstrates intent. Recent studies have found that the consumer brain is more likely to accept your brand values if they are specific and measurable rather than simply stated without accountability. The evolved consumer brain has become cynical. Its built-in defense mechanism tells the consumer, “Just because the brand says ‘service’ doesn’t mean they will actually provide service.”

The consumer brain looks for other signs or cues that will indicate intent. We also apply this logic toward any social being and even animals. This is why the human brain looks at a small animal with big eyes and has a different expectation of intention than it does for those animals with small, dark, beady eyes. Consumers fall for big-eyed dogs every time.

Of course the “size of a brand’s eyes” offers no proof of intent, but the consumer brain has to come up with some conclusion even when the input is limited. We call this function “belief attribution,” and this processing creates a permanent model for reference about your brand in the right hemisphere of the consumer brain. This is the emotional hemisphere of the consumer brain, where connections become more difficult to break.

Don’t just state a value. Disrupt the definition of that value. Make it specific and measurable or even emotionally engaging. Make the right brain take notice. For example, it might be time to update your core value of “service” to something like, “serve our guests like family” or “service in seven minutes or less.” That might be a more authentic value for your brand that can make you accountable to the consumer.

Once a tangible and measurable brand value becomes part of your culture, it becomes the true north of everything you do for your customers. That is how your customers become your “guests.” This is why Ritz-Carlton, the gold standard of service, inspires employees to “build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.”84 This clarity helps establish true north in the midst of the bustling winds of generic service.

– Excerpt from: Surfing The Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age