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Aligning brand values with customer expectations

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Brand values are the fundamental beliefs and principles that drive a company's behavior, culture, and decision-making. They define what a company stands for and represent its unique identity in the market. 

That's why aligning brand values with customer expectations is crucial for long-term success. Consumers look beyond just products or services. They want to connect with brands that share their values and beliefs. In fact, 64% of consumers are now belief-driven buyers who want brands to deliver on societal issues as well as products. 

For marketers, this presents a chance to craft content that profoundly connects with their target audience, increasing traffic, improving SEO, and elevating business metrics. 

Understanding modern consumers  

The modern consumer craves experiences and ethical community engagement from the brands they support. They are more conscious of environmental, social, and political issues than ever before. They expect brands to take a stand on these issues and make a positive impact in their communities.   

Modern consumers now also comprise mostly of Millennials and Gen Z, who are known for their high expectations and willingness to support brands that align with their values. In fact, these demographics now make up 75% of buying teams. For them, a brand reflects their personal values and reinforces who they are and what they support. The concept of 'voting with your wallet' is not just an idea for them; it's a way of life. As digital natives, their proficiency with social media amplifies their influence, shaping market trends and dictating brand loyalty like never before. 

In this context, brand values play a crucial role in shaping consumer perception and purchase decisions. If a company's values align with those of its target audience, it can create a meaningful and authentic connection that fosters trust, loyalty, and ultimately, advocacy. 

Core brand values that attract customers  

To align with the modern consumer, brands must first identify their core values and, most crucially, prioritize which values they wish to project and champion. Here are three areas that brands need to think about:  

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG)    

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values are increasingly important to modern consumers. They want to support brands that take responsibility for their impact on the environment and society. Sustainable practices, ethical sourcing, and transparency in operations are all ESG values that can attract environmentally conscious customers.  

For example, Patagonia has built its brand on environmental activism and sustainability. The company's core values align with those of its target audience, creating a strong emotional connection that drives customer loyalty and advocacy. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I)      

Recent social and political movements have raised awareness of many diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) issues. Many consumers are now actively seeking out brands that promote diversity and equality in their business practices. Brands that champion these values can create a sense of belonging for underrepresented communities and attract loyal customers.   

For instance, Ben & Jerry's has long been known for its progressive values and commitment to diversity and social justice. The brand's stance on issues such as racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights has resonated with its target audience, leading to increased customer loyalty and advocacy. 

Customer-centricity     

Customer-centric values are essential for brands looking to align with customer expectations. Consumers want to feel valued and heard, and brands that prioritize their needs and feedback can create a strong bond of trust and loyalty. Brands can demonstrate customer-centric values by offering personalized experiences, prioritizing excellent customer service, and consistently seeking feedback from their customers. 

One company that has successfully adopted this approach is Amazon. The e-commerce giant puts its customers at the center of everything it does, leading to a strong reputation for customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) values are also essential for brands seeking to align with customer expectations. Contributing to social causes and engaging with local communities reflects positively on a brand and can form deep connections with consumers. The rise of conscious capitalism has redirected focus to brands that give back and are committed to the greater good.  

One prime example is TOMS, which has built its brand around the 'One for One® model' For every pair of shoes sold, the company donates a pair to a child in need. This CSR value has resonated with TOMS' target audience, leading to increased brand loyalty and advocacy.  

4 strategies for brands to align with customer values  

Understanding the complex web of customer values requires a multi-faceted approach. Brands must:   

1. Understand the core values of their target market  

Engaging directly with customers and conducting market research to identify their values is the foundation of brand alignment. What issues do they care about, and how can a brand make a meaningful contribution?  

2. Get feedback to adapt and evolve  

Feedback loops are essential for brands to adapt their strategy and ensure continual alignment with customer expectations. Social listening tools and direct customer feedback mechanisms help to stay in tune with evolving sentiments.  

3. Be authentic in communicating brand values    

Authenticity is key to successful brand alignment. Customers can easily see through insincere attempts to capitalize on societal issues. Brands must genuinely believe in the values they promote and act on them consistently.   

4. Collaborate with like-minded organizations  

Collaborating with other brands and organizations that share similar values can amplify the impact of brand initiatives and create powerful advocacy. By joining forces, brands can reach a broader audience and demonstrate their commitment to social issues effectively. 

The future of brand-customer relationships   

As consumer values continue to evolve, brands must evolve with them. Aligning brand values with customer expectations is an ongoing process that requires a deep understanding of the target audience and a genuine commitment to making a positive impact in society. We can anticipate a more dynamic, transparent, and value-driven market going forward where long-term loyalty will hinge on authenticity and a shared ethical framework.    

Brands should also seek creative methods to convey their values by employing storytelling and creating compelling content to engage their target demographics. Moreover, harnessing technology and digital platforms will enable brands to broaden their reach and forge authentic relationships with consumers.  

Take the first steps towards brand alignment  

Achieving brand alignment heavily relies on leveraging digital channels such as social media, blogs, and websites. It's crucial that content does more than just market products; it should embody the brand's values and engage audiences on topics they are passionate about. Additionally, digital assets, including email signatures, should consistently communicate the brand’s message and align with its values.  

Exclaimer's email signature management platform ensures that every email reinforces a brand's commitment to its core values, turning each message into an opportunity for a better connection with customers. 

By prioritizing the essential relationship between what a brand represents and what its customers demand, marketers can unlock unprecedented potential. Brands who listen and adapt will emerge as the leaders of tomorrow's brand landscape.  

Book a free trial to see how you can turbo charge your email signatures with Exclaimer's award-winning email signature management software or request an online demonstration

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