How To Show Brand Values In Your Signage

16th October 2019

Brand values and signage

Many marketing professionals consider brand values to be the proverbial ‘secret sauce’ for their campaigns and products. Companies such as Nike, Lush and Innocent owe a large part of their success simply to their positioning and customers buying into their ideology.

However, you don’t have to be a giant corporation to make use of brand values. The signage at your place of business is a great way to tell the world who you are and what you stand for.

In this post, we’ll look at how to decide on good brand values - and some great ways to demonstrate them with your signs.

What are brand values?

A good way to think about brand values is to consider them the ‘personality’ of your company - what you stand for, your ethos, and your principles of business. These might be day-to-day ideals for high-quality products or fantastic customer service, or broader concerns such as caring for the environment or supporting humanitarian goals.

Your brand values can encapsulate what some marketers have termed the ‘why’ of your company - in other words, ‘why’ you do what you do? For example, tech giant Apple’s ‘why’ is that they want to improve daily life and creativity with innovation (or at least, that’s what their branding would have you believe).

It’s your motivation for doing what you do, and if you can frame it in a way that seems noble or inspiring it can become a core value.

Choosing brand values

Ideally, good brand values should be:

  • Unique: The whole point of establishing brand values for your company is to give it a distinct personality that stands it apart from its competitors, and for many big brands the value positioning is the major thing that differentiates them in the marketplace (after all, Nike trainers are still just trainers, but it’s mostly the aspirational-athletes-and-motivation branding that truly sets them apart).

  • Clear: Ideally, your brand values should be specific and easy to understand. Being too vague (‘we want to do a good job!’) or including too much stuff (‘we want to pay our staff well, sell only the best products, provide value for money, never give a customer a bad experience, always have a well-stocked store, be active in the local community, care for the planet and give to charity!’) isn’t really an improvement over not having any defined brand values at all. If possible, try to narrow your ideas down to two or three clear and distinct principles.

  • Emotive: For best results, your ideals should be something the customer might be passionate about or otherwise strongly agree with. If they admire your ‘why’, they will want to do business with you rather than your competitors.

    Ben & Jerry’s make good ice cream, but it’s their positioning as an eco-conscious and ethical company (with pictures of fields, cows, and Fairtrade logos on their product tubs) that boosts their popularity and sales above many of their competitors who also offer delicious frozen desserts - because people feel good about supporting them.

  • Memorable: If your brand values truly resonate with people, they will subconsciously think of those values any time your business name is mentioned. For example, it’s hard to think of Lego without simultaneously recalling their values of enabling colourful, wholesome creativity for children.

  • Evergreen: It’s not ideal for you to need to change your brand values in the future because you went all-in on something that eventually stopped being an issue to your customers. Don’t define your values in response to topical situations; instead, think about values that will stand the test of time and which will always be important.


Communicating brand values with signs

Having chosen great values to represent your business, the next step is to find ways to express or evoke them in your signage.

It’s a great idea to pick your most important value as the number one thing to represent, as too much visual clutter can make a sign hard to read. A good question to consider is: what is the one thing I want my customers to know about my business ethos before they even walk through the door?

That decision will provide a lot of the direction for your signage design, as you can use that one important brand value to dictate some of the colours, typography and messaging you will want to employ.

For example, if your number one value is trustworthiness, you might pick a mature font for your sign that gives an impression of professionalism or tradition; alternatively, if your focus is on sustainability and environmental issues, the colour green or imagery of a growing plant (or the planet Earth) could be a good way to communicate your dedication to green thinking.

Subway restaurant

As an example, the food giant Subway has established the following simple brand values:

  1. Improving health
  2. Reasonable prices
  3. Unique selection

Their signage uses numerous techniques to imply these values, including:

  • Use of the colour green to suggest health and nature (a common colour psychology association).
  • Simple, no-nonsense and approachable typography - their bold and simple wordmark has been chosen carefully to not imply prestige or expensive gourmet cuisine, but down-to-earth pricing and an unpretentious attitude.
  • The overall effect of the branding is very distinct from all other major food chains. No customer would confuse this store for a McDonald’s or a Pizza Hut, and thus Subway is able to imply that it offers a completely different selection to the competition.

Note that Subway could have simply written “unique, healthy food at reasonable prices” on the sign - but by finding visual shorthands with colour and typography, the brand values are communicated without them having to spell anything out.

Brand values aren’t just a cheesy marketing gimmick - they’re the reason why customers should care enough about your business to choose it over the competition. Starbucks didn’t invent coffee, and their product is by no means regarded as the best in the market - so why doesn’t everybody go to the independent café down the road?

In the same way that Starbucks offers more than ‘just’ coffee, and Apple doesn’t ‘just’ sell smartphones, you can add an extra layer of appeal to your products and services - and your signs can help get the message out to the world.

By clarifying your ethos and your ‘why’, you can make a powerful statement with your signage and ultimately encourage more potential customers to step through your door.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your signage project.