I was reading some material on a solar panel company recently and through reverse engineering discovered their brand values to be integrity, hard work and customer service. These are all great qualities… but horrible, undifferentiated brand values. Also note, none of these values are endemic – physically tied to the product or service. As such, any service company could use this triad of values. It’s, therefore, meaningless. In fact, it’s harmful – burying one in a sea of sameness.
Pop Quiz. Name a solar panel installer known for integrity, hard work and customer service. Name and financial planner known for integrity, hard work and customer service. See where I’m going with this?
I did a brand strategy for a service company in the commercial maintenance business. They clean commercial buildings, mow lawns and remove snow, among other things. Their brand strategy claim was “Navy seals of commercial maintenance” and their values (I call them proof planks) were “fast,” “fastidious” and “preemptive.” Now fast may not sound very differentiated, but when you balance that with fastidious and add the very unique preemptive, you have a value triad that kills. Are these values endemic to a cleaning business? Maybe not, you got me. But they are sure what customers care-about and what the commercial maintenance company is good at. Good-ats and care-abouts.
(When dealing with business-to-business service companies endemic is important but less important.)