…Three French Hens!

It’s Day 3 of the 12 Days of Branding. If you missed any of the series thus far, you can find them here. In today’s installment I give you three examples of small business brands with solid core values that know how to walk the talk.

Brand values are your company’s core values as represented by your branding (and vice versa).

These values should build an emotional connection with prospects and customers, and many experts tell us that consumers now look specifically for brands whose values match their own. Knowing this, I consciously established my brand values as:

  • Deliciously Clear Communication
  • Passionate Pursuit of Learning and Curiosity
  • Joyful Creativity
  • Sincere and Genuine Generosity
  • Supportive Community and Meaningful Relationships

For me, communication is at the heart of every relationship. It’s what helps us have relationships to begin with. Yep, it’s that important.

And since we’re all about communicating here, it makes sense that I would value every and all method for ensuring that all messages are received loud-and-clear. Learning, teaching, sharing and growth are all parts of how I like to do business.

I’m a huge believer in empowering others through the learning process. I think it’s what frees us all to then be our most creative selves.

And creativity is what really puts a zing in my heart. When I’m creating something new — whether it’s a blog post, a painting or a new dish — I’m in the zone. And the more I can bring that feeling into every bit of my business, the happier I am.

Generosity is the position I try to occupy at all times. Because when I’m there, it means I’m living in abundance. And all my decisions then come from that place (as opposed to fear, or lack).

These core business values are fleshed out in more depth in my Entrepreneur’s Manifesto.

But stating your values and living your values are two different things.

While I may not always live up to my stated values perfectly, they’re always there, guiding my decisions, actions and interactions. They’re also associated with the Story Bistro brand via those same three methods — especially when I do them publicly. Remember: words are powerful, but actions speak louder.

If you’ve worked with me at all, I hope you’ve noticed.

Here are three more examples of small business brands who’ve consciously established — and communicated through actions! — their core values:


beecology logo Beecology is a small company, with just four employees including its two founders. They’re a family of beekeepers who produce eco-friendly, natural bath and body products, and have received a lot of great national and local reviews. They’ve even been picked up by Whole Foods and a national distributor.

Amy and David Rzepka, and their 3 children (the Beecology founders)

Amy and David Rzepka, and their 3 children (the Beecology founders)

The founders, Amy and David met while attending Ohio State University. They’ve been married for over 22 years and have three teenage children.

Amy says her family has always valued nature and their time outdoors. Read more about their story here.

What you’ll notice is that Beecology is a business born from a love (or passion) for the outdoors. That passion informs the company’s core values (natural, renewable ingredients; healthy living, and sharing with others).

In addition to their adherence to sustainable and eco-friendly products, they donate 10% of their net profits to their consumer’s charity of choice.

The fact that every product carries that message is a strong reinforcement of the brand’s core values (each supported product contains a charity code and after the purchase, consumers can visit Beecology’s charity web site, sweetyear.org to enter the code and designate to which charity their percentage should be donated).

Beecology also spells out their brand promises on their own website, reinforcing those promises via conversations on Facebook and Twitter — and it’s paying off. Beecology has gained some real traction in the media over the last 5 years and continues to grow at a healthy pace, seeing an incredible 200% growth rate in just the last two years, alone!

Auto Lube Care

auto lube care logoThis little auto shop has been family-owned and operated since 1974, so it’s safe to say their online presence is relatively new.

But check out their vow they made public earlier this year. Glenn (the current owner) understands the value of transparency and letting folks know what you really stand for. He talks about how important the environment has always been to his family, and how he thought it was time to make a strong promise to do even better.

If you live or work in Ventura, CA, then you know that the Auto Lube Care brand name communicates a strong promise of service and caring for the environment. They’re an active member of the community and are currently spearheading an effort to build a coalition of small eco-friendly businesses in the area.

All that hard work pays off! They’ve been voted Best Oil Change in Ventura County every year since 2005, and were recently recognized by the Ventura City Council for their environmental efforts.

Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books logoBarefoot Books is an independent children’s book publisher that began with two mothers who wanted their children to have books that would feed the imagination, while instilling a respect for diversity and a love of the planet.

Today, they’re a world-wide community of writers, artists, storytellers, musicians, and others who are committed to providing timeless stories and captivating art that can help children become happy, engaged members of a global society. On their website, they state their core values: “Explore. Imagine. Create. Connect. Give Back.” They explain this in more detail:

It’s exploring other cultures, our planet, ourselves. It’s making time for make-believe and letting imaginations run wild and free. Most of all, it’s about using the power of stories to nourish the creative spark in everyone and strengthen connections with family, the global community, and the earth.

And you can see these core values in action both on and offline. They’ve got a thriving community section on their site as well as on Facebook and Twitter, and a fabulous video that highlights that point of view through words of that community:  Barefoot’s continues to communicate their brand values in offline experiences as well. Their website is a real treat and fun to explore, but they’ve taken that experience to the three dimensional world with offline events, studios and more.

What are Your Core Values?

If you’re unsure about how to express core values for your business, download this branding exercise and use your answers as a starting point. Back when I used to design logos, I often gave this to new clients as a way to help them narrow down what they wanted their brand to stand for. Spend some time writing about the topic or discuss it with a trusted colleague. You’ll be surprised at how many insights these can provide.

And if you’re still stuck, consider taking my Origin Stories e-course. Nailing your core values is part of that curriculum.

Remember: if you go too long without stating your core values for the world to see, it’s too easy to be who you’re not. And that’s no way to create a lasting brand.

Got a question or a tip of your own? Please share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Mark Robinson