Why Your Brand Values Matter to Your Instagram Followers – More Than Ever!12 min read


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Brand values matter to your Instagram followers. Don’t believe me? Just look at the data.

94% of consumers say they’re likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency, including what matters most. And a recent study by Accenture Strategy backs that claim up…

“Consumers are no longer making decisions based solely on product selection or price; they’re assessing what a brand says, what it does, and what it stands for. They support companies whose brand purpose aligns with their beliefs. And they reject those that don’t.” – Accenture Strategy on Brand Values

Okay, cool. So what does that mean for you? 🤔

When you’re marketing your business on Instagram, sharing your brand values authentically gives you a major competitive edge.

Take a look below to find out exactly what brand values are, how they impact consumer behavior, and what you can do to live yours out loud on Instagram. 🤗

What Are Brand Values?

People describe brand values in many different ways, but I personally love this definition from Jennifer Bourn:

“Your values are uncompromising truths and guiding principles that articulate what you stand for, and the primary driving force behind your brand, business, behaviors, and decisions.”

This video on “How to Identify and Define Your Core Brand Values” from Jennifer Bourn is really helpful if you’re not sure where to start with brand values!

Almost every business you interact with has brand values in some form. That means your business should too, even if you’re not a big brand. Trust me, they’re THAT important.

Typically, brand values are chosen alongside a mission statement (read: why does this business even exist?)

For example, here’s a peek at Tailwind’s six core values.

The Tailwind Values

The Tailwind team uses these values as a guide day in and day out, and have ever since we started!

  • Bravery – We strive to change the world for the better, even if it’s hard. We assume all things are possible. We dare to live a life of yes.
  • Growth – We aim to go to bed better every night. We support each other’s growth. We build with an eye to the future, not the present.
  • Inclusion – Everyone is welcomed, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, who they love or what they believe.
  • Ownership – We are all owners (literally). We take responsibility and don’t pass blame. We don’t rest until the problem is solved!
  • Transparency – Being transparent helps us do the right thing. Transparency shines a light on our mistakes, so we can fix them faster.
  • Performance – We focus on adding value. If we’re not adding value, we’re not doing our job.

These brand values are a part of our DNA. They define what we stand for, guide our conversations and help us make decisions to further our company mission: making world-class marketing easy for everyone.

Picture this: It’s June 2019, and the Tailwind team is gathered around the conference table. The stakes? Deciding what updates and launches we’re giving our users over the next year.

We pondered our choices, sweated in the summer heat, and studied oodles of user feedback.

We argued, opined, and enthusiastically said “absolutely not!” to several wild ideas. Most importantly, we revisited our values and our mission to figure out the right moves for our users.

In fact, those values are why we decided to test and launch one of our most requested features! 🙌

I’m super excited not to share one of our latest Tailwind updates: The Tailwind for Android app! The app officially launches next week, but you can grab early access here. 📱

When we say our mission is to make world-class marketing easy for everyone… we mean EVERYONE! 🥳

Tailwind for Android is Tailwind for ALL.

Go forth, and market fearlessly on the go with the Tailwind App on Google play. 🙂

Now, back to brand values. Wouldn’t it be nice if every company used their values to guide what they create or sell you? Unfortunately, not every brand uses these guiding lights.

Even though they should.

After all, brand values majorly impact consumer behavior. 👀

How Brand Values Affect Consumer Behavior

And now for those numbers I mentioned. 🎉

Accenture Strategy led a fascinating study titled “From Me to We: The Rise of the Purpose- Led Brand” in December 2018 about the impact of brand values on consumer behavior.

The global study surveyed 30,000 people to determine what consumers expect from brands they interact with, and just how important their brand values are!

Hint: They’re important.

  • 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on currently and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices. 
  • 53% of consumers who are disappointed with a brand’s words or actions on a social issue complain about it. 47% of those consumers walk away in frustration, and 17% NEVER come back. 😱

This presents a challenge for companies and brands that neglect to stand for something bigger than what they sell or believe they can simply avoid taking a position on issues. 

You can rise to the challenge 💪🏻 by shifting the conversation from “Me to We.”

That means moving beyond your interactions with customers that go something like “give ME what I want” to initiating a partnership to “support the ideals WE believe in.”

“Every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.”

Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock, Inc.

Why Consumers Buy From Brands (Besides Price and Quality of Products!)

a breakdown of survey results - "What attracts you to buy from certain brands over others, beyond price and quality)"
A breakdown of survey results around “What attracts you to buy from certain brands over others (beyond price and quality)? from Accenture Strategy

Here’s what matters most to consumers when buying products from brands (beyond price and quality):

  • 66% – the brand delivers on its promises and does what it says it will do, and the company is transparent about how it operates.
  • 65% – the company treats it’s employees well
  • 62% – the company believes in sustainability and protecting the environment, has ethical values and demonstrates them in everything does, or the brand is passionate about its products and services.
  • 52% – the brand stands for something bigger than products and services, and it aligns with my personal values.

Hint: Demographics Matter!

Not all brand purposes are created equal. Accenture also did some handy research on how key demographics, like geography, product categories, brand maturity, and consumer demographics might impact the types of values that matter most.

Here’s what you need to know:

Geography

The values you promote may resonate with some of your Instagram followers more than others depending on where they’re located.

For example, a retail store may have values centering on social issues that positively impact their community.

A global brand may value solving a problem on a global scale, such as environmental protection and awareness, global hunger, or racial divides.

In other words, your values may align more closely with the values of your followers depending on where they’re located, and their personal frame of reference.

If you’re a web-based brand, national or global brand, you can connect over values and purposes that appeal to people universally.

Makeup retailer Sephora launched a campaign called “We Belong to Something Beautiful” after an accusation of racial profiling by rapper SZA that occurred at a store in Calabasas.

Ideally, you don’t want to wait until a negative incident prompts change, but Sephora committed to its values of inclusion and diversity anew to positive reception from its customers.

Product Categories

Brand purpose is often less important to consumers who are buying “utility” products (or products that help people function in their day to day life.) Values are especially impactful for products that provide an “experience” and promote activity and connections for consumers.

Brand Maturity

Purpose and values are more impactful as a competitive advantage for new brands. This is especially true when they are competing with established brands that have built meaning around quality and a long reputation.

Establishing values and living by them is helpful for small, local or new businesses competing in an established market with seasoned players.

Consumer Demographics

Depending on the age and gender of your follower demographics, your values may matter more – or less!

Accenture found that “60% of Gen Z and Millenials believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on important societal issues like human rights, race relations or LGBTQ equality. Barely more than 50% of Gen Xers and Boomers felt the same.

However, if your audience trends towards Gen Xers and Boomers, keep in mind that your values are important for Gen Z and Millennials as they age.

Data trends suggest values will be important to future generations, so keep one eye on the horizon.

If you’re not sure exactly what the demographics of your Instagram followers are, good news! Instagram provides this information in Insights.

You can read about audience demographics on Instagram, as well as how to find them, in “How to Use Instagram Analytics to Increase Followers and Engagement“.

Why Your Followers Care About Your Brand Values on Instagram

Your brand values matter on Instagram. Consumer behavior is just as important on social media as it is on the web OR in brick and mortar stores!

There are two major reasons for this:

1. Your Customers Are On Instagram

There are over 1 billion users on Instagram daily. Chances are, most of your current (and potential!) customers, clients and fans are on the platform too.

Not only that, but about 800 million users are also following at least one business.

A 2019 study from Facebook found that people expect to find new products and services on Instagram ( 83%), will research them (81%) and even decide whether to buy a product or service (80%) using Instagram. Here are the numbers:

  • 83% of users say Instagram helps them discover brand new products and services
  • 81% say they research products or services on Instagram
  • 80% ultimately decide whether to buy a product or service with Instagram’s help

These statistics, tell us that one of your prime opportunities for selling your products is on Instagram. And remember – your values matter to consumers.

2. People Go to Instagram to be Inspired

As a visual platform, Instagram is one of the number one places people go to for inspiration. Whether they’re looking for new products, blogs or people they identify with, Instagram users want new ideas, humor, and relatable content.

Your values as a brand or business have the ability to inspire your audience, or, turn them away!

Instagram Stories survey on brand values when following new instagram accounts

After all, nothing gets an “unfollow” faster than values, stances or opinions that users just don’t agree with.

If you don’t believe us, just look at the Instagram Story survey we posted to our 43,000 thousand followers again!

95% percent of our followers said if they don’t agree with the values of a new account they’ve followed, they’re out (read: unfollow).

The values you stand for are an incredible way to connect with your audience. Here are some great examples of how to begin defining your values to your followers!

How to Define Your Values on Instagram

1. Call Your Followers to Action

REI, a member-owned co-op that values “purpose before profits.”

That purpose is the environment. The company frequently uses its platform to promote environmental preservation and inspire followers to action.

Take this post about the annual #OptOutside campaign for example.

REI closes its doors on Black Friday and encourages its followers to #OptOutside instead of shopping.

If your values include a cause or prominent social issue, consider using your platform to promote an action your followers can take.

Not only does this highlight your values as a brand, but it also creates a positive impact in support of the cause you’re promoting!

2. Speak Your Truth

Pattie Gonia is an Instagram personality that uses her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ acceptance and rights as well as eco-preservation and sustainability.

Pattie is not a traditional blogger or business. Rather, she uses her life experiences and values to inspire her many followers to action and new thoughts on issues close to her heart.

Pattie also frequently partners with brands and businesses, such as REI, AMEX, and more that align with her values and help further her mission. For example, this image and caption encapsulate one of her chief purposes.

That is to preserve Mother Nature and get everyone – regardless of orientation – into the great outdoors. 🌲🧗‍♀️🏳️‍🌈

3. Shine a Spotlight on Important Issues

You can also use Instagram to define your values simply by what you talk about.

Broadway and television actor Troy Iwata frequently discusses important social issues on his platform. These include sustainable living, LGBTQ+ rights, and representation in media.

Troy is candid about his experiences and challenges in the casting process. He also often highlights an overall lack of diverse representation in stage and television roles, as he does in this example.

Tonight, all 4 leads of our show were of Asian descent. How fun and normal is that? Thank you @bemorechillmusical for being a show that transcends identity.”

Living your values on Instagram doesn’t always have to be about large campaigns or grand gestures.

You can live your values by talking about what works and what doesn’t. Celebrate achievements, and shine a spotlight on things that need fixing.

Key Takeaways:

Whew, that was a lot of information! To sum it up:

  1. Values are the principles you stand by as a company. They inform what you do, what you say, and what you make.
  2. Values matter more to consumers than ever – and will probably continue to grow in importance!
  3. Instagram is an incredible place to live your values and connect with your followers.
  4. You can define your values to your followers by calling your followers to action, speaking your truth, and shining a spotlight on important issues.

Have you seen an Instagram account that portrays values well? How do they do it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments – we read every single one!

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