It’s widely accepted that in an over-crowded marketplace form, function and feature will not deliver a point of difference. At least, not a sustainable one. Today’s consumers reject being marketed to and are instead turning to brands that share their core values. Hence, a brand’s principles, and the alignment of what it stands for with the company values of its customers, are the priority and only real differentiator.

As a consequence, we as marketers now spend the best part of our time building reputation (delivering on promises) and relationships (trust) to ensure the brands we are responsible for make those vital, values-based customer connections.

But what about the values of the organisations behind the brands? How well are our employers/clients/agencies/business partners upholding their stated company values? Bear in mind, even companies that share the same operating name and brand will have subtly different company values and brand values.

During corporate courtship it is common for organisations to talk up their company values, and even to claim they are what set them apart. Yet, for the most part, organisational values are predictable and unoriginal. By way of example, consider how closely aligned the values of American Express and Google actually are, despite how differently they are articulated.

Whether the values are imbued in a brand or an organisation, trust is the foundation. It matters little whether the values are expressed traditionally or flamboyantly; the key is that they be authentic and upheld.