At a time when consumers are exposed to thousands of marketing messages daily, are constantly connected to devices with a wealth of information available at any given moment, and when competition for customers is stronger than ever, brands need to find a way to connect with people.

Our Council of Better Business Bureau’s market research team recently used Google Surveys to ask 1,000 adults in the United States and Canada what values are important to them when relating to other people and what is important to them when relating to a business. The values that appeared most in both sets of answers were honesty, integrity, trust, respect, loyalty, forgiveness, kindness and caring. The survey results also revealed that customers prefer businesses that are customer-centric and that value customer service.

Customers want more than a transaction. They want an experience and a relationship with a brand. They also want to know that their values align with the values of the brands they choose to do business with.

Values that are built within an organization are usually not accidental and oftentimes come from the personal character traits of the organization’s leaders. The most effective organizational leaders demonstrate “Transformation at the Top”. They strive, by example, to model high character consistently and humbly. Over time, these leaders build a pervasive culture of trust.

I’ve seen many companies post their organizational values on their websites, print them on materials for their employees and even frame them for hanging in the office. But too often, that is all that is done with them.

Businesses need to put their values in action. Values need to be talked about and practiced and employees need to be encouraged commit to them. Living your organizational values can help guide decisions and behavior with each other and the customers you serve.

Steve Jobs once said, “To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”

BBB offers a few tools to help business leaders get started in creating meaningful values in their organization.

  • BBB’s Leadership TRUST! Review. This self-review is designed to provide a starting point to assess the extent to which a leader’s focus may be required to advance a culture of high trust.
  • UnCommonSense Framework. This is a framework of 20 character traits divided into four areas of focus that any business can adopt as their own set of values. This tool is oftentimes used in conjunction with the Leadership TRUST! Review.
  • BBB Standards for Trust. These eight principles summarize the important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business. Trust, honesty, and integrity (three of the traits consumers valued most in business as referenced above) are incorporated into these standards.

These tools can be accessed on our website by visiting and clicking on the Programs/Services tab.

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