Integrity. Respect. Innovation. Collaboration. Chances are, if you’ve read up on corporate values at all, these are all words you’ve heard tossed around time and time again. Don’t get me wrong – integrity, respect, innovation and collaboration are all very honorable aspirations, but what do they really mean for your employees and your customers? And if every company stands for these same things, do they really stand for anything at all?

Company values matter. But, as we’ve written before, values should be more than words on a piece of paper. Values are an indicator of culture, and a reflection of your brand and what you as an organization stands for. Today, I’m sharing a couple of companies who, in my opinion, have values that really seem to bring their brands to life, articulating the essence of who they are.   

  • Nike’s 11 Maxims – Love or hate the Nike brand, they are true to who they are, right down to their values. Take, for example “Simplify and go,” “Master the fundamentals” and “We are on the offense – always.” The tone, the language and the meaning behind the words all support their vision – everyone is an athlete.
  • The Honest Company – For a company that was founded on the premise of greater transparency (it’s even in the name!), it comes as no surprise that “Create a culture of honesty” tops its list of corporate values. My personal favorite is “Pay it forward,” mostly because as a company they’ve put their money where their mouth is, donating products and employee time in support of their Honest to Goodness initiative.
  • Google’s Top TenGoogle’s culture has been a newsworthy topic for quite some time, so it’s no surprise that their values, or “Ten Things” as they are called, also are unique and noteworthy. Google’s values are very specific to their industry and what they do – “Democracy on the web works” is not a value that you’re likely to find anywhere else. The values also reflect who they are and how they operate, including values such as “you can be serious without wearing a suit” and “great just isn’t good enough.”
  • Zappos – In what is probably one of the strongest examples of how brand, culture and values work together, Zappos 10 Core Values clearly articulate what the company expects of its people, in their own words. “Create fun and a little weirdness” and “Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded” are far from typical corporate speak. The values are simple – but meaningful – and they resonate with employees from the receptionist to the CEO.

What do your company’s values say about your culture? Are they aligned with who you are and where you’re going? If not, it might be time for a refresh, for the benefit of your brand and your bottom line.