Best in Show: 5 Brands with Bankable Core Values

By April 27, 2021Branding

A well-grounded set of core values is fundamental in setting the tone for your bank’s culture, defining your internal brand and shaping your overall business strategy. It’s crucial that you develop a framework that truly suits your brand.

Processes and strategies will likely change over the years, but a solid set of core values will stand the test of time, because it is in the company’s DNA.  

Here are five businesses that use core values effectively to define their brand identities. 

#1 – has set forth 10 core values that are rooted in the company’s unconventional and nimble approach. 

Zappos Core Values
  • Deliver WOW through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change
  • Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More With Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble
Why these values work for Zappos

The company seeks to differentiate itself as uniquely innovative. It’s all about thinking outside of the box, going above and beyond what’s expected and celebrating individuality. Zappos’ philosophy is that people do their best work and have more inventive ideas when they feel free to openly express their true selves. Its core values reflect this philosophy. 

The core values also spell out the importance of embracing change. Zappos has experienced periods of very high growth, and so its culture is similar to that of a startup, raising up the qualities of adaptability and resourcefulness. Leadership knows that someone who dislikes change, for example, would not be a good fit for the team, so Zappos shares this principle upfront in its core values. 

#2 – Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has divided its core values into two buckets: “Live the Southwest Way” and “Work the Southwest Way.” 

Southwest Airlines Core Values 
  • Live the Southwest Way
    • Warrior Spirit
    • Servant’s Heart
    • Fun-LUVing Attitude
  • Work the Southwest Way
    • Work Safely
    • Wow Our Customers
    • Keep Costs Low
Why these values work for Southwest Airlines

We like a few things about Southwest Airlines’ core values. First is the unusual spelling of “love” in “Fun-LUVing Attitude.” Southwest Airlines is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as Southwest Airlines (LUV) and it headquarters out of Love Field in Dallas, Texas. This reference to the company’s stock name and unconventional spelling of the word “love” will make the core value easier to recall. For team members to act in a way that is consistent with a company’s core values, it’s important that they are memorable. 

Next, you’ll notice the core values are divided into the categories of “work” and “live.” The values, on one hand, address processes and behaviors. On the other hand, “Live the Southwest Way” addresses the adoption of certain attitudes.  

It reminds us of our own Thoma Thoma mantra: “Live Your Brand.” When you live your brand, everything you do — your communications, your culture development, your customer experience design and delivery, your sales conversations, your executive speeches, your website, your public relations activities — all flow out of a core ideology. 

#3 – FNBC

As CDFI bankers, building trust in the community is vital. That’s why FNBC’s core values are all about integrity and accountability. 

FNBC Core Values
  • Integrity in Word and Deed
  • Servant Leadership in Relationship
  • Accountability in Action
Why these values work for FNBC

FNBC’s core values are short, simple and to the point. The bank has boiled down its philosophy into three tenets: 1) behave ethically, honestly and using appropriate discretion; 2) care for others, then yourself; 3) do what you say you will do. 

Simple can be good, because it helps staff to remember and live by the core values. 

FNBC spends a lot of time encouraging and reinforcing its core values through its Brand Council and twice-annual bank wide meetings. Further, like Southwest Airlines, it breaks its three main tenets down into more granular statements that predict certain behaviors. With continual reinforcement and celebration, FNBC has built its core values into its very DNA.

#4 – The Container Store 

The Container Store’s core values, or foundational principles, are closely tied to its identity as a business. It describes these principles as “What We Stand For.” 

The Container Store Core Values
  • 1 Great Person = 3 Good People
  • Communication IS Leadership
  • Fill the other guy’s basket to the brim. Making money then becomes an easy proposition
  • The Best Selection, Service & Price
  • Intuition does not come to an unprepared mind. You need to train before it happens.
  • Man in the Desert Selling
  • Air of Excitement
Why these values work for The Container Store

The Container Store’s core values are all about treating employees, customers, vendors, shareholders and the community with respect and dignity. It takes a moral stance on all elements of the business and believes that if these fundamental principles are upheld, sales will follow. 

The Container Store has very smartly turned these differentiated core values into selling propositions for the company. For instance, with “1 Great Person = 3 Good People,” it not only articulates a hiring philosophy focused on excellence, motivation and cultural fit, it explains to customers that these Great Persons are the reason they will have a special experience shopping at the Container Store. If you’ve shopped there, you know the truth of this promise.

#5 – Capital Hotel 

The Capital Hotel’s core values are all about embracing the hotel’s unique history, culture and charm.  

  • Meaning 
  • Story 
  • Improvisation 
  • Curiosity 
  • Generosity
  • Humility
  • Eccentricity
  • Southern Culture
Why these values work for the Capital Hotel

The Capital Hotel is in the business of creating memorable and satisfying experiences. Its core values reflect an intentional effort to celebrate tradition and Southern culture — along with its emphasis on exceptionally accommodating service. The core values say staff are tasked with “creating a yes” to any request. They encourage staff in the unique and “Southern Comfortable” hospitality delivery that the hotel wants to be known for.

You might see a few through lines across the core values of the businesses above. For example, several of the brands prioritize humility, truthfulness or economic efficiency. These qualities are desirable in many different industries.  

However, there are many more differences among these values, although they each serve their purpose for the individual brands. 

Core values can be incredibly individualistic. They are unique to your industry and your business. It’s about understanding and embracing your brand identity — who you are and also who you want to be.

Author Jennifer Joyner

More posts by Jennifer Joyner

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