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Who cared about your values?

Author: Katie Hart

Date: 01 Aug 2022


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Who cared about your values?

Many organisations talk a lot about values. We spend huge amounts of time ensuring they are the ‘right’ ones and that they represent the organisation we are today. We spend even more money on communicating them via our websites, premises and social media channels, to ensure actual and potential customers are aware of them too. But is all of this really worth it?

In a recent study, I had the opportunity to explore the responses which go on inside people’s brains when they read a few of the core values or propositions that organisations often cite. This was conducted alongside some research on my website which asked people to select the three which they felt most engaged them. The results are as follows:

Results from the Website

The terms are listed in order of how frequently they were selected as being engaging:

1 – Quality (26.6%)

2 – Trust (20.9%)

=4 Reliable (17.7%)

=4 Value (17.7%)

5 – Sustainable (13.3%)

= 7 Bargain (1.3%)

= 7 Cheap (1.3%)


Results from the EEG brain analysis

Overall, Trust achieved the highest score for engagement across all of the participants, with Sustainable taking second place overall and for females. However, the males pushed Sustainable into third position, and in their second place was…Cheap (which came in 6th out of the 7 terms for the females). And What about Quality I hear you cry? Well, contrary to it being top as most people reported, it actually came in overall third position, although it was fourth for the male participants.

So what does this tell us? Firstly, that as I often see, there was a clear difference between the ways the genders responded to the terms. Secondly, the differences are highly significant for some terms and should be treated with caution.

For example, the word Reliable. On the stress metric, this was almost neutral for women, producing an average response of 50.25%. That is good, it means they are comfortable with it and are not threatened by it. However, the average male response to this term was 73.79%. Wow, that is a major negative result. This term caused them to perceive threat and feel overwhelmed or ill-equipped to be handle the challenge. All from reading just one word on a screen.

Conversely, Reliable topped three of the females’ metrics – excitement, interest and focus all of which are key for us if we want to achieve a positive response from our communications.

So, if Reliable is one of your values or a term you regularly use in your marketing materials, please proceed with extreme caution as the responses you could be creating within the brains of your audience, may well be not what you intend.

What next?

As ever, please do let me know if you have any questions on this, or would like to discuss how it could be applied in your situation.

Before you head off to take part in this month’s survey (which you can find here) I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who took part in this research! I hope you found it useful and enjoyed being involved.

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