Every startup and small business has a story to tell, something that will connect potential customers to your brand. As a business leader in the social media age, you have an opportunity to draw devoted customers by rethinking the way you express your company’s core value.

Foodily, a new online recipe database, set out to brand themselves as the largest recipe aggregator on the web. But after hiring LoveSocial, a Vancouver-based social media agency, they realized that wasn't the story to tell.

Founder Azita Ardakani redefined Foodily's core value, saying it gives you the opportunity to spend more time eating at home with family and friends. On social media, she asked consumers to share their favorite dinner table memories and what it means to them to eat at home. "We saw a natural conversation erupting," she says.

What made Ardakani’s interpretation of Foodily's core value so much more successful was that it created an opportunity for human connection. "Human connectivity is the DNA of social media," Azita says. 

Related: A Quick Guide to Making Your Brand's Story More Compelling

In order to engage customers, strive to create that emotional pull. Try these three tips to articulate your core value and humanize your brand

 1. Expand your idea of value. To stand out in today's market, define your value in human terms, not in business terms. "[Companies] often look at their core value in direct correlation with sales," Ardakani says. "That commercial carrot is very distracting to who they are and who they could become." 

Your real value is about what you believe in, what you’re trying to do in the world, and how you make others’ lives better. "You need to drill down to why you matter," Ardakani says.

You might ask: How is your product being created? What is your office culture? You're looking for the thing that your organization truly cares about -- an aspect of your business that makes you unique and valuable to the world around you.

2. Establish common language. Your company's core value is a bit like your vision -- everyone at your company needs to be on the same page. "A CEO and employee might describe the company totally differently," Ardakani says. "[Common language] creates internal alignment about who you are."

Ask a handful of people in various ranks and roles to share five adjectives they'd use to describe the company and two aspects of the business that are unique or valuable. Look for themes or especially strong responses, and synthesize them into a clearly defined description.

3. Give your brand a human voice. Once you know why you matter and how to describe your value, choose the type of person that could best deliver that message. "You’re creating a persona," Ardakani says. Is it feminine or masculine? Mainstream or quirky? Opinionated or open-minded? If your business was a human being, who would it be and what would it care about?

That clarity leads to a real and relatable persona that helps you build a loyal customer base. "The brands that have been most successful in the social space have humanized their business" Ardakani says. "They've stayed true to who they are and been really open and honest."

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