Internal VS external values: why you need both

SketchCorp_blog_internal_versus_external_values 30 Mar, 2021

If you’ve heard the terms ‘internal’ and ‘external’ values, you might be forgiven for wondering why you need both – and what’s the difference anyway?  Well, wonder no longer – we’re here to give you the lowdown on what they are and why they’re BOTH essential to running a successful business…

We all know business can involve a lot of, well, busy-ness, and it’s easy to forget the ‘why’ of what you do – the thing that first drove you to start your company. Without both your staff and your customers having a clear understanding of your business, its purpose and its values, you run the risk of being inconsistent, confusing and, ultimately, unsuccessful – none of which sound like the dream ticket. That’s why we work with all our clients to clarify their internal and external values early in their business life, and then encourage them to revisit them often…

Internal values

As your business grows and suddenly you have a team, your workplace culture becomes just as important as knowing who your customer is and what they want. The people who work for you affect your brand and customer experience as much as your product or service offering and, as such, your team should embrace a list of internal values – using them as a guide for their behaviour and how they approach their work. 

Use this list of internal values as a training tool for new hires. Any new staff member who joins your team should be able to read the list and get an idea of what it’s like to be part of the team.

Let’s look at Starbucks as a prime example of what strong internal values might look like:


The focus here is on internal behaviour – what it feels like to be a part of your company. 

External values

External values, on the other hand, are outward-facing, and should reflect the things that matter to your brand’s potential clients. 

To come up with this list, it can be helpful to first articulate your ideal clients’ needs and draft key messages that will resonate with them. Once you’ve figured out what your customers are looking for from you, you can use your values to make sure you’re meeting their needs.

Here’s how Amazon articulates its core values – knowing that people want outstanding service and great products from them (and noting how customer and service-focused this list is):


Only when you know what your customer is really looking for can you create your ideal external values – so go forth and get to know them, today.