Brand values are one of the most important things that you need to be aware of when you’re thinking about your brand. That’s because your brand values are your guiding star -the direction that you’re going in – they’re the inspiration and the influence behind so many other parts of your brand.
It’s the way that they feed in to everything else.
When you’re working on the additional parts of your brand strategy after your values, often you need your values before you can do the other pieces. Because it all just it all just fits together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. If you don’t have those values in place, then you’d have to go and work that out at that point.
If you can make your values one of the first pieces that you work on for your brand strategy they’re going to help you with everything else, and set you up really well
- when you’re thinking about what packages and programs and products you might offer
- when you’re thinking about content that you might create.
- when you are thinking about naming your products and packages and programs
It’s useful to know what your values are for pretty much everything that you put out there, everything that you do in your business – when you’re making decisions, when you’re hiring people, when you are working on all the other parts of your brand strategy, if you know your values, that’s going to make all of that so much easier.
This is also going enable you to be more consistent because you’ve got that focus on what your values are.
Two ways to work out your brand values.
The first way is to spend some time journaling about
- what matters to you
- who matters to you
- what you really care about
- what is really important in your business.
These are what your values are. They’re about the things that really matter. The things that are non-negotiable. The things that if somebody said to you today, you cannot do that. You would say NO because they represent your business. If it was taken away, you would feel like you lost something.
That’s what you’re trying to discover through this process which will help you come up with some words and phrases and sentences which describe the stuff that you care about. If this works for you to work out your values that’s brilliant – journal for as long as you need, and then in the next exercise, I want to talk about how to gather those ideas together.
You can come and join that part after you’ve finished journaling, to think about how you can collate what you’ve discovered into something that really makes sense for your brand. So it’s very much honing in on the stuff that is important,that you really care about, that you would want to be held accountable for in your business.
If that’s too difficult, because some people find that process hard or maybe you’re not be a writer – you could also do it by just speaking – then you could do something else. This is the most common exercise that I do with my clients if they’re not sure what their values are.
You’ve got a whole load of words. Click here to download a worksheet for this. There are loads of words on the worksheet. What you need to do is go through all of the words and decide which ones resonate with you. This is about looking for words that you believe in, things that you feel you’re already doing, things that you feel your business IS, words that feel right.
As you go through the list and you’re circling literally any word that seems good to you or you might look at a word and think “that word’s not quite right. I’m not going to use that word here, but I might consider a slightly different word” because the words in the list are not exhaustive. There are not a lot of words on that list.
I’ve given you a very pared down version of my values list. You can have different words. You can go look at a thesaurus and find a word that you really feel works better for you. If that is going to do the job. It might inspire you to think of a word that isn’t on the sheet and you’re like, “Oh, I want to have that word” – that’s great, add that word in.
It does not have to be words. It can be phrases because you might feel that you need extra words to describe that value. And that’s great because that’s making those values more personal and more unique, and you’re really spending some more time thinking really carefully about what they mean. So this is something that might take you a little bit of time, some people can do this quite quickly and it might be 10 minutes later they rattled it out and go”I like that. That’s it. I’m really happy.” I think you have to have a certain level of clarity before you start to get to that point. But if you don’t, then it might take you a little bit longer. So this is about thinking about things that you already are – we’re not looking into the future. This is what your values are now. Hopefully your values, in the future won’t be too much different. Values don’t change that often. They do change. They might tweak a little bit. You might change a word here or change a phrase ever so slightly of that. But generally speaking, they stay roughly the same for quite a long time because they’re something that is so integral to your business that they have longevity.
It’s about looking for things that you ARE – things that are real for you right now, but also things that you know you can do something with. So when you have these collections of words, you get to the end of this list of all these things that you’ve circled, go through it again. What I want you to do is get rid of anything that is super obvious.
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You don’t want to say you’re professional or authentic. You might want to say you’re those things, but those are very obvious words that I think most people’s expectations of you would be. So you want to take away the things that people are going to expect as a given when they think about your brand.
When they think, “Oh, I’m going to work with this person. I expect them to be a certain way”. You don’t want to give in to those expectations because that’s there already. People already have that set expectation of you based on the industry that you’re in. You want to create new expectations, something different that helps you stand out from other people who do the same thing.
As a Brand Explorer, I wouldn’t want to say, “I’m really creative” because you probably already assume I am creative. So it would be a bit of a wasted word, and I don’t want you to waste any words here. I want these phrases, these words, these values to really mean something and have impact and show how you are different compared to other people.
Anything that’s super obvious, get rid of that, then go through the list again and think about which ones you really feel stand out the most, which words are weaker, which words are the stronger.
Grouping your possible values (if you journaled, this is the next step!)
Pick out the best words/phrases and put them somewhere else so you can start to rearrange them. So if you did the journaling, you might have some words or phrases at this point that you have collected.
This is the point where you get those words and phrases and you stick them down in front of you and you have a look at what you have, regardless of which exercise you did. At this point, we’re looking to create 3 to 5 groups of words, 3 to 5 phrases that represent your brand values. So you are probably going to look at this and you’re going to think, “Oo, I’ve got this whole set of words that mean similar things” people often come up with friendly, approachable, kind – words that can be very similar in meaning. So it’s about really looking at those collections of words and saying, “Which ones of these do I want to use?” Or, are they relevant? Is there another set of words that is way better than this? You could ditch one. Maybe one word or collection of words is not as important.
This is a thinking exercise – working on your brand is not something where you can look at it and pick directly off a list like a menu. You do have to think because everything about working out your brand happens in your head and in your heart. It’s the things that you feel really connected with and the things that really help you to stand out.
Have a look at those collections of words and see how you can phrase those into 3 to 5 different sets of wording. And that can be you can have an individual word, you can have a couple of words, you can have a whole phrase, you can have a whole sentence. Do whatever you need to do.
Keep them simple
You can Google brand values for pretty much any of the larger businesses and you’ll find loads of examples if you need inspiration. There are some of them out there that will use whole paragraphs to describe a value. I am not a fan of that. I think it’s really important that your values are really easy for you to remember and anyone else who is working with you to remember. So if you do have a paragraph, you need to have some kind of overarching title that encompasses that so you’ve got something to hone in on. I think it’s really important to think of it from the perspective that you are going to have to remember what these values are for a while. They are not something where you’re going to just stuff them in a drawer and forget about them – these values are going to impact everything that you do in your business going forward.
They’ll be the thing that you come back to when you’re making a decision and you want to make sure that that decision aligns with your values. You want to make sure that your hire aligns with your values. You want to make sure that that thing that you want to do is in alignment with your values. It’s so crucial that those are at the heart, and centre of what you’re doing in your business, because they are what it’s all about.
They need to be memorable. If you’re getting rid of all of those words and phrases and ideas that are not unique, then you’re going to have unique values. So anything that is what people would expect, get rid of all of that. You’re going to have unique values because nobody else is you.
Nobody else is your business.
Nobody else is going to have the same collection of values to stick together, to emphasise what it is that matters in your business.
The other thing is that they need to be real. These are actual values for what you stand for. Now. They’re not some sort of pie in the sky let’s get there sometime thing. These are something that you care about. These are something that’s close to you. When you look at them, you resonate with them. Something that’s in your business. That you’re already doing. You’re already working with your values. You might think, what’s the point in doing this values exercise if I’m already using them?
Why bother working out your values?
The point is that you can refer to these values whenever you want – as can other people which is useful, but it also means you can do MORE with those values. You can look at those values and think “I’m already doing this”, but now you know these are VALUES – you can do more with them and make them something bigger.
Make them more obvious, more evident in your business so that people can see that that’s something that you’re standing for, which means that your values also have to be doable. They have to be something that people feel they can take action on, that you feel you can take action on – something that you feel you can expand and grow – that you can show to other people that that’s what matters to you.
Once you have this list of values, it just makes everything else so much easier because you can use this to influence your visuals and to influence the visibility in your business.
You use it to influence the decisions that you make, use it to help you create what you want to create in your business based on those values. That’s so important, they are absolutely the peg that you hang everything on as Rita Callender said, at a networking event several years ago – I thought that was brilliant. They are the peg that every single so every decision you make, everything you’re thinking about in your business, everything you put out there needs to tie in with your values so that you know that you are threading them through everything that you do and creating a really strong brand.
Once you’ve got your values, I would leave it for a little while. Hang on a couple of days and then come back to them and make sure they still feels really good, because it’s really important that these values feel really good to you and if you feel the wordings a bit off – maybe that value that you thought was really good on Tuesday is not quite so good by Friday – that’s a bit of work that you need to do. Go through the exercise again until you have nailed it and until you’re really happy with what you have.
Determining your values helps you to create a really strong brand and it’s about being consistent with those values. So not just forgetting about them one week, and going “I’m not interested in that this week. I think I’ll do this instead”. It’s about always, always utilising those values to make sure that your brand is really strong. Those values are really coming through. People are getting a really good idea of what it is that your business is all about because your brand is what other people have going on in their minds about your business, what they’re thinking about – not what you’re thinking about. If you use your values then you can help influence those thoughts by the stuff that you are putting out there, that other people are going to see, experience and feel.
If you use your values in a consistent way, then your brand in other peoples minds – is going to turn out to be closer to what your values are – the brand that you set out to create.
I would love to know what your values are if you could let me know if this exercise has been useful for you, that would be amazing. You can come into my group and share what you came up with.