Values are neither right, nor wrong.
We all move through life and make decisions every day based on our values. Do you eat the chocolate or go to the gym? Any judgement entering your mind with this question is your brain quickly assessing your beliefs, your values, and snapping to which one is the ‘correct’ decision. (I’m letting you off the hook here, fellow chocolate lovers! 😁)
That was a pretty simple example, so how do personal values apply to your brand and your business?
While the vision for your business is the ultimate goal, values determine how you get there.
- What practices do you have in place to achieve your vision (or goal)?
- How do you interact with clients?
- Are you collaborative or competitive with other entrepreneurs?
- Transparent or secretive?
How you operate your business is determined by your personal —and business— values. These ultimately inform your brand, and establish a connection with likeminded people.
To think about this in ‘real world’ terms:
Ikea is a pretty famous and successful company. Their values are: Caring for People and Planet. Lead by Example. Different with a Meaning. Togetherness. Cost-consciousness. Renew and Improve. Give and Take Responsibly. Simplicity.
It is not hard to see how Ikea applies these values across their brand, including the environment of their stores and the experience of shopping online. People that are motivated by simplicity, caring for the planet, are on a budget and like to stand out from the crowd flock to these stores, worldwide. Ikea connects with their customer on a very basic level—personal values.
In creating your brand, it is necessary to connect with your personal values, and see which are the most important to you, and the most appropriate for your business.
Grab a pencil and paper, let’s do an exercise.
- Brainstorm. List out at least 20 values that you live by that come into your head. (They might include honesty, health, family, money, fun, creativity, environment, chocolate 😊 …. keep going!)
- Group. Now that you have your value list, go through that list and group the ones that are related into 7 groups. (For example honesty and integrity are sort of the same thing.)
- Find the Keystones. Look at each group. What is the one word or phrase that can encompass all the values within that group? (For example a group with the values Honesty, Integrity, Openness, Trustworthy can become “Authenticity”.)— These seven groups are your Keystone Values. They are the main personal values you operate from on a daily basis.
- Create Value Statements. Think about how those Keystone Values will determine how you operate your business. (Authenticity — Authentic and Open Communication )
The fancy wording for your official Value Statements can come later. The key here is narrowing down how you will set your sails for your vision, and your goals. They will serve as a check point for you—and for anyone that may work for you—to ensure your business and your Visual Identity (or brand) remains aligned with your Keystone Values.
This is not to say that your Keystone Values will NEVER change… just like with anything in life, your business will evolve. You may be in business for several years and find you’ve outgrown some of the values you established at the beginning. This is the point when things begin to feel uncomfortable with your current brand, and it doesn’t feel authentic to you any longer.
This is a problem, as every time you sit down to work, your brand sits next to you. If that relationship is strained—you will find yourself struggling with what to say and how to say it. The colors and imaging will nag at you… and the feeling of dread comes over you when creating anything that displays your mis-aligned brand.
Sound familiar? Begin with the value exercise and assess if your brand is on target. If it is, great! Keep going! If it isn’t, it may be time for a rebrand.
Are you ready to step into a more authentic, value-driven brand?
ref: “Ikea, Culture and Values” Ikea.com, 2021. https://about.ikea.com/en/about-us/ikea-culture-and-values www.ikea.com 2021, https://about.ikea.com/en/about-us