What do you think makes a business great, or a brand memorable? And how do you bring more YOU into your business? It’s more than just a killer logo or a fancy website. That stuff is just external fluff, like icing on a cake. And without the cake, the icing isn’t worth the sugar its made from.
What helps make that logo killer or that website fancy is the core of the business upon which they’re created; the self-awareness, understanding, intuition and opinions of its people and how they use those things to conduct their business and connect to their customers. It’s the stand they take on certain issues and the values that drive their decision making processes.
It’s more than just what they do. It’s who they are.
So how do you bring more you into your business?
Start by defining your values
In their simplest form, values are things you think are important. They’re a core set of principles that give meaning to your life and drive your actions and attitude. Understanding your values is essential to crafting a strong brand, whether personal or business. Your values are the heart of who you are, what you do, and ultimately, what your customers will see and feel when they interact with you.
When I started my business, I was asked to identify my values a lot. And every time I was like a deer in headlights. “What the fuck does that even mean?” I thought. But I knew that in order to succeed I’d have to figure it out. I’d have to have an opinion, understand what it is that I do differently, and clearly identify and communicate it.
Why did I create my business and how do I want to run it? What do I want people to experience when they work with me? Loaded questions, yes, but so, so important.
But rather than tackle them head on, which was scary as hell, I took an alternate route which I found to be much easier. I approached it from the back door and reverse engineered my values instead, something I highly recommend doing for anyone struggling to identify them for themselves.
Without thinking too long or hard, answer the following:
- What’s important to you?
- When were you happiest or most proud in your life?
- When do you feel most fulfilled, doing what kinds of activities?
Now let’s do that again, with a different set of questions.
- What really pisses you off?
- What are your biggest pet peeves?
- What beliefs do you have about the world that you think others should believe too?
Which set of questions did you find easier and faster to answer? My guess is it’s the latter.
This isn’t to say that I (nor you) are a Negative Nelly or pessimistic in any way. But many of us are conditioned to first see the bad, before we see the good.
Sometimes it’s easier to be judgmental, even if it’s only inwardly.
Let me give you some specifics so you know what I mean. My biggest pet peeve is tardiness. I’m super Type A, which I learned from my parents, both of whom are equally Type A, if not more so. Growing up, my dad had things done before he even finished talking about what he was gonna do. He was like Mr. Fucking Efficiency. So I grew up learning to be the same. I was on time, for everything. Which usually translated to being early, and still does.
So how does this translate into a value?
Simply put, I value time.
In today’s world, everyone is strapped for it. We are constantly connected technologically, bombarded with information non-stop. Multi-tasking has become do or die and we don’t really give anything our full, undivided attention for more than a few minutes, if at all.
Knowing that everyone has their own version of this—whether it’s starting a business, leveling up a business, or juggling kids and family; whatever it is, everyone’s time is important. Mine and yours, and I want to respect that.
Here’s another… I hate small talk. The weather? Look outside. What do you do? Ugh, again? How about we talk about something that really matters?!
Value translation: connection. Deep, meaningful, and personal. The kind where you feel privvy to someone’s secrets, to the things they don’t talk about in groups or at networking events. You share something that bonds you in a sort of sisterhood (or bromance).
I’m not interested in working with people in a quick, one-off sort of way. I want to build relationships and help people evolve over the course of time—both personally and professionally. Because if there’s one thing that’s for sure in this life, it’s change. And if you can bear witness to someone’s change, or better yet, be a part of it, that’s what life’s all about.
Need some help getting clear on your own brand values? Here’s my tips on how to reverse engineer them:
- Have your favorite note-taking method handy—always. If that’s traditional paper and pen, get a notebook small enough to put in your purse or pocket. Prefer a digital app? Evernote is killer for this sort of thing. You can even use the microphone to talk your thoughts out if you’re on the go!
- Go about your business. Live your daily life. You do you. But PAY ATTENTION. When something irks you, make note of it and scale it, with 1 being somewhat irritating but something you can live with, 10 being “HOLY FUCK IMMA KILL SOMEONE IF THIS HAPPENS AGAIN”. Or something like that.
- Make some quiet time and review your irks. Look for patterns and evaluate your scores. Anything above 7-8 likely stems from a core value. Give some thought around why those things make you ragey and how frequently they occur. Is it one of those beliefs that you think everyone should innately have? Ask yourself why. Then ask again.
Your turn now…
What are your core values? What path did you take to identify them? Where do you struggle with standing by them? Hit me up on Twitter and let’s discuss!