The Core of Your Brand: Creating a Values-Driven Business
“Don’t try to be somebody you’re not because it doesn’t work. If you try to be this perfect person or perfect persona of what you think that somebody should be … it’s just not going to work. Just be yourself and stay true to your core values” Ben Quayle
What are Core Values?
Core Values are what define us as individuals; they are what influence our attitudes and they definitely determine our behaviours.
In a business the Core Values are those criteria that form the foundation on which the organisation is built. They are the key to a well-defined brand.
They originate from the business owner as a person and, as the organisation develops and grows, they influence the standard and level of service as well as how individuals within that organisation conduct themselves.
The 4Vs Principle©
As a Business Mentor I work with business people at all levels – from start-ups to the already-successful – helping then to develop brand-led, values-driven businesses using my method for growth, The 4Vs Principle©. The 4 Vs are:
- Values – who you are, what you believe, what you want and your route to achieving your goals
- Visuals – your visual impact and the visual impact of your company
- Vocals – what you say, how you say it and who you say it to
- Verbals – building your reputation and brand through the written word; whether it’s the copy on a website, a leaflet, a blog, articles, social media etc.
Of the 4, the ‘V’ for Values is always the starting point because it is the most important.
Your Core Values underpin everything from the colours you use in your brand to the words you use on your website; where, when and how you network to the content of the messages you send out via Twitter.
Without the first ‘V’ – Values – you can’t effectively develop the visual, vocal or verbal aspects of your business.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi
So, how do you identify your Core Values?
I get my clients to do The 5 Words Exercise. Here it is. Why not give it a go; you may find it helpful.
The 5 Words Exercise
Step 1: Take a blank sheet of A4 paper and brainstorm all the words and phrases you feel best describe you and your values; you may come up with standard things such as honest, trustworthy, confident, ethical etc etc. But think wider than that ; include things like fun-loving, quirky, bubbly, organised, attention to detail. Totally fill the sheet. This may take you a few days. Don’t rush it.
Step 2: Once you have all the words or phrases you can think of start to go through the list and look for themes, for example, honest and trustworthy are quite similar in meaning, if you had to choose one of them which would it be. Identify all the synonyms and choose one.
Step 3: Continue to hone and define the list until you are left with 5 words or phrases that you are sure describe who you are.
Step 4: The next thing you have to do is ask at least 10 people (preferably more) to give you 5 words or phrases that they would use to describe you. It’s important that you ask a whole variety of people – friends, relatives, customers, business colleagues, your ex-boss, someone you manage – as this will give you more of a 360O look at yourself
Step 5: Once you have your words and their words start to look for patterns; words that are the same / similar. What you are doing here is ensuring that what you think of yourself and your exhibited attitudes and behaviours match. In the end it’s what we do (behaviours) that identify the real ‘us’ rather than our perceived versions of ourselves.
Step 6: At the end of this exercise you will have 5 words that describe you – your Core Values.
When you do this exercise it is often useful to include in your set of 5 a word or a phrase that is something you aspire to be. For example, many of the women I work with tell me that they are not confident. So, when they do this exercise we ‘reserve’ one place in their selection for the word Confident. When they review this process (after 12 to 18 months) it’s interesting to see how they no longer need that word there as they have taken on that characteristic and it is firmly established as part of who they are.
The Value of a Values-Driven Business
The primary business benefit of Core Values is clarity. For you they really help in the business development and decision making process; “if I do this thing will it compromise or contribute to my values?” For your customers and potential customers values clarify the identity and culture of your business so they can decide if it is the kind of organisation they want to ‘buy into’.
“The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.” Albert Einstein
So why is it important to understand the impact of Core Values on your business? Simple. In the end your Core Values can really impact on your bottom line.