Values-driven branding: To be, or not to be

Of course, we’d all want to ensure that the values we hold and express through our brand are all positive. But are they? Let’s take a closer look.

Who are you, anyway?

Like it or not, as entrepreneurs, our brand is us; they are one in the same. Oh sure, not all your values of your personal brand are expressed in your business brand. But many are, especially the core ones.

To illustrate, I’ll share some personal examples.

For me, one of these core values is creativity. Creativity, because I discovered many years ago that the jobs that made me the most unhappy were the ones that had no outlet for my creativity. I can vividly remember, my first job after leaving college was as a mortgage interviewer at TRW Credit Data. All day long, I would ask mortgage applicants questions about their residence, job and credit histories, dutifully filling out form after form. Desperately driven to create, I soon found myself furtively jotting down lines of poetry on scraps of paper in between calls.

Does that sound like you? Is there a value you hold that, without it, you’re suffocating?

Another value that is rooted even more deeply within my core is integrity. For me, as a Christ-follower, this value reflects who I am in Christ. If I was forced to choose between consistently exercising my creativity and consistently demonstrating my integrity, integrity wins, hands down. That’s because not only is it a part of my deeply held faith but also does it reflect upon others who also see themselves as Christ followers. In addition, it is a value that fundamentally affects others with whom I’m in relationship. Demonstrating integrity has a huge ripple effect. In my view, it is one of those values that’s a “deal breaker”; I can’t do without.

Do you have a value that’s similarly a “deal breaker” for you?

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”

Like in the comic strip “Pogo”, the real enemy to our exercising, reflecting, demonstrating our values is ourselves.

The good things we want to do we often don’t; the bad we don’t want to do, we do. Like Winston Churchill’s characterization of Russia, we are a “. . . riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.

That’s what makes human beings so fascinating.

Inevitably, we will face the inevitable

When (not “if”) you fail to live up to your values, especially your deepest ones, in your business, what’s to be done? We certainly can’t escape being human.

This is true. We are who we are. So we must take a different tact; we must forgive. Forgive ourselves when we fall, and get right back up there, making amends as necessary. And most certainly forgiving others, because we each have been (and will be) there.

That’s giving grace, a human elixir that is most effective when showered generously upon others.

So today when you fail to live up to your brand promises, forgive yourself. Ask forgiveness from others and make amends if necessary. And when others fail, forgive liberally and give grace generously. (And, if you’re so inclined, asking for a little divine intervention isn’t a bad idea, either.) 

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