One of the first critical pieces when building a business is to construct your brand's identity. This starts with defining your overall mission, your objectives along the way, and what that means for your clients. Together, those comprise the WHAT of building a brand--but you'll want to define the HOW as well. Your brand values will guide this.
By standing for something more than just yourself and what you do for your clients and customers, you can build something bigger than just you, and deliver real connection, impact, and transformation.
Which, incidentally, happens to be sooo attractive to other perfectly-aligned potential clients and customers.
So how do you create a brand like that, and attract those dream people? How do you know what your brand values actually are?
Ask yourself the following questions, and see what comes up for you.
So for example, I'm a brand and web designer, and I'm well aware that there are thousands of web designers out there. But I don't want to work with certain kinds of clients: the ones who want something quick at the expense of style and impact, the ones who don't want to do the work to uncover the hidden treasures within their brand's identity, the ones who aren't creative at heart and totally passionate about their work and their overall mission.
I want to work with creative entrepreneurs who lean spiritual, who are pretty self-aware and aren't intimidated by looking inward, who have felt stifled by the "standard" ways of doing business and are looking to streamline and simplify in ways that feel really good for them.
Those are the kinds of people who will get the most of our work together, because my process is meant to be collaborative, and I have learned that my own energy can't sustain someone else's operation. There needs to be contribution and energy input from both sides, in order for our work together to be as creative and rewarding as I want it to be.
If in doubt, I'll give you a hint: you're in the perfect position to help others who struggle with something you've once faced yourself. So you can start there, and ask yourself, what have you overcome, and what kinds of things did you struggle with when you were in the midst of it?
The people who are ready to receive the full value of your work, and the things they're really seeking when they come to you, are the first important clue to figuring out your brand values.
Think differentiation. What is your edge over the competition?
This complements the first question nicely. The first question asks who is involved, and what they're really looking for, so you can make sure that's represented in your brand values. This question asks, what do you do that sets you apart from others who appear to offer similar work?
So, using my own example from above, I would say that my process goes deeper than the average designer's process, and that's why the best results will come from clients who are ready to go deep with me. I'm an energy-sensitive myself, so vibes and intuition are always key in working with people, and in branding in general. I would never try to push a strategy that wasn't going to work for the client as an individual person with their own strengths, fears, and preferences. And I definitely believe in bringing creativity and style to all things.
This sets me apart from designers who: focus on surface-level stuff, push one-size-fits-all strategies, think that visuals are all that matter, or don't think visuals matter at all.
You want to be sure to highlight those differences in your marketing. They're likely also important enough to you that your brand doesn't really exist without them. So definitely include those ideas in your brand values.
This will provide some insight on why this work is important to you, and the real long-term impact you may hope to have. What are the biggest goals you could ever hope for, with the work you do?
Example: I work with clients on their brand and web strategies in the short-term. Really, though, I want to see every business owner empowered to ignite the fire within their own soul brand, to follow their intuition and honor what feels amazing for them, and to view business as another arena of life in which they can play, explore, and take creative chances. (It's all supposed to be a fun game of discovery! Let's stop taking it all so seriously.)
These bigger-vision ideals offer another take on your brand values, and what your brand actually stands for, beyond just your products or services.
It's important to think bigger than just what you offer in the here and now!
List a few brands (or entrepreneurs) you can't get enough of. What is it about them that gives you that "YESSSSS" feeling?
Chances are, you're drawn to those things in them because they're qualities you're really seeking to embody yourself.
And if those qualities are important to you on your journey, there's a strong chance they'll also resonate with the people you're best suited to serve.
I'd love to hear what you come up with! What are your brand's values?