How to Define Your Brand Values

This is the second article in the Journey to Brand Clarity Series. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be explaining each part of the Brand Discovery process in full detail. If you’ve been wanting to get serious about defining your brand, you’ll definitely want to follow along. Each installment will come with action steps you can work on during the week and you can count on a handful of worksheets along the way too.


Missed the first installment? Click this link to get caught up. 


In life, values guide us in every interaction we have, every decision we make, and how we set our priorities. They are the beliefs you hold most dearly and they make up a big part of what defines you as a person. Your business values are no different. They clarify what your business stands for and set its tone and direction. They are the foundation for everything you do – how you treat your clients, what you expect of your employees, how you promote yourself, and how you brand your business. Being in tune with your core business values gives you a strong starting point for all your decision-making and keeps your business in balance.


Defining your values is probably the hardest part of finding brand clarity, though. I used to just bluntly ask my clients what values they built their businesses on. The question always stumped them and our easy conversation suddenly got paused by a very long and nervous silence. It’s hard to come up with a good answer when you’re on the spot like that! The question is daunting.You believe in a lot of things, how do you even begin to narrow in on the ones that define your business?


Start by going back to last week’s exercise and revisiting your story. Pay attention to your turning points. What were the catalysts that led you to make a change? The yoga instructor from last week’s example has three turning points. First, she becomes a mom, which unfortunately eventually leads her to feel frazzled and stressed. Then, she discovers yoga, which helps her find peace and balance again. Last, she starts a business to help other women like herself. Isolate your own turning points and try to identify the motivation behind each one.



Next, take a look at what motivates you today. Running a business is a lot of hard work and long hours. It takes a lot of sacrifice and might even mean redefining your personal goals and values. Being a business owner means it’s often more difficult to make time for your family and friends. So what keeps you going even during those moments when you consider going back to a stable 9 to 5?


Last, think about what you’re trying to help your clients accomplish. What are you empowering them to do or experience? What should working with you be like for them? What makes you feel proud of them? How do they inspire you?


Write all of these down as a list of words and phrases and then transfer them onto sticky notes. Find a good clear space where you can spread them out and play with them. Then, see if you can group any of them together into categories. You might have expressed the same thing in different ways or have words that are really closely related to each other.


Now that you have an organized list, it should be easier to point out which values are the most important to your business. Pay close attention to the largest categories and the words that you have several synonyms for. The fact that you repeated these values means they’re important. Let this help you decide on what order to put your categories in.


Once you have everything organize and in order, you can choose a word or phrase that summarizes each category. And voila! You have a first draft of your business values!


Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to go back and revisit your list before we’re through the Journey to Brand Clarity Series and at other key points along your path. You and your business will grow, and your values will evolve with you. There’s nothing wrong with tweaking or fully revising them as you get a clearer understanding of your brand.


Your action steps for the week:

  1. Write down turning points and motivations in your story
  2. Make a list of the things that motivate you today
  3. Write down what you want your clients to accomplish and experience and how they inspire you
  4. Group, organize, and summarize


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