When you’re starting out developing your personal brand for your online business, it’s so easy to be pulled in a million directions and overwhelmed by all the decisions to be made.
However, when you take the time to build your personal brand and your online business goals around your values early on, it enables you to get your footing on a rock-solid foundation that feels truly authentic to you, and a lot less like copying what someone else out there is doing.
And, in case you already have a personal brand and you're wondering if it's too late to do this exercise, the answer is no! Even if you've already got some branding out there, it's never too late to try this exercise and keep refining how you come across to your ideal clients.
What kind of values are we talking about here? Isn't it obvious that we all want to provide things like “quality work” or “honesty”? Well, one would hope so! But beyond that, your core values might be vastly different from someone else’s, and the particular combination you choose will likely be entirely unique to you.
Your core values are an essential component of your personal brand because they’re part of what makes you (and what you offer) stand out from everyone else.
How Your Core Values Impact Your Business
4 things that get easier when your chosen values are at the heart of your decisions:
Effectively use the correct (and consistent) voice & tone for all your content, offerings, products, services, packages, events, etc
Better inform your marketing decisions: colors, font choices, images, copywriting, and selling style
Feel good (and dare I say excited?) about your image -- which will be easy to stick with because it comes from you
Facilitate your business growth and scaling decisions, giving you clarity of purpose and vision
Yes, it's true: in the long run, correctly identifying your values will help you grow in numerous ways. It will remove a lot of uncertainty from your business life.
Because when a new idea or opportunity comes along and you’re struggling to decide what to do, deciding the answer is easy: does it fit with your values, or not?
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No more grey area. It either aligns with your core values, or it doesn’t. Simple.
Running your decisions through the filter of your core values helps everyone, particularly those who struggle to take decisive action quickly and confidently.
So, will you give it a try? Let's do that next.
How to Determine Your Unique Personal Brand Values
Here's an exercise to help you figure out your core values:
The goal is simple: determine your top 3 values from the provided list.
Start by printing out your free worksheet
Read through the worksheet once, circling about 10 values or concepts as you go, looking for the ones that really resonate with you.
Then, of those 10, narrow them down to 5.
Finally, pull your 3 favorites. That's it!
Note: For some, this exercise will feel easy. For others, it's super difficult!
If this task seems impossible, I've got you! I will share more helpful tips in just a moment.
Do's and Don'ts of Choosing your Core Values for Your Business:
Remember, really tune in and trust your gut on this exercise. Try to do this without many other distractions going on.
Take your time! It may take some time for this to gel within you, especially if you’re just starting out with your business or you've never done this sort of thing. Your favorites -- the ones that “just feel right” -- might not become apparent right away. Just sleep on it and come back to it tomorrow.
A close friend or supportive partner can be a wonderful sounding board for this exercise.
There's only one "Don't"!
Do not pick “the values you think you should have”! By their very nature, these values will be inauthentic to you and therefore impossible to work with in any meaningful or consistent way. If they don't come from you, you'll struggle to communicate your ideas trying to use a voice that is not your own. So, forget what others are doing out there! This is all about you :)
The personal brand that you’re building is an extension of yourself. It’s the professional version of you/the solutions you offer that you’re presenting outwardly. Creating a personal brand is not done by accident, but rather consciously and with intention.
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It may be helpful to think of your core values as a mix between how you genuinely see yourself, and how you wish to be perceived by others as you move your business forward.
Ready to get started? Grab your free printable worksheet below!
Tips On How to Select Your Personal Brand Values
You've printed out the free worksheet. You got started... and maybe you're thinking 99 is a heck of a lot of options!
If you circled dozens of words on your first pass and are feeling like you’ll never make it down to 10 (let alone 3), don’t despair! I have some extra bits of advice for you.
Go through your circled words again and pass them through these additional filters. I invite you to think on this exercise from a few different angles. Ask yourself:
Filter Question 1:
"Would it grab my ideal client's attention if this was said about me when I wasn’t in the room?"
In other words, would it serve to help convince my ideal client to hire me/utilize my services?
This reputation-managing question should eliminate a few values/concepts that 'sound nice'... but are not relevant enough to why or how you do what you do so well.
Then, pass your remaining selections through the next filter.
Filter Question 2:
"Which of these attributes/qualities/values do I genuinely aspire to be or live out each day?"
This question really brings you, the person, into your personal brand.
Your selection should now be quite a bit smaller and more specific. Still not there yet? Try this final filter:
Filter Question 3:
"How do I wish for my loved ones to see me? How do I want to be remembered?"
The legacy question. If you'd be pleased with these 3 things being said about you at your funeral, you're pretty much there my friend!
Go ahead and try this powerful exercise right now -- it should take you less than 30 minutes:
Running My Own Brand Through This Exercise
I only recommend self-reflective and brand-building exercises that I've tried myself, have found value in, and have helped my clients with. You don't have any time to waste, and neither do I! So yes, in case you're wondering, I've run my own personal brand through this exercise too!
I help female coaches, consultants, entrepreneur/solopreneurs, and creative visionaries build their online presence -- specifically with their personal brands, marketing plans, and website building.
Curious about which 10 values first jumped out at me?
I went with my gut and didn’t overthink it. The concepts I chose simply stuck out for me, and I just identified with them in a kind of matter-of-fact way.
By that I mean that it was either a "yup, that's totally me!" or a "that's nice, but not really me" reaction as I paused to consider each one, and then worked my way down through the filter questions.
My initial short-list of 10 core values was: bright, creative, empowering, exceptional, friendly, fun, heart-centered, inspiring, positive, and well-read.
My Company's 3 Core Values
My top three brand values are: creative, exceptional & empowering
When we talk about being creative, I mean in the sense of being a creative thinker, not in the often-used sense of being an artist. By drawing upon a wide range of experiences, disciplines, and schools of thought, I put things out into the world and solve problems in creative and meaningful ways. I connect the dots between ideas and see useful patterns in my own unique way. I think outside the box and come up with a fresh twist on things. These are key components of creative thinking!
I strive for exceptional results. I am completely unique and have a special set of gifts that I get to play with and help others with, which took me years to recognize and refine. I can see in my clients what they can hardly see themselves, put their ideas and other intangible concepts into words, and marry intuition with real-world strategy. I also hold myself/my work to a high standard ('just OK' doesn’t quite cut it for me!). I make my fair share of mistakes and I struggle with perfectionism as much as the next woman, but I do recognize and applaud good work when I see it, both in myself and in others!
And finally, my goal is to motivate others and live in a way that is self-empowering, not only because I have a daughter to raise, but I also have myself to continually raise. How can I model confidence for my daughter and other women if I’m not confident in myself? How can I show her and others not to play small and get walked all over if I continually allow that for myself?
My aim is to live a self-directed, self-approved life, and that takes daily commitment. It has taken me many, many years to stop being afraid of failing and of feeling embarrassed and to consistently, genuinely, choose to bet on myself. And that, my friend, is how I define empowering.
There you have it. These three values are very dear to me, and the standard I try to uphold consistently in the coaching work I do, the marketing messages I put out, the client experiences I create, and what I teach.
Let's do a quick review
Core Values are meant to act as guiding principles for your business, not as unforgiving rules.
By all means, they can be aspirational. As long as you are being authentically you and doing your best to uphold the core values you hold dear, you’re doing A-OK my friend, and I applaud you!
You can take action right now by carving out roughly 30 minutes to do the exercise above - simply download the sheet and follow the instructions (which are also noted on the sheet itself.) It will be well worth your time and will help you craft your messaging, your offers, and ultimately will help you make decisions that are right for the future of your business.
If you need a little one-on-one help with this, your messaging and/or website content, you are welcome to book some time directly with me:
I'd love to hear what your 3 values turn out to be - tag me @iamvallonergan on Instagram and let me know!
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