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Make it personal by valuing your valuesMake it personal by valuing your values
January 20, 2022

Make it personal by valuing your values

Hello 👋

If we haven’t spoken yet, I hope you’re having a GREAT start to 2022.

Jonny and I spent the last few weeks digging into our thinking behind personal values and the important role they play in building a really successful brand.

We dug deep (really deep) into who we are as individuals, what we value most and how those personal values become brand values.

"Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave 'em all over everything you do." — Elvis Presley

So this week, we’re going to help you figure out your own brand values and show you how great brands actually use them instead of putting them into a fancy brand deck that never sees the light of day.

We all have our values.

They’re there to guide our decisions and behaviour. They’re also the things we won’t compromise on.

In building a strong brand, values are the source of distinctiveness and must be maintained at all costs. That means no compromising in exchange for short-term financial gain.

Great brands know their values, commit to them and use them to guide the choices they make. They never compromise. And that applies to everything from the language they use in Facebook ads to the way they treat their suppliers.

Values are often polarising – that’s a good thing.

This tweet is a great example. Some people say ‘ship fast and learn as you go’, others will say don’t put it out there until it’s perfect. Neither is right - it depends which is right for you and your audience.

However, a common problem with brand values is they’re often too generic and therefore meaningless. And bland values are as worthless as no values at all.

So, how do you define a set of values for your brand that are unique to you and your team can actually use?

The secret...

You start with you.

The key to implementing your brand values is leading by example and the easiest way to do that is to be yourself.

The practical

Research confirms when we hold a clear set of core values, we:

  1. find it easier to make big life decisions around pursuing passions, long-term career goals, and relationships.
  2. are less likely to engage in destructive thought patterns, especially in difficult life situations.
  3. tolerate physical pain more easily.
  4. have greater self-discipline and focus when studying or working.
  5. hold stronger social connections.

You’ll know by now that we firmly believe in building your brand as an extension of yourself. So when it comes to figuring out your brand values we suggest starting with your own personal values.

There are four steps to this process:

1. Get your initial ideas written down as a starting point

Ask yourself these questions as prompts - but don’t evaluate any of your answers just yet, the goal is quantity not quality at this stage!

  1. When do I feel most happy?
  2. When I’ve had success in life, what guided the decisions that got me there?
  3. What do I value about the people around me?

2. Group, prioritise and label

Next, group them into common themes and remove any that are too similar.

Begin to prioritise them too - you want to end up with just three.

Also at this point, you’ll need to ensure you have ‘value-type’ words. Here’s a basic list of examples to help.

3. Make them more unique and meaningful

The goal here is to create a set of values that are more specific to you. Everyone says ‘Ethical’ or ‘Sustainable’ these days - but throwing that down as a value is totally bland and doesn’t really give your brand any direction.

So what is your interpretation of each of these values?

You also need to accept the fact you won’t be able to completely embody a broad value like ‘ethical’. And it’s far stronger to adopt one angle of being ‘ethical’ and do it well - especially at the beginning of your journey.

So for example, ‘ethical’ isn’t specific or particularly useful. But ‘treating people fairly’ is - that gives us clearer direction for taking action.

So for each of the values you’ve defined, ask yourself ‘what does this specifically mean to me, what is my personal interpretation of it?

4. Wrap them up into your Brand Values

Our approach is simple - adopt your personal values as your brand values. This means your brand is rooted in how you think, feel and want to act.

BUT! We need a set of values that could be used publicly too - shared with customers, investors etc.

So ensure your answers from Step 3 are:

  • concise! 1-4 words
  • in plain English. If they can’t be understood, they can’t be used.
  • easy to implement in everything you do from the beginning. If they’re complex, you won’t be able to achieve them, so there’s no point having them! Be ambitious of course, but your values must be practical.
  • specific. Again, make a check here. Do they sound wishy-washy or open for interpretation? If so - back to step 3.


Solid brand values can do great things for your brand. But brand values that stem from your personal values can do amazing things.

Here are a few things I stumbled across this week that I'd recommend digging into, some guidance and some inspiration, all valuable.

  1. Write a list of your values and everything else will follow [Forge]
  2. Make your values mean something [HBR]
  3. 80% of your culture is your founder
  4. A founders' values and principles define the company's culture [Adam Stacoviak]

A true story

Tom Kay’s commitment to sustainability and ethical values made Finisterre the brand it is today:

Your unique set of values is what makes you you, and you are what makes your brand unique – and memorable.

The more you can lean into who you are and build a brand that is a true extension of yourself, the more magnetic your brand will be to others.

If you’ve found the above helpful, please do reply to this email. Or if you haven’t, feedback is always appreciated.

I’ll leave you with a quote I came across this week:

“A brand is always answering two questions. The first one internally facing: What do we believe? The second, externally: How do we behave? You must remain authentic to yourself, your core values, and what you stand for. If you’re not, people will sniff you out. But your brand must maintain cultural congruence — remaining relevant to the times, always evolving to inspire people at large. The answers to these two curiosities must always be aligned.” — Brian Collins



Keep being an outlier 💪

J + K