A Values Proposition

A brand's values both inform and reflect its mission.So, we’ve talked about what a brand is and we’ve talked about the first element of a brand: mission. The organization’s values are the next of the three foundational elements in a brand and, just as with people, values are “guiding principles.” These values are not often stated in an annual report or anything but they come up in other ways. For instance, you’ll see values both inform and reflect a mission.

Let’s make it a bit more concrete. Google is a great/terrible company that does wonderful/horrible things for us/them. No matter what you think about the company, however, it is arguably pretty successful. Unlike many other organizations, I was able to find both Google’s values and their concise (Yay!) mission.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

That is a nice mission. Now, look at the values. Do you see how some of them are implied and referenced in this short statement? Specifically:

  • Focus on the user. (universally accessible and useful)
  • Fast is better than slow. (organize the world’s information and make it . . . useful)
  • Democracy. (universally accessible)
  • You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer. (universally accessible)
  • There’s always more information. (organize the world’s information)
  • The need for information crosses all borders. (universally accessible)

Not all of the values are so directly implied in the mission but you can see how the values and the mission are, as I said, reflected and informed by each other.

Coming up with values for your organization starts by answering some of the “whys” of the organization’s existence. Why do we do what we do? Why is it important? Why do we not do this another cheaper/easier/faster way? Sometimes the values are based on a founder’s understandings. Sometimes they are looking at the way the organization hopes to change their customers, society, or even their world.

What are your organization’s values? Why do you do what you do in the way you do it? If you are having trouble answering that question, we would like to help you with that.

Next time: Vision.

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