Creating a personal brand as a journey of self-discovery: Core Values

Throughout my years as a Graphic Designer, I’ve found that one of the most of the most important steps in the process of creating a personal brand, is the identification of one’s Core Values.

Whenever we create a brand, it is common to want to jump ahead straight into the logo design phase without much thought into the underlying motives for why we’re creating such brand in the first place.

By skipping this crucial step, our brand (and ourselves, as individuals!)  will miss the basic foundations that would help us make sure that all future elements forming our brand, from the graphics to the offerings we create, will work in harmony with who we are, what we want to represent and how we want to show up in the world.

Designing a brand is more than working on its superficial elements. It is an invitation to dig deeper into ourselves, to take a stance from which we’ll expand outwards into the world, and to set the rules of engagement with which we’ll face the journey ahead of us.

Why is it important to define our Core Values?

Whether we are conscious about it or not, we all have internalized values that dictate our actions.

Most of these values have been acquired through our early life experiences. The family we grew up with, the society that surrounded us, the time and place we were born into, etc.

The issue with this is that, by not taking a hold of the values we’re acting upon, we’re allowing external factors to control us and act in ways that are not necessarily aligned with our personal vision.

From spending most of our time living according to somebody else’s standards, to failing to achieve what we truly want to do with our life, to many more unforeseen consequences, failing to define our Core Values can lead to serious internal and external conflicts.

All the expressions of our life are nothing but the expression of the values we have assimilated. Everything we do is the result of that which is valuable to us.

In short, by consciously identifying what our Core Values are, it’ll be easier for us to make sure that every action we take and every situation we get into is in alignment with who we are as a person.

How to identify our Core Values?

To make things easier for you, I created a free Notion template that you can use to follow these steps and generate your own personalized list of Core Values. Download it here.

There are multiple ways in which we can identify our Core Values but a simple method I have found for myself is this:

  1. From a list of values, select 10-20 values that resonate with you as you read through the list.
  2. Once you have a shortlist of values, define why are these values important to you.
  3. Finally compare your shortlist of values and their definitions, then select the 4-6 Core Values that most align with you.

An important thing to note is that within each one of your Core Values, there can be other values that help you build them up. For example, ‘Integrity’ is one of my Core Values, which I have define as:

“To live with integrity means to be authentic, honest about who I am, confident in my decisions, and to act in accordance with my values.”

As you can see, within my Core Value of ‘Integrity’, I can also find ‘Authenticity’, ‘Honesty’ and ‘Confidence’.

What to do with your Core Values?

Once you have figured out what your Core Values are, the most important thing you can do next is to actually start living in accordance to them.

This might prove to be harder than expected at the beginning, specially if you are in the process of adopting new Core Values that you haven’t yet internalized.

At this point, it would be useful for you to regularly take notice of your actions and the situations you find yourself in. Are your values being fulfilled by them? If not, what changes can you make?

It is totally fine to realize that you’re not meeting your values, specially if you’re just starting. The key point is to become aware of where you are and adjust progressively.

Another thing to notice is that your values can change with time, since you are also in a constant state of change. It’s good practice to review them regularly and update them if necessary.

Remember: identifying your Core Values is not about locking yourself into a box. It is a tool to know yourself better at any given moment in your life.

Optionally, if you used my Notion template for this exercise, you can integrate your Core Values into any other pages that you use for organizing and planning. That way you’ll always have easy access to them.

This is the first in a series of articles exploring the process of creating a personal brand as a journey of self-discovery. If you’d like to be updated whenever the next articles come up, subscribe to my newsletter.

More in this series:
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