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Personal branding for career success
Personal branding for career success

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2 Values, vision and personality

In a corporate context, company values describe what your organisation stands for. Typically, they are kept to a maximum of four or five and are usually communicated through actions and words.

Core values is written in chalk in the centre of a board.
Figure 2 Core values

Research by communications consultancy Maitland (Marinker, 2015), looked at the stated core values of FTSE 100 companies. Here’s the top 10:

  1. Integrity
  2. Respect
  3. Innovation
  4. Safety
  5. Transparency
  6. Excellence
  7. Team work
  8. Honesty
  9. Trust
  10. Responsibility.

The Maitland report draws attention to the fact that ‘so many of the more commonly expressed values relate to behaviour traits rather than strategic or operational characteristics’ (Marinker, 2015, p.4). It also suggests that ‘Most people will consider these to be universally desirable behaviours rather than distinctive and informative glimpses into corporate culture’ (Marinker, 2015, p.8).

When considering your own personal values, bear in mind the comments made here. For example, you might want to ensure a mix of behavioural and operational characteristics within your brand. Employers will certainly value integrity and respect, but they also want to know about the more operationally useful skills you have, such as problem solving or strategic thinking.

The point about universally desirable behaviours is also very relevant. If your personal brand is the same as everyone else’s, how will you distinguish yourself from the crowd?

It could be said that there are various companies that don’t demonstrate the values they claim to stand for! This is something else to consider in a personal context. If you choose to present yourself in a certain way, you need to ensure that you can live up to that image.

Activity 2 Brand values

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Think of a brand you admire and try to identify its values. Most companies will list their values somewhere on their website.

For example, you might choose:

Microsoft’s values of (Microsoft, 2018):

  • innovation
  • diversity and inclusion
  • corporate social responsibility
  • philanthropies
  • environment
  • trustworthy computing

or the Coca Cola Company’s values of (The Coca Cola Company 2018):

  • leadership
  • collaboration
  • integrity
  • accountability
  • passion
  • diversity
  • quality.

In the box below, write a short paragraph or a bullet pointed list of the ways in which you think your chosen brand demonstrates or communicates its values in what it does or says.

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Your chosen brand might communicate its values in the quality of its products, its approach to sustainability, its commitment to innovation, etc.

The Design Council guide (Design Council, n.d.) explains why communicating values can be difficult:

‘It’s not easy to communicate values: overt marketing may seem disingenuous, while not communicating your values in any way may result in people not seeing what you stand for. […] Any values you portray have to be genuine and upheld in the way your organisation operates.’

Companies also need to find the right methods to communicate their values, for example, ‘through graphic design, language, advertising, staff training, the materials used in product manufacture and so on’.

When a company’s brand values are clearly communicated, they attract people who share those values and who will become core customers. They may even become brand advocates, sharing the brand with others and encouraging them to find out more about it.

You can see how this transfers to a personal branding context. Attracting the attention of like-minded colleagues, peers, etc., will ensure that your reputation spreads in the right way. You’ll look in more detail at the tools you might use to share your values, e.g. a CV or a social media post, later in the course.