The language of values
One of the things we work on with clients during a brandraising process is developing organizational values. The first step in that undertaking is largely strategic: talking with key stakeholders about what they see as their organization’s defining values, etc. And once we’ve honed in on the ideas we want to articulate, it’s time for the writers to start crafting language to describe those values.
Since developing values and the expression of those values can be a tricky process, we thought it would be helpful to lift back the curtain a bit. Here are three things we’d recommend you keep in mind while crafting your own values language (we used these ideas to guide our own recent re-evaluation of Big Duck’s values and the language we use to express those values):
Let your values drive the language. The language in Big Duck’s own values is a lot more direct than it used to be. That’s because directness is one of our values. If one of your values is about being caring, you might consider language that tugs at the heartstrings. If you’re about being powerful, maybe you’ll try language that inspires action.
Be sincere. Whether defining your values or crafting the expression of them, authenticity is key. Maybe you’d love to be associated with taking risks, but if your work is done democratically or carefully, risk-taking probably won’t ring true as a value.
Use language that speaks to both internal and external audiences. Values can be an important tool for hiring and staff reviews. They can also help determine what partners and collaborations you might be a part of. The language should speak to those disparate audiences.
Your values communicate what you’re all about. They motivate and inspire. So expressing them in appropriate and sincere language that appeals to all of your audiences across the organization creates the opportunity to make those relationships stronger.