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Core values: why they matter for your personal brand

brand architecture personalbrand Mar 01, 2021

Your core values lie at the heart of your personal brand. They can also act as part of your point of differentiation - something that sets you apart and that solidifies your perspective as uniquely your own. For example, one of my core values is “censorship is evil.” As many of you know, I was born during the Soviet regime, which is why censorship in any form is a non-starter for me.

After working with many entrepreneurs to uncover their personal brands, here are my 3 main takeaways on core values and why they matter for personal branding:


1. As Patrick Lencioni says: real values can cause pain.

This means that (a) they’re non-negotiable and (b) we uphold them even when they don’t serve us.

If you choose “family first” as your core value, it should then mean that nothing (no matter how exciting or once-in-a-lifetime of an opportunity) would ever take place of family plans or a family event.

When I say that censorship to me is evil, it means that it’s always the case. Being quite outspoken and active on social media, I occasionally attract negative comments. I’ve been called vain, a loser - you name it. And guess what? I never deleted a single comment and I never blocked a single person. As much as it stings to allow a comment like that to sit on my page for everyone to see, I can’t delete it. Why? Because censorship is evil.


2. Our personal core values are not always our company’s core values.

This often elicits feelings of resistance among my entrepreneur clients. Certainly the values of our companies are also our personal core values but the opposite is not always the case.

As I already mentioned, “censorship is evil” is a deep core value of mine. And yet it’s not a core value of my businesses. I don’t expect my staff to uphold it. Or my business partner. Or any of my suppliers. This is a core value of my personal brand but not one of my corporate brands.


3. Don’t play it safe.

Family, integrity, teamwork. Yes, these are all great and as good human beings we are all likely to uphold them. And yet the goal behind personal branding is to uncover that which makes it (you!) unique. You don’t have to come up with 5; even 1 would suffice as long as it makes a clear statement of who you are and what makes you different.


“Censorship is evil” is one of my (primary) core values - and it's uniquely mine: people expect to see me live, breathe & defend it daily - and now they associate it with me. It works - because it is authentic to me. Think about it: what core value is entirely & uniquely yours?



Marina Byezhanova is the co-founder of Brand of a Leader. She has given talks across the globe & has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, Inc., Success Magazine, Yahoo!, the Financial Post & more.

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