Are kindness, fairness and a sense of justice important to you? Do they impact the way that you think, feel, and what you do?
If ‘Yes’, you are in the majority of humans around the world, and you might want to read on. If not, then that is perfectly fine too (that is me being kind, just and fair); please feel free to read on as you might find it interesting or not… no judgment.
First, Stop and Take A Moment…
Have you ever thought about why you are doing what you are doing? Why you get up in the morning? What is truly important to you? Why do you feel the way you do when you see something that annoys you? Conversely, what causes your moments of awe or contentment? Where is the root? What is the catalyst?
The things that make you act, think, and feel as you do are a consequence of your Human Values – the hidden forces that shape you profoundly. Interestingly, we all have access to the same set of Values and simply turn the volume up or down on each to create our own unique Values configuration. This process is dependent on the social-cultural conditions we find ourselves in over time, our natural disposition, and our up bringing. In other words, our Values are things of semi-permanence but ultimately they are what make us who we are – motivating and guiding us through life.
A Values-Led Life Is A Happy Life
At One Minute to Midnight, we have done a huge amount of work on Human Values across the world. Intriguingly, one thing that we have consistently found is that if we live our lives based on our unique Values, our well-being and contentment is increased four-fold than if we do not. Living life in accordance with your Values also increases the likelihood of being successful and content with other aspects of your life; from relationships to money management to simply making better decisions. In order to make sense of the vital yet complex area of Values, we use a psychosocial model that was developed globally with over 50,000 people. Our model has ten overarching Values, ranging from Power and Influence to Adventure and Stimulation to Tradition et al.
The World is Very Different, Yet two Values Bind All of Us
Globally, cultures and countries have different emphasis and nuance of expression of the various Values and some are much stronger in some places. We find that Americans over index on creativity and fun (on the whole) while those living in China tend to be focused on Power and Tradition. However, there are two values that come up time and time again across the world… In almost every market in the world, Benevolence (kindness) and Universalism (fairness/ justice/ equality) emerge in at least two-thirds of the populations’ as the most powerful driving life forces. In short, they play a deep role in how we all lead our lives.
Government and Brands Fail Us on A Values Level
Understanding our Values can and should be of a huge importance to everyone. Global businesses, brands and governments around the world seem to do very little – credibly or authentically – in terms of Values to enable humans to live out our drives for kindness and universalism. But let us leave the politics out of it (we’d be here all day) and talk brands…
We know that when people live life by their Values they feel happier and more content. Brands are a crucial part of the socio-cultural landscape and yet few, if any, really play with the spaces of benevolence and universalism successfully. Indeed if they try, many seem to misfire in this space totally. Pepsi anyone? But by understanding and teasing out these Values, we can make humans truly happy and improve their well-being. Why aren’t we doing more?
As Values are profoundly ingrained in us, they cannot be bought and stuck on. Values have to be lived and breathed by the brand across everything that it does. Humans want alignment. They want legitimacy. They want cognitive consonance. This is not a bit of applied corporate social responsibility. It must be the lifeblood of the brand, it must be consistent, and it must be true.
The Ultimate Corporate Social Responsibility
Whether we know it or not, our Values are really important to us. When we live them authentically we feel happier. If brands want to create empathic bridges with their audiences, if they want to build powerful human-brand relationships, Values need to be explored deeply, unpacked and given real meaning. They must be the rightful keystone of our thinking as marketers and brand guardians.
This needs care. It is important. It can make us happier by enabling us to live our most human life. This is the ultimate in corporate responsibility. But if it feels in any way inauthentic it will backfire with serious consequences for the brand.
Brands can be a force for good in the world. They just need to wise up, enable people to be happier and increase their well being by exploring and living, breathing the most human and humane values authentically, those of Benevolence and Universalism for a kinder, just and fairer world.