An Interpretation of Value

Our value system. The framework of values that we maintain to interpret our internal- and external world. It contributes to the way we process information and it influences our decision making, it partly dictates our actions, our behaviour. What is important to us, and what not? Our values play an important role in the way we live our lives. They determine our attitude and have impact on our state of mind. This value system is not only crucial to the wellbeing of ourselves as human beings, but also to that of our surrounding. 

Now let’s shift the perspective a little bit and focus on the value system of a company. The strategic benefit of defining a set of core values is significant and definitely contributes to the establishment of relevance and authenticity. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘value topic’ is addressed, by defining a set of core values which are for example being used to justify certain design decisions or the creation of a brand narrative. I believe that our approach needs to be more thorough and that we should bring the usage of the typical core values to another level. Therefore I’d like to emphasise more on the creation and implementation of a brand-value-system. How does the brand interpret its surrounding, its audience? How are importance and impact being measured?

This is the point where I’d like us to connect with Stoicism: a philosophy that is deeply engrained in the way we work at Mirage. We partly measure importance by emphasising on control. Let’s elaborate on that by going back in time. Epictetus was a former slave, born in 50 AD, who founded a school of philosophy after being released by his master. His school engaged in practicing and teaching Stoicism to students young and old. Epictetus became one of the most influential and inspiring philosophers, contributing significantly to the development of Stoicism. In the Handbook, Epictetus refers to control, by emphasising on things that are ‘up to us’ such as our opinions, judgments and desires — and things that are ‘not up to us’. Things beyond our control such as material possessions, our reputation and even our own bodies. This perspective focuses on the understanding that we don’t control all the things that happen in our lives. What we do control, is the way we respond to the things that happen: our interpretation and the value we attach to them. Epictetus said “The more we value things outside of our control, the less control we have”.

So is this all about control? Not specifically. It’s about establishing a rational and empowering value system based on influence and importance. Influence being determined whether something is within our control or not, so when we are defining a brand-value-system, we start by making a clear distinction between the things we (as a brand) do, and do not control. Based on the things within our control, we will start building a selection of values. These values will then form a system that can function as the blueprint of the attitude of your brand. The result is authentic value. Value with impact and awareness. Anticipation is an essential part of strategy and should therefore always be integrated into the core of your brand.