Moral excellence is one way to describe it. Living a virtuous life was (and is) one of the highest goals for the practicing Stoic. Not necessarily a goal on itself, but a way of living. Something that requires constant dedicated effort. Considering life’s setbacks and challenges as the perfect opportunities to develop and express a virtuous character is an interesting way to approach the subject of virtue in general. What we make out of life’s challenges is entirely up to us. Marcus Aurelius famously referred to it as ‘what stands in the way becomes the way’. An attitude of resilience that empowers us to turn adversity into opportunity.
So how can we relate this to business, with a focus on brand building? Here at Mirage we won’t start with any form of design whatsoever before we have addressed the strategy side of things first. We call it a brand-blueprint. A strategic foundation. Within this framework — the soul of a brand — we execute a variety of tactical exercises that altogether form a solid framework on which a meaningful brand can be properly built. One of these strategic exercises is entirely dedicated to defining the virtues of a brand. What are the morals, the deeply-rooted principles and ethics which the brand stands for, its moral code of conduct? This approach has a slightly different — more thorough and all encompassing — emphasis than for example the traditional, well known ‘core values’. There are a few vital questions we will have to ask ourselves. What is the moral compass of the brand? What virtues does the brand embrace and cultivate that will contribute to the flourishing of the brand and its direct environment, internally as well as externally? What is the unshakable core of the brand — its excellent qualities of character?
We don’t believe that brands (or people) should be put into ‘boxes’, so we tend to avoid the ‘archetypal’ approaches altogether. A brand is not something static, at all. It’s not black and white. Instead, we challenge our clients to think about how to establish a particular dynamic standard of ethics. A defined framework of how the brand shows its high moral standards, doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, at all costs. Building a virtuous brand requires deep thinking but above all; consistent behaviour. Regardless of the circumstances — which may be challenging — the essence of the virtuous character is to be able to turn obstacle into opportunity, and to steadfastly navigate with this moral compass, whether that’s in the direction of ethical conduct or valorous action.
“Character is fate.” – Heraclitus