Is Integrity Really Important to Your Brand?

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A quick search on LinkedIn reveals that “integrity” is mostly associated with product launches or cancelations and job changes. There are a few posts that reference an organization’s core values. A quick search engine search reveals the definition, of course, and a series of self-help articles about how to identify someone ‘with’ it. So apparently integrity is a thing that you can acquire. Hmmm…

According to HubSpot and Ferguson Values, integrity tops the list of common core values. Yup. It’s true. An analysis of Fortune 500 companies reveals a common set of values. While each company might choose a different label, they all ultimately fit into 17 categories.

That would suggest that integrity is important. You’re probably reading this going “DUH. Of course, it is!” And I agree it is. But have you noticed that integrity seems to have many different interpretations?

Integrity is often perceived or interpreted as a verb that is externally focused—think customer service and doing what you say you’re going to do. While this is a good perception for the market to have of your company, interpreting integrity this way, is not in alignment with what the word actually means.

Integrity is in fact a noun and is internally focused. It actually means “the state of being whole or the state of being one”. How does that change your perception of companies that use the word “integrity”? How does that shift your perception of people who have it? How does that change your perception of yourself?

I too thought I knew what integrity was—the external focus definition. It was when I read, “The Way of Integrity” by Marth Beck that I finally had the ah-ha moment of realization that I was wrong.

When companies go through a rebranding initiative, they usually end up crafting or updating statements like mission and vision, as well as identifying core values. In many companies, these statements live in a document, on their website, or end up mounted on the wall and are then forgotten. This turns your set of values into a set of beliefs.

Integrity means you don’t let this happen. It means that you live and breathe your mission, vision, and values. It means you build those into the operations, the products and services that you offer, and the customer experience.

A value is something of worth or usefulness. While personality is a collection of qualities—physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and social characteristics. A value should guide your thought process and decision-making. While personality helps your brand be relatable to your market.

It’s not one or the other, it both. Core values and brand personality serve different functions and produce different results.