Stand for Something, or Sit Down
by Jessica Korthuis, Co-Founder of Her Brand & Co.
These are the words of Alex Batdorf, founder of Get Sh!t Done — and her words have been permeating through my brain since the recent Supreme Court ruling on Roe. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spend my precious space in this guest post advocating for one viewpoint or another. However, it’s worth noting that the ruling has caused myself and my co-founder (as well as other businesses) to engage in many deep conversations about how (and if) we should respond in this incredible moment.
“I’m afraid to post anything because I’m afraid I’ll lose customers.”
“I’m afraid our partners will stop doing business with us if we take a stance.”
“I’m simply triggered and don’t know what to say — or how to say it.”
All of these statements have been shared with me over the last weeks, and if you fit into any of these categories, know that you're not alone.
Your brand values matter
So, how did we choose to show up in this astonishing moment? My co-founder and I took a hard, long look at our brand values, mission and vision statements.
Our vision statement at Her Brand & Co. is: “We envision a world where women are empowered to create wealth for themselves and their families through their entrepreneurial dreams and endeavors.”
Our mission statement is: “Our mission is simple — to provide practical and accessible marketing & branding education to give early-stage womenpreneurs the freedom and power to live their lives by their own rules.”
After we cried and rage-posted on our personal pages for a few days, we created a safe, internal space to lean into our company values to help us guide our strategy for a response. Once we created this space, it became evidently clear what felt true to us and for Her Brand & Co. (I also have great news for you — we didn’t lose customers — and many of our partners and customers thanked us for our response). You’re welcome to read our full response if you like.
Marketing attracts people to your universe, branding makes them stay
Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that your brand values matter. But why?
Because in a world where commoditized products and services are everywhere, your brand story matters.
Marketing is the act of pulling customers toward your offers through varied channels and strategies — these strategies are dynamic and should evolve over time as the business grows. Whereas on the other hand, your “brand platform” (which includes your mission, vision, and value statements), include the anchors of your brand’s core identity.
These are the values that keep you going when times get hard, and they’re the same values you employ when faced with the many perils that come with entrepreneurship. Your brand values are enduring, and they’re your key to differentiating your business from others in your space.
Also, a spoiler alert: you have to be brave enough to stand by them at all times, even when you find your business in polarizing situations, like Roe.
Empty words are empty promises
I’ve helped build well over 1,000 brand identities, stories, and platforms over the past decade supporting entrepreneurs with their branding and marketing, and I can unequivocally say there’s always a common denominator — these can’t be empty words that look nice on a screen or sound good in a pitch.
Founders and their teams (if you have one!) have to do the deep work to thoughtfully consider what you really care about. I’ve worked with a lot of founders who are literally saving the world, reducing carbon emissions, creating dignified employment opportunities and running social-focused brands. But what about the companies that aren’t out to save the world? You can have a story worth telling, too.
The three pieces to your brand story
The three important pieces in your overall brand story and brand platform are: your vision, mission and value statements:
Your vision: [this is the future state of what the world will look like once you’ve influenced it]. This statement is BIG.
Your mission: [this explains HOW you’ll realize the vision]
Your values: [these are usually ‘we believe’, or ‘I believe’ statements that further explain the WHY behind your vision and mission]. They provide more context and are the framework for supporting your vision and mission statements.
To more simply explain, your vision and mission statements are the ceiling and foundation of your house, while your values are the walls that support the entire structure.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to save the world to create a company that matters (but if you are, by all means, proceed!), what matters is that you create a brand platform that matters to you. There are no wrong or perfect answers here, which is why this part is so hard to get “right.” It’s personal, it requires introspection, and it requires businesses to be bold, brave and ready to share your voice and vision with the world.
So in conclusion, I’ll leave you with the words of Alex Batdorf again: Stand up for something (anything), or sit down.
Do you feel stuck and confused because you're missing brand clarity?
If so, it's highly likely you're missing critical, foundational steps that HB&Co. call — THE FOUR C's. Without these, your brand might be hanging by a thread. Jess and her team have opened a special enrollment period to their flagship program, The Lucy Lab Marketing Accelerator (of which I've been a mentor!). They're looking for 20 BETA participants to test out a self-paced version of this incredible program. Email Jess for more details on participating in their BETA or learn more about the flagship program.
Jessica Korthuis is the Co-founder & CEO of Her Brand & Co., the leading marketing educational platform that teaches female founders how to brand, market and grow their businesses. Jessica is a 40 Under 40 Honoree, a “Women Who Mean Business” Honoree, a “Women to Watch in 2019 and Beyond” award recipient, and was recently awarded the Womenpreneur Education Business Innovator of the Year by the 2021 Influential Businesswoman Awards.
She enjoys public speaking and her company has been featured by Entrepreneur Women, Girlboss, Thrive Global, The Lean Startup Co., IFundWomen, The Female Founder Collective, The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and many others. She's a proud mompreneur with a passion for empowering and advocating for women and female entrepreneurship. She's a fierce advocate for women driving wealth creation, and is most happy spending time with her husband and daughters.