Last month, I started a series that outlines the importance of storytelling for CPG brands and how having a strong, differentiated identity can help almost every line of business and ultimately improve your ROI. You can read that post here.
However, before you can tell (and truly live) your brand story, you need to define it. Your mission statement is essentially your purpose. It should act as your focal point and guiding principle for any decisions your company makes.
Here are some tips for building your mission or, if you’re at a place where you’ve outgrown your mission and things have shifted or evolved, some things to keep in mind as you refocus.
1. Be clear.
Make sure people know what you’re saying and that you’re saying something. This isn’t the place to be clever or practice your puns and wordplay. Think about why you began and why you will continue doing what you’re doing. What is the thing that keeps you moving?
Nike’s mission, “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body you’re an athlete,” is one of the best examples of a clear statement. When you see their advertisements and products, you see their mission brought to life. No other brand can be confused with this statement.
Richard Branson also had some good advice on clarity:
"Brevity is certainly key, so try using Twitter's 140-character template when you're drafting your inspirational message. You need to explain your company's purpose and outline expectations for internal and external clients alike."
2. Be focused/purposeful.
You don’t need to say all the things. What do you need to communicate? Make a priorities list – what does your company actually stand for? What is the one thing you want people to know about your brand?
Depending on your company and core offer, this may be different. You may want to showcase your culture, your product innovation or even the way you approach problems. Below are some different statements with varying focuses:
Product-focused: "To create and promote great-tasting, truly healthy, organic beverages." — Honest Tea
Service-focused: "To provide the best customer service possible." — Zappos
Spirit/Personality-focused: “Use our pioneering spirit to responsibly deliver energy to the world.” — ConocoPhillips
3. Be different.
What is the unmet need you’re delivering? Why did your company start in the first place? What is it about your product or company that makes you truly different?
Identify the white space in the category and what you’re really, really good at that makes you the clear choice for that need. Just being better creates an environment for a “me too!” and never-ending claims wars.
A great example is Volvo, whose mission is “to make people’s lives easier, safer and better.” Before Volvo redefined its mission and branding, the car landscape was defined by luxury, economy, sports, SUVs, compact, but there weren’t cars built and bought purely for safety. Welcome, Volvo.
4. Be big.
What’s your ambition? You may start out as just a seedling but you are going to grow. Use your mission as your guiding principle. It should be the red thread that is a part of every conversation, every product, every advertisement and even every email.
Amazon’s mission, “to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online,” showcases their ambitions. They use extremes — most, anything — to show their competitiveness and that they’ll never stop delivering.
What are some of your favorite best — and worst — mission statements?
Next month, my article will be focused on communicating your brand story to your internal stakeholders.