Thursday, February 27, 2014

Remember the mission statement? Now the talk is of brand purpose

As with much to do with the written word, encapsulating an idea into a few succinct lines is a tougher task than writing a lot.

When I worked in the corporate world, mission statements were a fashion for a while. Writing something short and to the point to describe the purpose of a company is not a job for a team exercise but nonetheless our board of directors decided to embark on writing a mission statement that way. Back in,  I guess the 1980's, it was not uncommon to see these texts framed and hung on display in Reception. They were a bit like the embroidered biblical quotes with which my grandmother was fond of adorning the walls of her home, or placing above the fireplace.

Here is an example mission statement from a Fortune 500 company.

"To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers."

Probably fairly typical, but what is it for? Is it a mantra to be repeated at the start of each day to remind employees of what they should be doing? Is it to impress customers? Is it to display in reception? Either way a web site claims to be able to knock out a Mission Statement within the hour. Perhaps that puts it in perspective. Maybe they also write mottos for Christmas crackers.

But hold on. Marketing Week has noted a current trend to define 'Brand Purpose'. Wow what's that? Apparently it is the "deepest expression of a brand" - "a winning combination of brand heritage, positioning, mission statement and social conscience." Guess that will take more than an hour to come up with.

Here are some examples quoted in the article:-

  • Amazon's brand purpose is "freedom of choice" and you thought they sold books and an increasing heap of other stuff online.
  • Coke doesn't sell fizzy drinks, it "inspires moments of happiness" and
  • Johnnie Walker whiskey is " celebrating journeys of progress and success." 

Perhaps they should turn to real estate novelists to come up with this stuff rather than a one hour online service. Or better still ensure the customer base continues to receive positive
messages that consistently explain what differentiates your brand from its competitors and why thy should stick with it.

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