The search for a proper mission statement for your company can drive anyone through a range of emotions and reactions, from confusion about the precise purpose and definition of a mission statement, to annoyance and doubt about need for one in the first place. If you’re seeking branding in Orange County, you may find yourself in one of these points of uncertainty regarding your mission statement. Let’s talk about what they are and what they aren’t, and most of all, what they’re for.
Is it marketing?
The short answer is a decisive NO! But the longer answer a decisive yes and no. First of all, it isn’t a form of marketing because it’s something far more important. You’ve got to keep an eye on who your company really is and what they are doing—and that just isn’t possible if the mission of your company isn’t expressed. The history of business is riddled with examples of companies who pivot away from their core identity and meet ruin for it.
Still, the way you say something matters, and here is the overlap between your mission statement and a traditional advertisement: it needs to be said well. The difference is that the statement isn’t there to persuade, or cause an action—it’s there to clearly express the true inner workings of your company. From this well-expressed core statement comes all marketing, but also everything else about your company too.
So many people, when confronted with the task of writing a mission statement, start out by confronting their own feelings of cynicism about the bland, implausible, or otherwise “corporate-sounding” mission statements that companies are dogged by. Still, it’s best not to get cynical yourself. In a business environment with ever-more competitors, communicating the inner truth of what your company is about actually couldn’t be more important. It’s very much possible to explain your company in words that are sincere, and true, and useful.
And likewise, a cynical public should be taken into account when crafting your message—but there’s a better way of saying that: just be honest.
It’s Inward-Facing Too!
It can be easy to forget, but the main reason you write a mission statement isn’t just for those outside your company to learn about you. Perhaps more importantly, a mission statement is the main way—perhaps the only way—to keep your company’s identity on-track. Don’t just think of your customers; be sure to think about your employees and anyone else that comes into contact with your business. That’s where your mission statement pays off in dividends.
Channel your inner cynic for a moment and think about how common it is in the world of branding and marketing to simply have the agency write a company’s mission statement. To be fair, most companies will have a certain degree of “getting to know the company,” but still, at the end of the day, they paid for a mission statement. We at Twelve12 certainly facilitate the creation of mission statements, along with core values and vision statements—it’s a big part of the process of branding for our Orange County clients. The difference becomes visible with our role in the process. We facilitate, where others generate.
A mission must absolutely come from the company if it’s going to stick, and be adopted, and define the business and its employees going forward; which, in the end, is the most important purpose of a mission statement: to give definition to the company.