Mission Statements, Ad Slogans and Charting Your Direction
When it comes to charting the direction for your business, where do you look? If you aren’t sure, consider advertising slogans, either one you have or how you can learn from “the big boys.”
We all have connections with great advertising slogans:
- Coca-Cola: “It’s the real thing.”
- Nike: “Just do it!”
- Allstate Insurance: “You’re in good hands.”
- Avis: “We try harder.”
- John Deere: “Nothing runs like a Deere.”
- Kentucky Fried Chicken: “Finger lickin’ good.”
- Lays Potato Chips: “Betcha can’t eat just one.”
- De Beers Consolidated: “A diamond is forever.”
- Burger King: “Have it your way.”
In contrast, how many company mission statements are you familiar with or would ring true for you if you heard them? If you work for a company that has a mission statement, maybe you remember reading it once or twice somewhere in the past. If you have a good memory, maybe you also retained some of the context of the document.
According to Wikipedia: “A mission statement is a short statement of an organization’s purpose, identifying the scope of its operations: what kind of product or service it provides, its primary customers or market, and its geographical region of operation.
“A mission is…. an expression, made by its leaders, of their desires and intent for the organization. The purpose of a mission statement is to focus and direct the organization itself.
“It communicates primarily to the people who make up the organization—its members or employees—giving them a shared understanding of the organization’s intended direction. Organizations normally do not change their mission statements over time, since they define their continuous, ongoing purpose and focus.”
The vision, expressed as a part of the mission statement, should provide leadership with “what” to be focusing and directing the company toward.
A well-developed mission/vision statement normally melds the vision with supporting ideas, such as goals, values, objectives, and intent – in setting this focus and direction.
It allows leadership to provide to their employees “a shared understanding of the organization’s intended direction.”
However, many mission statements, once finished, are filed away in a drawer. Later, they are found only in an annual report to investors or printed in a handout given to hospital patients by admissions.
There is often a failure of leadership to develop useful, personified mission statements and then use those living documents to help chart the company’s future direction.
One item missing in most mission statement implementation processes is a short, concise, easily remembered derivative that contains the essence, or core concept.
Historically, advertising slogans/mottos, with only a few exceptions, are used for a few years, and are then replaced by some new idea. People change, ideas change, and marketing fads come and go.
But this state of constant flux may represent an expense from the standpoint of confusing customers. Constantly changing ad slogans often leads to the subsequent loss of “branding” value which had been accomplished by those slogans.
Mission statements, on the other hand, by definition, normally do not change over time. When not used effectively, they may also represent a waste of time and money in developing them in the first place. At the very least, they are a missed opportunity.
As the leader of your business, why not develop one timeless ad slogan? It could also serve as the “core” for a short mission/vision synopsis, to set the focus and direction for your company. You would end up with the best of both worlds by telling people, both internally and externally, the same basic concept/statement of who you are and what you do.
The following well-known ad slogans (not necessarily in current use) could be enumerated upon by company leadership for use as the “core” of the mission/vision statement.
We have offered our own possible interpretation after each real ad slogan:
Ford Motor Company: “Quality is job 1.”
We must build higher quality cars and trucks than our competitors so our customers will buy Ford cars and trucks, rather than those of our competitors.
Miller Brewing Company: “It’s Miller time!”
At the Miller Brewing Company, we must brew our beer every day for our customers, with the same gusto we show on Friday, when “It’s Miller time,” and we head off for a cold one to celebrate a job well done with friends or co-workers.
Timex: “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”
At Timex, we build watches for hard-working, everyday people, just like us, who work: in factories, in construction, on farms, or in offices. They deserve a beautiful time piece, able to take a licking and keep on ticking, at a reasonable price.
Campbell’s Soup: “M’m! M’m! Good!”
Our vision at Campbell’s Soap must be that every time one of our customers finishes a bowl of our soap they think to themselves, “M’m! M’m! Good!”
S.C. Johnson: “A Family Company.”
At S.C. Johnson, we must strive to produce products for our customers’ families with the same dedication to quality and value we would seek to provide to our own families.
Texaco: “Trust your car to the man who wears the star.”
To earn and maintain our customers’ TRUST, at Texaco, we must develop and provide superior products and service to them.
BMW: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
At BMW, our mission is to build “The Ultimate Driving Machine” for our customers so they would consider driving anything else for the performance, quality and experience our cars offer.
As consumers, we already have connections with these ad slogans. Therefore, it is easy to make the jump in understanding the concept of using them as a core for the synopsis mission/vision statement.
Here is an example of one more ad slogan. It is not real, but through time has the potential to produce similar end results to the BMW example. It is presented here to help you conceptualize how a “brand new” ad slogan might be perceived, as if you had, seen it and heard it, in commercials repeatedly over the past five years, or fifty years, or more.
- 3M: Innovating Adhesives for Your World.
- At 3M, our mission is to develop Innovative adhesives (and related products) for all applications to meet our customers’ future
The 3M Corporation is a huge international company and one of the world’s leading developers of adhesives for countless uses, as well as many other products. The company has built their success upon a visionary culture and orientation which demands constant innovation and new product development.
While the preceding discussion and examples pertain primarily to larger, national scale corporations, the same basic concepts apply to start-ups and smaller local businesses alike.
As leader, your visionary challenge is to define a timeless, winning ad concept for your business.
If it can successfully reflect—or form the basis of—a mission statement that clearly communicates your business’s purpose and value to your customers, your brand will benefit. In turn, chances are that your bottom line will enjoy benefits as well!