Brand statements. What comes to mind when you hear those two words together? You probably rolled your eyes. Brand statements are both boring and unnecessary, right?
This is the usual sentiment towards them, in part because there are so many examples of horrible, meaningless brand statements. Even large companies, leaders in their industries, can’t manage to create a decent mission statement. A lot of them lack the depth and the clarity to be effective.
However, this is a very important piece to any company, of any size. A brand statement clarifies what exactly this company does. And, trust me, you need to know what you are doing and why before getting into the business.
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It won’t get any easier down the road. Starting out without a clear purpose is similar to searching for wiper controls on a new car while you’re driving down a highway -- not a good idea. Brand mission helps a business owner down the road when there are decisions to be made about a variety of opportunities that can take that company in 10 different directions. Only a powerful mission that is internalized by all employees of a company can stick around and provide the needed guidance.
Your company has limited resources in terms of money, time and human power you can invest in any given opportunity. When you know what your business stands for, it becomes that much easier to differentiate between good opportunities and irrelevant ones that will only distract you for your main purpose.
So, how do you create a good -- no -- a great mission statement? First of all, it has to be very short and to the point. You’re not describing every single detail of your business’ operations. You are trying to evaluate your core value and mission.
A great mission statement responds to all of the following questions.
1. What is the core competency of the company?
Clearly you’ve got to know what you offer. What is the core offer that differentiates you form competition? Is it durable auto parts that allow car enthusiasts enjoy their automobiles ten years longer? Is it cheap food that’s conveniently located at every corner? Is it organic local produce that maintains food integrity and consumers’ health?
Make sure you don’t end up generalizing your product. Include what value proposition your product has that others don’t.
2. Who does the company serve?
This is very important question, too. Your company cannot serve everyone. We all have our own brand preferences even for mundane products we use every day without thinking.
Some people prefer toothpaste without fluoride, because it’s better for your overall health. Some people like toothbrushes with hard bristles because they clean better. Some people prefer soft toilet paper… for obvious reasons. Other people don’t care about any of that stuff and go for the cheapest thing on the aisle.
So, going back to your core competency… who cares about it the most? Does your product save time for busy moms? Does your product make a Web developer’s job easier? Does your product help entrepreneurs keep their finances organized? Does your product protect kids’ health? See, depending on our values, we all desire and need different things.
You have to zero in on your target market and know their demographics, needs, desires, struggles… and where you can reach them.
3. Why does it matter?
Why do busy moms need more time? Because they want spend less time on chores and more time having fun with their families.
Why do entrepreneurs need better management of their finances? Because better management, means a clearer picture of wastes and good investment opportunities.
Why do we care about health of our children? Because healthy kids means happier world.
While it may all sound obvious, still put it in writing. When the going gets rough, this will serve you as a reminder of why you started in the first place.
And this is how you internalize your brand statement. It all starts to make sense. You feel empowered to go out and continue to help people to live a healthier life, to enjoy better things in life, to have less stress, to feel happier and so on.
Internalizing your brand statement, the one you really believe in, will help you make better decisions and to focus on what matters most. This is the only way for a brand statement to really stick and to save it from being just another meaningless boring blurb.