Oct 25, 2018 - 06:30 AM
What happens when you are not available to tell your clients in person about your business? Your brand identity does the talking for you. It is who you are and conveys the story about your business. Since your brand identity is crucial in driving your creative marketing decisions, you need to make sure you get it right from the onset.
Source: Businessing Magazine
The Mission Statement
Strategic planning is a continuous circular process that starts with your mission statement. A mission statement states your company’s purpose and the very fundamental reasons for its existence. It defines what the company does for its customers, employees and owners.
One thing you need to keep in mind as you write the mission statement is that this action presents you an opportunity to define your company’s goals, culture, ethics and norms of decision-making.
Often times, the daily business routines get in your organization’s way and a mission statement quickly refreshes you and helps your team to appreciate the purpose of the organization. It thus serves as a guide for day-to-day operations as well as the foundation for future decision-making. It needs to be specific, short, laser-focused, and memorable.
A simple method to find out whether you have a good, functioning mission statement in your company is to honestly ask yourself whether:
- Your competitors could use exactly the same statement,
- It distinguishes you from all other businesses- can a client or employee tell which your company is if they took a blind screening test on the mission statements?
Just like in all the other spheres of business, form follows function in crafting a mission statement. This response is a quick guide that you could use alongside other resources you may encounter to draft a mission statement for your clients.
Create a Market-Defining Story
It all boils down to putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Just imagine them making the real decision to buy your product or service. Can you see why they want it, how they find you, and what buying from you does for the customer?
While you do not have to actually write the story as part of the mission statement, you need to think it through. Keep in mind that this is not literally part of the mission statement but rather a background checklist that you need to consider as you create your killer mission statement.
A market-defining story helps you explain the “why to buy” by creating a value proposition for your customers. In case you are having trouble getting started, an easy way to go about this step is thinking about what your business doesn’t do as well as what it isn’t. It helps you create or define your buyer persona.
Should you have difficulties creating your story, just jot down a quick list of items that the company does and what it doesn’t.
Define what the company does for the Customer
The next step is actually the starting point in creating your mission statement. It entails thinking through what your company does for the customer. It lists the good you do. Now is the time to put into good use the market-defining story you wrote in the first step. Using the story, itemize whatever it is that makes your business both special and unique for your customer.
One thing you need to remember is that you need to offer just the right solution at the best value to your customers. In that regard, you do not have to be overly ambitious –stopping nuclear weapons or eliminating cancer- or shoot yourself on the foot for your business to stand out.
Since wording is very important in your mission statement, always mention it whenever your business is doing a global good. However, whatever you claim ought to be meaningful, true, verifiable and distinguishable from the other businesses. Words like “green”, “clean” and “organic” are words that have had a good success rate.
Do not just say it if it is not important or especially when it is not actually true or you do not mean it. The words that you use must be true as well as what you religiously keep to it.
Source: SM Insight
Take a look at the careful and bull’s-eye wording of last year’s mission statement of arguably this century’s technological kingpin, Apple:
“… Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad...”
If at all there was a test for defining what a company does, Apple has done it and passed with flying colors.
This is not just generic hype and is a swift change from the initial change from Steve Jobs’ premier definition of the mission statement for Apple:
“To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
Define what the company does for the Employees, Owners
While a business should be inherently good for the customer, the same goes for the employees. Keeping employees speaks much for the bottom line than the turnover. A company’s mission statement ought to demonstrate its employee culture and what the business does for the employee.
The mission statement is only where you define what you do for your employees. Thereafter, you have to forever make it true by action. Apple does it. Almost every day. A friend who consulted for Apple says they differentiated the business’ goals of empowering employees by calling in high-level educators and presenters to help the employees grow their business expertise.
While this is part of Apple culture, my mind tells me this is also part of their vision and I strongly feel they ought to have thrown it into their mission statement.
American Express however does a good job of incorporating what they do for their employees in their mission statement:
“We have a mission to be the world’s most respected service brand. To do this, we have established a culture that supports our team members, so they can provide exceptional service to our customers.”
If I mentioned that a business exists to enhance the financial position of its owners, the assertion might slide unchallenged even by our business school professors.
Since most mission statements that we write are only outward facing, they often are aimed at just the customers.
Notably though, some mission statements incorporate a much broader sense of mission that at least includes or implies the ownership mission.
Warby Parker’s statement voices a higher mission that incorporates the employees, customers and the owners:
“Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious business.”Brand Guidelines and Strategy
Source: Black Bear Design
A company’s brand style guide does the heavy lifting to capture everything that is your brand. It tells of what you do, and how you are perceived thereby translating into creative guidelines. This style guide essentially covers the design and copy as well as capturing your corporate mission statements and values.
Brand guidelines are to be used by everyone on your marketing team when making strategic decisions.
Here are just some examples of the numerous ways through which you can use the brand style guide:
- Copy tone used in your website, social media, and downloadable content
- Company descriptions on your website, social media, and business directories
- Colours, images, and logo used on social media, client documentation, and print content
- Copy, design, and targeting for advertising campaigns
- Custom website forms and email signatures
- Custom forms on your website
- Product photography and descriptions
- Email design, copy, and segmentation
How to Create a Brand Style Guide
Brand guidelines ensure that everyone in your team starting from the new design intern to the senior marketing executive are on the same pagein ensuring that your team is making their best effort to represent the company.
If you follow the following four steps, you will come up with an effective brand style guide:
- 1.Goal Setting- start by outlining the key business objectives, like your company’s values mission statement, short-term and long-term goals, and what sets you aside from your competitors.
- 2.Brand Discovery- this step kick starts the branding process by initiating exercises, audience research and interviews.
- 3.Audience Identification- Create and simulate up to three customer personas, incorporating all critical demographic and behavioral information.
- 4.Creative Guidelines- Here you need to establish all usage guidelines for design and copy, including everything from logos and colors to voice and tone.
We have looked at both how to develop a sound mission statement and also how to create you brand style guide. The vision and mission statements function to clarify the main cause of your firm’s existence and what your end game is. Brand style guide on the other hand helps you say who you are without having to speak. They represent your brand’s image and reputation.
Strategy is a whole different game. It is much complex and is a topic beyond the scope of this article. You could however have an academic understanding of strategy by looking at Michael Porter’s work. Of course you might have heard of Porter’s Forces Analysis from business school.