A brand’s ‘mission’ may be on everyone’s lips, but its commitment is in everyone’s head. And one by one, brands become ‘companies with a mission’.
At the same time, the very notion of ‘Corporate Mission’ is becoming clichéd through overuse: besides content – which obviously remains essential – there’s the question of phraseology.
The keys to a successful brand commitment?
Here we are obviously referring to how words are effectively embodied through action. (Wasn’t it Yves-Saint Laurent that said they were helping to re-empower nature with their Rewild Our Earth initiative, but decided to hold a fashion show in the desert at the same time!) We are also, of course, referring to how to ensure the necessary coherence between the brand’s mission statement and its DNA. (I think we’ll leave the debate open on Philipp Morris France’s new mission statement “To take action and innovate to enable adult smokers to quit smoking by making better choices”). We can add one last aspect that is equally fundamental: how to on-board and ensure the adherence of both employees and stakeholders by co-constructing this commitment with them.
Rest assured: this is not the umpteenth article on how and why it’s important to define a Mission Statement. However, we are going to look at another success factor that is often relegated to the background, but which, nevertheless, is very important, namely: the formalization and wording of the Mission Statement.
Let’s assume for a moment that you had an excellent brainstorming session coming up with ideas for your Mission Statement, and that the six months of in-house consultation were fruitful, resulting in a commitment definition that’s credible, sincere, inspiring and which provides focus and structure…. In short, there’s nothing wrong with it in terms of content! But there’s still an extremely delicate aspect to get right: that is, the precise terminology, or in other words, what words best express your commitment? And that’s where things get a little bit tricky… again.
Because it’s clear that, amongst the plethora of Mission Statements that have been defined over recent years, there are actually very few that don’t sound completely hollow or even like total bullshit. They all read like a copy/paste of so-called ‘inspiring’ LinkedIn publications, and are nothing more than empty shells with no real substance.
And that’s not to mention those statements that are convoluted and difficult to understand, or which are so long that you’ve already forgotten the beginning by the time you get to the end, or those that on the surface seem totally interchangeable!
This is particularly the case with so many insurance and banking companies, as can clearly be seen in the ever so long Mission statement of CNP Assurances. It just smacks of fine writing, employing all the buzzwords of the year for that guaranteed stylistic effect: “As responsible insurers and investors driven by our group’s civic vocation, we act with our partners to promote an inclusive and sustainable society by providing protection solutions to as many people as possible”.
3 brand commitment principles
There are a few principles worth highlighting here:
- Choose authenticity, not advertising clichés – which are often too good to be true
- Use simple, clear and concise sentences. Aim for a message that’s easy to understand and identify with, rather than one that is seductive or exhaustive
- Opt for a proprietary, brand-specific tone that will reflect the personality and culture of your brand
Fortunately, there are already some inspirational examples of this!
Namely Decathlon, with their clear and effective Mission statement: “To sustainably make the pleasure and benefits of sport accessible to the many”.
And there’s Le Slip Français, who have managed to make their commitment brand-specific by highlighting the playful and imaginative side of their DNA: “To reinvent the French textile industry with verve!”