Awesome branding is an extension of your Vision and Mission statements. This fact, I’ve found, is largely misunderstood, primarily by marketing teams who focus on how your business should approach your market and failing to uncover your business’s personality and its position in the market. Even C-Suite teams, often, look at branding and marketing as separate disciplines from business strategy and purpose. Both are misguided.
Your branding efforts should be the public face of your Mission and Vision statements and any serious branding conversation must begin by establishing these statements. Your Mission and Vision statements, not your marketing efforts, define your company and your branding must reflect these definitions.
To distinguish between Vision and Mission statements, I’ve always defaulted back to the plain English usage of those two words and the simplest way I’ve found to show that difference in usage is to add the letters "ARY" to the end of each word.
Each of us certainly knows what those two words mean. A visionary is someone who sees what’s possible, who sees potential. A missionary is someone who carries out the work to achieve that potential. Your organization's Vision is all about what is possible and the Mission is what it takes to make that Vision come true.
If your Vision Statement is a statement of what’s possible and a picture of the future you want to create, the critical questions are: "Vision for whom and for what?" An effective Vision Statement will, therefore, tell the world what change you wish to create in the world through your company, for your clients.
Your Vision Statement answers the BIG question: Why are you doing what you’re doing? You’re doing it so you can create a company that is better than the competition. Your Vision Statement will create that context. It will tell everyone where you are heading.
Like the missionary, your Mission Statement will turn your Vision Statement into practice. The Mission Statement does the heavy work. Again, it’s easy to see what the Mission Statement needs to do if we go back to plain English usage. Consider the phrase "mission accomplished" - the work is done. Consider the phrase "mission impossible - the job cannot be done. The mission is the doing part, it’s what you’ll do to bring reality to your Vision Statement. And while it’s powerful to talk about the work you do, it’s more powerful to talk about it in the context of why you’re doing that work.
Mission Statements shouldn't be flowery and overblown. If it’s taking a committee 6 months to write your Mission Statement, the resulting Mission Statement will likely fall flat. Keep it simple…real simple. And for the record, I’m not a fan of the thinking that says, "Your Mission Statement should fit on a T-shirt." That’s your brand promise and we’ll talk more about that soon. Just tell people what you do, and why you’re doing it.
In my experience, companies have no way of translating the sign on the wall into the decisions they make and the actions they take every day. That’s the power of your Vision and Mission Statements. They not only tell the world outside and inside the organization what talk you want to walk, but it gives you the tools for measuring whether or not you are indeed walking that talk!
Meetings are a great place to internally apply your Vision and Mission statements. In my experience, meetings always seem to have a tendency to quickly dive into the million small items that need to be addressed. By starting them by taking a few moments to review and talk about these your Vision and Mission statements, you are setting the tone and the context for making practical discussions. What are we really here for? What is the context of the decisions we will make today? What future are we trying to create, and for whom? And when we do make decisions, which is what we are here to do - what will we base those decisions on?
I cannot count the number of times, during tough decisions with company’s that I’ve worked with, that I’ve simply referenced their Vision and Mission Statements and instantly put that tough decision into perspective. Therefore, a habit to cultivate is to have this simple question asked for each and every decision you’re making:" How will the decision we’re about to make fit into our Vision and Mission of our Company?"
By writing these 2 statements and by committing to having them guide your organization's work and your brand, you'll have 2 simple and powerful tools for ensuring continuity in your efforts to create a predictably awesome future and brand.