Mission statements: inspirational or a load of nonsense?

Mission statements are "a load of nonsense that neither the staff or customers care about", according to a small majority in the poll below from Marketing. This was part of an article about "The 24 Most Inspirational Mission Statements". The list was compiled by those world-renowned experts in brand strategy, Unum Insurance. Yes, I know. Pardon the language, but who the f***k are they?

So, are mission statements a waste of time and effort? 

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1. Generic, off-the-shelf statements

Some of the mission statements in Unum's list are real shockers: totally bland and generic. These truly are a load of nonsense, and of no value to anyone. 

Check these out and see if you have any idea who they are for:

"To be the energy company most admired for its people, partnership and performance" (1)

"We go further to make our cars better, our employees happier and our planet a better place to be" (2)

Sorry, small break while I got to vomit in the toilet at that last one. Ugh. That's better.

"Create a better life for everyday people" (3)

"Be our customers favourite place and way to eat and drink" (4)

And the most generic of all: "Offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value" (5)

Answers are at the bottom of the post.

If you want one of these "off the shelf" statements, just use Dlibert's Mission Statement Generator, that I posted on here.

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2. Brand, not bland

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 15.02.06If a company is bold enough to have a distinctive mission statement, I do believe it can be a good way to inspire people in inside the business. It should capture the specific reasons the company is in business, beyond just making money. That's why personally, in terms of jargon, I prefer "purpose"  to mission statement.

Talking to people from Nike, their mission statement is used and referred to in the business. The little * gives a bit of edge to it (*If you have a body you are an athlete)

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 15.05.05It also helps to anchor on the product or service you sell in my book (although some people say it should not be that specific). So, Nike's talks about inspiration and innovation for athletes, for example. This can help keep everyone on the right track and focused on the core of what made you famous.The Build a Bear one is a good example. It is rooted in the bear, but also captures what this stands for in emotional terms.



Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 15.08.10Having some stretch and ambition in the mission statement gives a sense of where the company is heading in the future. Do this well and you can perhaps do away with that other bit of corporate brand strategy called "the vision". Its a sort of BOGOF strategy statement (Buy one, get one free). Amazon does this by saying it wants to be "The world's most customer-centric company" (vision-y bit) "where customers can find anything they want to buy online" (purpose-y bit). "Anything" shows the ambition to stretch way beyond books. And "online" has a focus on the core channel.

3. Bottle the magic

When we do help companies work on their brand vision and purpose we push them to be distinctive, as discussed above. In addition, we seek to "hothouse" this process so it is completed in a few weeks, not months or even years. We do this by helping the leaders of the business "bottle and bring to life the magic" of their brand. Our belief is that a true sense of purpose come from the top, and not from a series of endless meetings, stakeholder interviews and workshops where everyone's view is considered (even if this is a way to make a LOT more money, as some agencies do).

Best of all is when you have a "Brand CEO" who is the living, breathing embodiment of the brand, as I posted on here. When you have a Michael Dell, Howard Shultz, Geoff Bezos or Steve Jobs, you don't need to write down the mission/purpose as it you see, feel and smell it. 

In conclusion, if you bottle the magic of your brand and bring it to life in a ballsy statement, it can inspire your team. However, if you are going down the bland not brand route, save yourself time and money and ask Dilbert. 

The full list of 24 is here, and the answers to those bland mission statements are:

1. Chevron

2. Ford

3. Ikea

4. Mc Donald's

5. Nordstrom