So, brands should be generous. Like Amelia’s JFK school of branding, they need to ‘ask not what your consumer can do can do for you, ask what you can do for your consumer’. Co-creation, consumer power – it’s all clear, right?
If it is, then companies should be embracing this philosophy not just in their brand communications but in their vision. A cursory review of the mission statements of the Fortune 500 reveals that some are:
– To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world (NIKE)
– We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use (CVS corp)
– To help all people live healthy lives (Becton, Dickinson & Co)
But an awful lot aren’t. Like: ‘Undisputed Marketplace Leadership’ (The Hershey Company). What does this do for the consumer? Do Hershey’s customers care that it is market leader? Do they care that this market-leadership is undisputed? Of-course they don’t.
I have a thing about company mission statements and I love visions which express the reason for a company’s existence in a simple, lucid, unambiguous way. A vision should be so clear that if you were to ask any employee what the mission statement of the company they worked for was, they’d just rattle it off right there. I’d like to see employees of a certain bookstore chain try and rattle off this one:
“Our mission is to operate the best specialty retail business in America, regardless of the product we sell. Because the product we sell is books, our aspirations must be consistent with the promise and the ideals of the volumes which line our shelves. To say that our mission exists independent of the product we sell is to demean the importance and the distinction of being booksellers. As booksellers we are determined to be the very best in our business, regardless of the size, pedigree or inclinations of our competitors. We will continue to bring our industry nuances of style and approaches to bookselling which are consistent with our evolving aspirations. Above all, we expect to be a credit to the communities we serve, a valuable resource to our customers, and a place where our dedicated booksellers can grow and prosper. Toward this end we will not only listen to our customers and booksellers but embrace the idea that the Company is at their service.“ (Barnes and Noble)
It is amazing how many company visions are just like this – long, verbose, complex paragraphs of prose that say little about what that company’s customers can expect to get from that organisation. If your employees can’t tell you what your company vision is, how do you expect them to live it? And if your employees don’t live your vision, how do you expect your customers to be touched by it?
The point is, it’s all very well a company’s communications telling people that its products, brands, and services are generous, that they can offer the customer benefit, reward, great service, whatever, but what good is that if the company itself does not live it?
Mission statement image courtesy