Don’t ask me why, but every time I hear someone say, “mission statement,” my mind flashes back to Dan Aykroyd’s character in the film The Blues Brothers. If you’ve seen it recently (or have a really good memory), Elwood tells people “We are on a mission from God.” While he’s pretty convincing, my gut tells me that this isn’t what most company leaders are talking about when they schedule a strategic planning session.
These statements are important. When clients first ask for my help sorting this out, it’s common for them to have a bit of uncertainty. After all, when we use words like mission, vision, core values, core purpose and elevator speech; they all start to run together. Fortunately, with a simple explanation, these all start to make sense.
Start with this: Mission, vision and values are meant for the internal audience, aka employees. In the film, the closest people to employees are the band, but you catch my drift. The mission tells employees what we are going to do, the vision tells everyone what success looks like and the values are the rules that they expect everyone to live by. Jake and Elwood are on a mission to get the band back together, and their vision is to save the orphanage they were raised in from foreclosure. Most companies use words like honesty, integrity, etc. to describe their values, but I’m struggling to apply those words to most of the dialogue in the film.
When we start talking about a company’s core purpose, we rev the Bluesmobile’s engine, drop it into low-gear, spin the tires and launch it into a U-turn. A core purpose statement should always be customer-focused. It tells why companies exist for their customers. Supporting statements describe how you achieve what you set out to do for them. This is not only the source of differentiation, but also forms the foundation for the brand “story” that everyone in the company learns how to tell.
At Anchor Marketing, we don’t have an old police car or a band. (That’d be sooooo cool, though!) What we do have is a creative group of people that have helped clients to define their brand for many years, from mission statements to scripted, punchy elevator speeches. So, if you are within 106 miles from us and have a full tank of gas, “hit it” and ask us for our help. (What can I say? It’s a great movie). Day or night. No sunglasses required.