Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

Open Manila Envelope with Approved Brand Mission peaking out

Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate clutter. You might not know that from the condition of my home, but I do.

To reduce clutter, I regularly donate what we no longer use to the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation.

But prevention is the holy grail. I scrutinize purchase considerations and proffered hand-me-downs.  If I can’t envision their use we decline.

My clutter aversion makes me a wary outdoor market shopper though I love to look.  On a crisp mid-October Sunday I was perusing the last-of-the-season markets in Boston’s South End with friends, purchase-free until I met Kate Kellman.

Kate co-founded Of Note Stationers and was standing behind a display of beautiful greeting cards.  My weakness.  Despite my growing collection, I felt my energy surge as I approached her.

When I inquired about the cards, Kate told me that Of Note Stationers aims to help people appreciate the little things in life and express those on paper as a way to deepen relationships.

Now she had my heart and my head. And my wallet. I bought six cards.

Kate knew her brand mission and used it to guide everything she and her partner did for the business.

Clear Brand Mission Statements Motivate and Align Employees

Like my home, brand mission statements often attract clutter. Meaningless phrases, generalities, clichés.

Not the good ones though. And Of Note Stationers has a good one. Here it is in full from their website:

“At Of Note Stationers we believe that letter writing is a mindful act, one that allows you to slow down, appreciate the little things in life, and share that appreciation with others. We strive to keep people connected and deepen relationships through the handwritten word.”

Why do you need a brand mission?

Without a clear brand mission, employees don’t know what they are working toward.  They have no guideline for decision-making, idea generation or how what they do fits into the brand.

If you have dozens or hundreds of people making conflicting decisions and acting in a vacuum, that can slow or derail your goals for your brand. Budgets get misallocated. Product offerings sprawl. Service delivery is inconsistent. And no one knows quite what differentiates your brand from your competitors.

A clear brand mission inspires, motivates and aligns everyone working on the brand. It speeds and smooths the path to what you are trying to achieve.

A brand mission isn’t something you spend an afternoon, a day or a week on and then put in a drawer.

Your brand has to live its mission for it to be true.

Worthy Brand Missions Attract Like-Minded Customers

As Management Consultant Simon Sinek explains in his TED talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Customers buy with their hearts first – like I did at Of Note Stationers’ kiosk.  Purchases are emotional decisions.

For your brand to resonate, it has to touch your customers emotionally.  That starts with your brand’s mission, its reason-for-being.

When a worthy brand mission unites and motivates your employees, and touches your customers emotionally, your brand soars.

And your cash register rings.

The One-Word Brand Mission Statement

Great brand missions are not only clear, but also make it easy to distill the brand’s focus to a single word.

In Of Note Stationer’s account I’d say two words: appreciation and connection.  Powerful ideas driving the brand.

This clarity is easy when your company has only two employees.  But great brands achieve it with thousands.

The North Face is celebrating their 50th anniversary and has thousands of employees.  See if you can identify their single word from their brand story:

“…we believe we are more than a collection of fabrics and zippers. We are a global movement that celebrates, encourages and enables exploration. We know it is more than putting one foot in front of the other. Exploration transforms the soul. It is social, creative and intellectual. It happens on the rock or the street. We exist to inspire you to explore.

Did you get it?

Exploration. Encapsulated in this word is the reason The North Face’s employees come to work and what they are trying to achieve with the brand.

Having a one word mission statement makes it easy for everyone to remember and act on.

My mission in a word is perspective.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  clarify your brand mission and identify the one-word version that can inspire everyone who touches your brand.

While you are doing that, I’m off to write some of those cards I purchased.  To clear the clutter, but more to appreciate and connect!

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