A corporate mission should do more than inspire the brand

During the branding process, I usually begin with foundations: an organization's Mission, Vision, and Values. Unfortunately, for many companies, these are used during the branding process, documented in a brand guide book, and then referenced occasionally in an annual report, or board meeting.

But they should be used for far more! If they really underpin a brand, they should be "made real" in the organization. Today, I want to discuss the Mission statement, and how it can be made real.

First, what's a mission statement? If you've been around corporate leadership for any length of time, you've probably seen a bunch of different definitions. Many of them are more internally focused ("to deliver value for our shareholders", etc.). These are lame. If you want to deliver value for your shareholders, go put their investment in an index fund and do something else.

A organization's mission statement should capture the organization's reason for being – its story.

Once you have that story down, you can do all the standard stuff with it – put it in your brand guidelines and your annual report, but you can also use it to guide your marketing efforts and make them infinitely more inspiring. Your marketing efforts are no longer about just convincing people to buy your product, but they are about convincing people to change their lives for the better, whether they buy or not.

And of course, if you're able to convince people to change their lives, you'll also convince them to buy your product along the way.