I love the mission. It's a shame that it can end up being the overlooked, ugly stepchild of the process. Why is that?
The vision part of the process tends to get all the love and attention. It's the grandiose statement that the CEO proclaims at the shareholder's party. So the vision gets a lot of focus, being shaped and honed to become that inspiring call to arms.
The next area that gets the big love is the brand values, especially from the HR team. Those values are directly tied to the everyday behaviours of the people that work for the business and are a guide to the kind of people you want to work with. If implemented poorly, they tend to be splattered on posters outside the toilets to remind you that integrity is a core value of the business, as opposed to being a dick. Trying to find meaningful values is a real challenge. So much effort is spent making them ownable to your business rather than being blindingly obvious.
So that leaves us with the mission. The mission element of the brand is often overlooked, but it is the mortar that binds the building blocks of the brand pyramid together.
For simplicity, let's look at our brand pyramid to demonstrate. You'd have seen this if you had looked at our other articles.
So, we start with the brand vision. Here's ours:
Our vision is the aspirational goal direction we at Good are trying to reach.
Now, let's imagine that we've skipped the mission and decided to focus on the values.
For me, there is a disconnect between the lofty ideals of the vision and the day-to-day guidance of the values.
And this is the problem; there is nothing here on how you will achieve your vision outside the way you act with your values.
This approach means you leave it open to a massive amount of interpretation on how you can achieve your vision.
Without direction, you end up with people deciding the right way to do things for themselves. For example, using our vision and tied to our values, you could up with someone who would love to simply tell brand managers the honest truth that they have screwed up their brand architecture. Sure, that's an approach, but is it our approach? To bring everyone together on Good's approach, we need to have a mission that defines how we work together to achieve our vision.
This is our mission, the approach that we feel gets us to our vision.
Our mission is a good guide for what we want to achieve with our daily work with clients. When working on projects, from developing our strategic work to delivering key brand assets, we want to ensure that we're solving a problem that adds value to our client's business.
Now, your business may have an approach that you feel would make a different mission, all good. That's what makes you, you. The point is that your mission is the connective tissue between the vision and the mission.
When it all comes together, the vision, the mission and the values, you can see the story of what we're trying to do and the stage we have to get there.
When we work with clients, we sometimes frame the brand pyramid as a series of check-in points that helps measure the overall progress of the business.
Vision - review every year. The core question is, are we getting towards our vision? Depending on the scale of your vision, you may only be making a dent in it, such as "Eradicate Poverty", but you should feel that you're making a difference.
Mission - A quarterly check-in to ensure that your approach to the vision is working, making sense and that it helps contribute to the vision.
Values - this is how we expect to act day-to-day. It's the way you behave when working with the mission. Values are tricky; they can become an exercise in the blindingly obvious. We talked about the strength of creating values uniquely inspired by your business. Values are how you interact with your co-workers, approach your role, and work with your mission.
The mission is at the heart of your brand. It's the organising thought that pulls your vision and values together to be a powerful asset for your business. If you're interested in learning more about brand structure, look at our take on brand values and brand vision to understand our approach.