Why Directors Must Rethink A Company’s Purpose Statement

In a competitive marketplace, differentiation is one of the best ways for a directorto drive a brand’s growth. It separates the good from the bad from the indifferent.

Unfortunately, many business leaders fail to realize that being “different” can come off as disingenuous if it doesn’t go beyond the surface. That’s why your most persuasive differentiator will almost always be your brand purpose.

Take Johnson & Johnson, for example. For more than 70 years, the manufacturer has conducted business by a mission statement of 300-plus words, often referred to as the company’s credo. That credo ensures that decisions create long-term value for customers and employees alike.

Not all purpose statements are as timeless as Johnson & Johnson’s, however. Countless directors view brand purpose as a marketing ploy, but that approach is inherently flawed.

If you’re focusing on purpose for purpose’s sake, people will see right through you. After all, 61% of consumers want brands to stand for something. Transparency, openness, and authenticity will help provide a brand narrative compelling enough to build trust and engagement with consumers and employees alike.

A brand purpose should be the reason for your operations and an essential component of your organization’s DNA. If your brand statement feels a little stale, it might be time to take it back to the drawing board.

Driven by Purpose

Even if your company has a purpose statement that has driven growth for years, it’s worth circling back to re-evaluate whether it’s still an accurate representation of where your organization is — and where it is headed.

Does your purpose statement still resonate with your team members? What about your target audience? Is it still relevant to your products or services? As with many important decisions, an organization’s purpose should begin at the top with the board of directors.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella undoubtedly was involved in the decision to rethink the tech titan’s core vision in 2017. As reported by CNBC, Microsoft removed its previous focus on a “mobile-first and cloud-first world” and injected its purpose statement with a dose of artificial intelligence.

If your brand’s purpose statement is designed to guide your company’s activity, then what are the essential elements of a successful and persuasive purpose statement? Whether it’s brand new or decades-old, your purpose statement should be:

1. Unattainable: This one might surprise you, but it’s important that your company is not able to achieve the mission set out in your purpose statement. It’s a long-term commitment, and it should be something to aspire to throughout the life of your business.

2. Instructive: As your North Star, your purpose statement should provide insights on how to make progress toward your company’s aspirational goals.

3. Relevant: Your purpose must be relevant to your customers, your employees, and your services or products.

4. Multilevel: The purpose can’t just work on a macro level (i.e., big initiatives). You want it to relate to everyday concerns as well.

5. Timeless: Your purpose should look backward and forward by building on your strengths to make you relevant in the future. Just as your goals should be unattainable, the values represented in the purpose statement should stand the test of time.

Directors need more than competitive products or services to weather market shifts and evolving consumer behavior — they need a purpose beyond profits. If your company’s mission statement seems a little long in the tooth, you should probably give it a fresh coat of paint. Use these five elements to refine your purpose statement into a unified vision that will push your company forward for years to come.

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