Unified brand messaging and a well-defined brand personality are among your business’s most valuable assets. It all starts with a statement of the organization’s vision and mission (sometimes combined into a brand purpose) and a statement of brand values.
Building a Brand Playbook
Before we begin, Mission, Vision, Values, and Brand Purpose statements can be stand-alone documents, but it is our practice to incorporate them into a Brand Playbook.
A brand playbook (a collection of communications guidelines for your brand) is one of the best ways to empower everyone in your organization to keep your business communication “on brand.” We have a process and workflow that has helped our clients achieve best-in-class results. You can learn more about it here.
That said, almost every brand playbook starts with a statement of the organization’s vision and mission (sometimes combined into a brand purpose) and a statement of brand values. So, let’s get started.
Every brand playbook starts with a vision statement. What does success look like? What does the brand aspire to? A useful vision statement clearly articulates the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of a brand.
Example Vision Statements:
- Walmart: “Be the destination for customers to save money, no matter how they want to shop.”
Starbucks: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
The Coca-Cola Company: “Our vision is to craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet.”
One easy way to guide your thought process is to think of a vision statement as the “what” in the context of “who, what, when, where, why, and how.”
After creating a vision statement, it is traditional to jump right into the crafting of a mission statement. You can certainly skip to the next section and do that, but I like to craft my mission statements in the context of how the organization makes money. If a vision statement is the “what,” a mission statement is the “how,” and before I ask everyone to march in the same direction, I like to be sure that the mission we state is accretive to the business.
If you’re having trouble understanding the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement, you’re not alone. Even the world’s biggest companies play fast and loose with the definitions of these two documents. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but I like to think of it as follows: “I will become the Dragon Warrior and bring peace to the valley” is a vision statement. “I will train relentlessly so that I can become the Dragon Warrior” is a mission statement.
A quick way to start a mission statement is to make a sentence by combining the following: What do we do, whom do we do it for, why do we do it, how do we do it, and how do we move forward.
Example Mission Statements:
- Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Walmart: “To save people money so they can live better.”
Nike: “Our mission is, To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Instead of classical mission statements, some brands elect to state a brand purpose. It is an equally valid approach, and depending on how it is crafted, a brand purpose may be a more meaningful way to inspire your team. A typical brand purpose statement describes how the world will be different or better because your brand exists.
Example Brand Purpose Statements:
- The Ford Motor Company: “We are once again working to revolutionize mobility, fueled by new challenges and creating solutions to build a better world for everyone.”
Sony: “Fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology.”
The Coca-Cola Company: “Refresh the world. Make a difference.”
Without being too harsh here, let’s just say clarity is key. Are Sony employees really aspiring to fill the world with emotion? What emotion? How are Coca-Cola employees supposed to “make a difference?” What difference are they supposed to make?
Craft your brand purpose in a way that inspires and instructs. Ford Motor Company has it right. Ford is working to revolutionize mobility, is embracing new challenges, and will create solutions that will help build a better world for everyone. Good stuff.
Listing brand values sounds like an easy job. You just describe what your brand believes in and the principles that will guide its operation. It’s super easy to list value words like Teamwork, Integrity, Respect, High Performance, etc. Don’t do this. It is a waste of time. Instead, think about what these words mean in the context of your organization and define them. For example, here are a few terms from The Palmer Group’s Values Statement:
- Honesty – we always tell it like we see it.
- Service – we strive to give our clients best-in-class experiences.
- Expertise – we know and use the products we speak about.
- Education – we are full-time students and we strive to be great teachers.
It’s easy to just list some value words, but taking the time to clearly define your core values will yield the best results (especially when you use them to help build your brand’s tone of voice and brand personality).
What About That Brand Playbook?
There are several additional components to a brand playbook including product insights, cultural insights, competitive insights, definitions of target audiences, product benefits, customer value propositions, and more. In success, a brand playbook will become the centerpiece of your business communication. If you’re interested in building a world-class brand playbook, please fill in the form below.
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Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.