The punch list for starting a company always includes vision, mission and value statements that express the intent and underlying beliefs of the organization. Rarely does it include the brand position – but it should. Here’s why.
Whereas the first three statements reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders to build something, they do not address how the company will differentiate itself competitively. That is the job of the brand position and it is a major reason the brand needs to be a part of the corporate strategy from day one.
In my work as a brand consultant, I often get involved with companies who are at a crossroads about their identity. They have outgrown the original focus, merged with other entities, expanded into new markets, or otherwise made changes that cloud the picture of who they are.
Often times, the brand development process provides so much clarity of purpose, the company subsequently writes or rewrites its vision and mission statements so everything points in the same direction. That is a clear sign the brand position needs to be the fourth mandatory corporate statement for managing a business and creating a strong culture.
The four essential corporate statements
Most of us are familiar with vision, mission and value statements, but it can be a little unclear how yet another corporate statement – the brand position – might fit in. So here is a brief description of each type of statement and how it relates to the brand:
The most effective vision statement presents a description of the world as it would exist if the organization were to succeed in achieving its grandest aspirations. It is inspirational, clear, memorable and concise. And it helps give the brand meaning and purpose.
Mission statements can be duller than a prehistoric kitchen knife if you let them. It’s no wonder they rarely make a public appearance once written. But, at its best, a mission statement is an effective expression of an organization’s reason for existence and provides the story behind the brand.
The values are principles that define how employees will conduct business as they pursue the vision and execute the mission. Companies that actively promote, discuss and reinforce their values internally create a culture that can deliver the brand promise to the market.
The brand position defines the organization’s distinction in the market – its competitive edge. It is the only one of the four statements that is driven by market needs and competitive differentiation, so having it is critical to the success of the organization.
Case study: Tesla
Tesla is an interesting example because it has evolved its business strategy in pursuit of its brand. It turns out that building the ultimate electric car brand involves a significant investment in the solar power and battery storage technology businesses. Here are how their four corporate statements inspire Tesla’s purpose and build the brand:
Tesla’s vision is to create a world without carbon emission vehicles. Is this achievable? It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that people who share that vision believe it is something worth pursuing.
Tesla originally intended to eliminate carbon emission vehicles by accelerating “the world’s transition to sustainable transport”. In 2016, the company replaced the word “transport” with “energy” to reflect how its development of battery technology and solar power were critical to the mission. Both support the brand but reflect the evolving strategy for getting there.
“Move fast. Do the impossible. Constantly innovate. We are ALL IN.” These are just four of the six corporate values that help employees understand how they need to approach their jobs to make the company successful. All the Tesla values are infused with energy and passion for the cause. That makes for an inspired brand.
“An electric car without compromises.” It’s beautiful. It’s fast. It’s clean. And the constant flow of customer data is driving further innovation. No other company is as focused on this goal as Tesla.
The brand position is essential
The essence of the Brand Incite philosophy is the brand strategy is a required element of corporate success. No matter the size of company, industry, or business model.
By adding the brand position as the fourth essential corporate statement, organizations will not only be able to define what drives them but will also be able to pinpoint what will help them win. After all, isn’t that why you are in business?