Mission statements and mantras

Mission statements are essential. “Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing (your mission), where you’re trying to go (your vision), and how you’re going to go about it (your values) are the glue that holds an organization together.” Variations on this theme appear on dozens of Dear-Abby-for-entrepreneur pages, and it’s certainly helpful to take stock of your value proposition and the direction you’re heading.

Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist of Canva (a position he also held at Apple), prefers mantras to mission statements. In Art of the Start, he contrasts the mission statements of Southwest Airlines, Wendy’s, and Coca-Cola to hypothetical mantras.

Guy-Kawasaki-1000x750-00014

Guy Kawasaki in New Zealand, listening to a J.R.R. Tolkien audiobook.

Mantras, by the way, embrace brevity, positivity, and are consumer-centric (rather than self-serving). For Southwest, Kawasaki indicates that “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit” might be reduced to “better than driving.”

Hmm … I’m not sure that’s fair, especially since he distinguishes mantras, which serve employees, from tag lines, which draw in customers. Plus, “better than driving” doesn’t really emphasize the positive.

For my colleagues in small businesses and ventures, I imagine their work and success as following this mantra-like equation:

Compassion * (Patience + Persistence) = Power

Here are a few of my hot takes for the bigger companies.

Burger King“offer reasonably priced quality food, served quickly, in attractive, clean surroundings.” Or: fast dining done right. 

Subway: “To provide the tools and knowledge to allow entrepreneurs to compete successfully in the Fast Food industry worldwide, by consistently offering value to consumers through providing great tasting food that is good for them and made the way they want it.” Or: “Made-to-order meals that are healthy and delicious.”  

Adidas: “The Adidas Group strives to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle. We are committed to continuously strengthening our brands and products to improve our competitive position.” Or: “My passion. My performance. My Adidas.” 

I like the two-syllable “passion” first, and then the parallel cadence of “my performance” and “my Adidas.” “My Adidas” also evokes the eternally cool Run DMC and their hit “My Adidas.” And the Adidas logos are also divided into three parts. (I prefer the original on the left to the 1997 update on the right.)

adidas-logo-evolution-trefoil adidas-logo-evolution-1997

For Adidas, I think this mantra might work as a tag line, too. Like athletes, employees take pride in their performances.

Thanks for the read!

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