companies mission statement

Mantras, Maxims, and Mission Statements

It’s all very confusing. Mantras. Maxims, Mission Statements. What role do they play in business communications? More important, what do companies, need and why?

Mantras, according to Guy Kawasaki in his book Reality Check, are “three or four words that explain why your product, service, or company should exist.” The famous ones Kawasaki cites are from Nike: authentic athletic performance and eBay: democratize ecommerce. Another well-known mantra comes from real estate: location, location, location. Or in business marketing: communicate, communicate, communicate. While these might be catchy or memorable phrases do they really help companies engage and inspire their employees to do their best? Do they appeal to customers in a way that builds loyalty and repeat business? Probably not.

Nike tick logo

Maxims are fundamental principles or rules of conduct. They are the “truisms” we live by, the ones we relate to and remember. Oxford Dictionaries define maxims as “short, pithy statements” like mottos, sayings, adages that endure over time. You’ve heard them before, “No pain, no gain” or “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” One of my favorites is “Nothing happens until someone sells something,” or this common sense statement, “The more people who know about your company, the more business you will generate.” While these may be accurate, they also lack the ability to motivate.

Mission statements, as defined by Wikipedia, are statements that describe the “purpose of a company, organization or person.” The good ones are easy to remember, but more importantly, they articulate a “calling” or a deep-seeded passion. They express the company’s contribution to and distinction in the marketplace. Beyond that, mission statements bring people together to achieve a common goal, promote teamwork, enhance morale, and often set the standard for acceptable behavior. The mission statement is the foundation upon which the company is built.

Here are some examples of corporate mission statements:

  • Lowe’s – “We will provide customer-valued solutions with the best prices, products and services to make Lowe’s the first choice for home improvement.”
  • Wal-Mart – “We save people money so they can live better.”
  • Amazon “Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
  • Disney – “The mission of the Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”

What do you think? Do these mission statements do the job? Do they communicate the right story to achieve their organizations’ growth goals and ensure long-term marketplace success? Does yours?

This page was last edited on July 3, 2016.