HOW TO BUILD A ROBUST BRAND VISION, MISSION, VALUES, AND STORY.
Every business starts with a purpose to begin with; a vision that jumpstarted in the mind of the founder and turbocharged by his imagination.
A business that lacks a clear and robust purpose is a business that lacks a solid core; it might look shiny on the outside but still fragile on the inside.
This business will lack structures and meaning; and one day or the other, when cash is tight when people’s morals get weaken, this business will collapse and get knocked down on its knees.
Oh wow, that was heavy talk, let’s tone down our language and simplify things.
For you to grasp the concept of a brand purpose, let’s do simple experimentation, shall we?
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of nothing but one question.
What is the purpose of your life?
It’s a very deep question indeed, but I just want you for a moment to close your eyes and honestly think about it.
Why do you do the things you do on a daily basis? Why do you go to work? Why do you want to make more money? Why do you want to accomplish specific things? Why do you keep working on your business even after you know that there might be a chance of losing it all?
Keep asking yourself “WHY” until you reach the essence of what you are doing.
What is your purpose? And why do you want it?
Are you doing it for the sake of your self-interest and benefit, or to serve someone else? There is no right or wrong answer, there is just a difference in the mindset and end-goal.
Let’s get back to where we began, so you want to start a new business, or already have a business, and somehow you are not making enough profit, you find it challenging to sell your ideas and leadership to your customers, stakeholders, and your staff, which makes it difficult to scale your business to the next level, am I close enough?
In this article, I will take you through the process of clarifying the message and purpose of your brand and make you a stronger persuasive communicator.
However, for you to be clear with your business, don’t expect things to happen overnight, it might take a few seconds, few days, a month, or even a year; it all depends on where you are at in the process of your business, consider it as a journey of discovery, rather than a simple exercise than you can finish in a couple of minutes.
Also, keep in mind that there is no point in doing anything if you are not willing to lead by doing, rather than leading by talking, we are not here to create vision, mission, and value statements to hang on the wall, show to our friends, and feel good about ourselves, those are empty words with no meaning.
Instead, we want to have clarity of mind; we want it to be simple and direct so we can act on it and then communicate it consistently with our customers, staff, shareholders, and most importantly, to always remind ourselves why we are in business in the first place.
Let’s think a little bit like a country leader; if I ask you to be a leader of a group of people that will exist and flourishes for the next thousand years, how would you approach your leadership strategy?
Would you think in terms of short-term benefits and small ideas, or will you be bold and futuristic? You know that these ideas are your vision for the next thousand years, it’s a vision for a nation, not a vision for looking for a job.
You see, a vision statement is not just a statement that you just come up with; it’s something that defines the direction and purpose of your business.
A prominent business leader is someone who looks at his environment, looks for current problems, sees opportunities then envision a better future and transformation.
He understands that it’s his job to put his business on the right path and to focus. Otherwise, there are thousands, if not millions of ways for his business to get distracted and be all over the place.
Questions to consider while crafting your business vision
What problem do you see right now that needs to be solved immediately?
What transformational solutions and opportunities could be developed for the future?
What is the scale of the problem, and how does it impact your customers? How difficult and painful it’s? Can you provide facts and numbers or visual evidence?
Are there any other organizations addressing this problem right now? And if yes, who are they? How are they doing it? What did you learn from their failures and success?
How does your vision transform, improve, and move customers’ from frustration to an effective outcome?
Now let’s change your role a bit and assume that you are the general in command and you are hired to execute the vision of your president. How would you do it?
A mission statement is a simple and shortened statement of business strategy, it’s not a business goal, but it’s well-defined steps and actions on a specific area that describes what the business should execute and focus on.
Think of a mission statement as something that you can change over time, the more you move forward, and the market evolves. Your mission and focus of execution will change and evolve along.
Your vision statement should set the foundation, big picture, and direction of where your business is heading, while your mission statement should set the critical steps to focus on and follow to reach that vision.
Now let me be clear on a few things; you might see large corporations set vast visions such as being the largest, the fastest, and so on. Good for them; they got all the resources to reach that vision, and they are pretty vague, anyway.
On the other hand, for us as small business owners we want to be more practical, we need to come up with things that we can communicate simply and easily with our staff members, and ordinary customers, tangible things and we can accomplish.
They can be relatively big and ambitious, but not overly exaggerated that we lose touch in making sense of them, that’s a recipe for giving up and misery.
Remember that talking and planning are easy and fast but doing the work, takes a lot of focus and effort, if you keep changing your strategy all the time, moving from left-to-right back and forth, you got no clear directions, stretching yourself way-too- thin, going nowhere, then it’s a game over.
Another mistake to be careful about is that many small businesses get stuck in the process of writing and defining their vision and mission instead of focusing on the clarity of their goals.
Following templates and vague rules, trying to copy other companies without spending the time digging deep inside why they started in the first place.
There are no specific theories and 5 steps to follow, there is clarity of direction or no clarity, it’s as simple as white and black, you wether see it, or you do not, sometimes it comes after being in business for few years and sometimes you just observe the market and realize where to head to.
I can not come up with a vision or mission statement for your business, neither a consultant nor an agency, we can fabricate one for you, we can only help you clarify things so you can figure it out.
To be frank with you, I don’t know your business well enough; I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of your market as you must have; I don’t understand your team as you are the leader, neither any outsider, this job should come straight out from you.
All that we can do is to help you define and sharpen it, but if you have no clue about your purpose in business in the first place, don’t expect someone else does, after all, it’s your business, not ours.
Questions to consider while crafting your business mission:
What do you need to accomplish to make your vision come true?
What are the resources, people, relationships, and processes required to accomplish what you want?
What are the necessary steps required to be taken in the next year to move you forward toward your vision?
Brand Values and principles
Imagine a world without human values, a world where human respect does not exist, a world that lacks credibility, trust, love, and transparency, a society where people don’t value excellence, innovation, and talent.
It’s not very difficult to imagine, surf through the internet, and read news about some third-world countries’ leadership and see how ethically broke they are, observe how they lack strong, ethical, and transparent leadership, and learn how that affects the progress of their people lives.
I had the opportunity to travel and live in different countries around the world, and one thing I can tell you for sure, it’s the values system of society that determines its fate.
First-world countries and great companies are first for a reason. The founders of those organizations spent significant time and effort on setting the right values and rules for their nations to flourish.
Unlike uncivilized countries or poorly run businesses, they operate with no values and ethics; they follow the basic rules of humans’ nature and desires, and that is why they are doomed to fail in our modern world.
Your brand values are the core pillars of your business, how would your employees treat each other, how would they treat your customers, and respect the overall quality of your business.
It’s your brand values that define your business culture, great culture is pre-designed to build for success, a weak and vague culture is programmed to self-destroy and diminish.
The right culture with the correct values and principles will always outperform a business with a pile of cash, but crappy values and policies in the long run.
Values are learned from human philosophy, religions, cultures, great thinkers of our history, they also could be learned by observing how great countries and businesses strive.
Every brand starts with a purpose and a story, a story that tells the beginning of a dream, the dream of you starting this business.
Unlike a vision or a mission statement, a brand story combines your passion, culture, values, and believes all together wrapped into emotional words, visuals, and music that connects with your audience on a more profound and personal level.
Almost every exciting story is structured to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, great stories start with a dream or a vision and a hope for a brighter future, or a pain of frustration of an existing problem or situation.
The story describes how the business had to go through obstacles and learn new lessons, how the people behind the business had to learn how to adapt to sustainably and successfully serve the customer.
Realize that a great story does not position the business or the business owner as a hero or focus the spotlight on them, it rather acts as a supporting force to the real hero, which is the customer you are serving.
Remember that your customers are not business owners or entrepreneurs; they are ordinary people who are trying to solve daily problems and take pride in their lives.
You ever watched Pixar’s animation movies? Have you ever questioned why people be it, children or adults, connect with those stories? How do these movies make us cry, laugh, and get emotional?
Have you ever wondered why kids buy those characters’ toys over and over? I’m going to tell you why, It’s because they are inspiring; they aspire us to be like them, and to be a part of their universe, we want them to be with us, and we want to be around them.
It’s a part of the design and marketing strategy of the movie, that’s how they make money, not only from the movie itself but from the actions we take after watching the movie, be it buying books, merchandizes, posters, and more and that’s how a great brand should communicate its story and become more profitable.
Always remember, your business exists to serve your customers and make their lives better, everything else is irrelative, they don’t care, and if they don’t care, they are not interested, and if they are not interested, then they won’t take an action.
There are different types of stories for businesses, some take the road of talking about the starting a journey of a brand, sometimes it might be inspirational, but it seems that the more you take your customers with you into places they never been through, and make them a part of it, the more your story will have a deeper meaning and convince.
Nowadays, more brands connect their story with a purpose of a social cause; it invites the customer to be a part of something larger than themselves; it makes people feel better about themselves, this story will carry the brand into different conversations, and that’s it inspires and connects.
Every one of us has a unique voice and, and it’s our tone that will define our style and character, a brand is no different.
Your brand tone should match both the tone of your audience, the archetype of your brand, and your brand visuals, consistency is the key, it’s very confusing when someone dresses like a king and talks like a joker.
Brand culture is the sum of your brand vision, mission, and values, a culture with clear leadership, principles, and guidelines. This will set-up the foundations of how people should treat others (team members, customers) and like to be treated.
Culture is not something that you say or fake; it is a law and a set of rules that first you follow your-self, then communicate clearly and consistently with your team and customers.
A weak culture shows a lack of leadership and principles, and the result of that weakness will show up in the presentation and delivery of your product to your customers.
When your employees lack the right values or leadership, they won’t care about your business and customers. If they see that you seem to be careless, why should they care?
Realize that once they don’t care, Shit hits the fan, you lose customers, talented employees, and eventually, your business will diminish, it’s only a matter of time.
Remember that you can not blame employees for lack of clarity or mastery of execution, you are in charge, and the responsibility of setting the right expectations should always fall back on you, even if others did it, you chose to hire them in the first place.
Also, remember that the market needs will change, your products change, and your business might change, it’s through your value and principles, it’s through your vision people might stick together, even when shit hits the fan.
Every successful brand, if it’s designed carefully, will have an emotional, psychological, or financial impact someway or the other. Otherwise, what’s the point of starting it in the first place?
Successful brands aim to make people happier, healthier, wealthier, more attractive, and more confident, If your brand lacks a clear impact, then it will lack a desirable and attractive marketing message.
Brand social responsibility
Nowadays, customers care not only about goods, services, and pleasurable experiences but also care about how the brand takes a position and views on different groups and minorities.
Brands that stand behind and support social groups and causes such as gay rights, women’s rights, animals’ rights, fair wages, organic, environmentally friendly products and care about disabled people, are perceived to be more attractive, trustworthy, and reliable.
Right now, the power of the market is in the customer’s hand; if you support your customer’s cause, they will vote with their money and free word-of-mouth marketing.
Nowadays the survival or collapse of business might solely depend on the support of the brand-loyal customer base.
As you can see that throughout this article, I have put a significant emphasis on clarity, clarity of your purpose, and clarity of your direction; this clarity will make you strive in hard times and drive your business toward growth.
I have also emphasized the importance of communication, ideas that are not communicated consistently with your team, and your customers are ideas that do not exist.
Remember, this is your business, your money, your time, your resources, and your future on the line, understand that everyone around you, including your employees and your customers, mostly cares about one thing, one thing only, which is their self-interest.
A “smart” leader realizes that the vision, mission, and story should all be crafted around the people, he masterfully designs everything to fit and satisfy the needs of others, he does his best to create the best culture that works for them.
He understands that once he got those things in place; he has designed and engineered a system that is happily and willingly working to drive him toward success and more wealth.