On average, organizations rebrand once every 7–10 years. Rebranding presents a unique opportunity to shed an undesirable reputation, tap into new markets, or even redefine how your customers and your employees connect with your company.
If you’re rebranding, or even establishing your brand for the first time, you should take some time to perfect your mission statement, the (hopefully) succinct paragraph that tells others what you do, why and how you do it, and for whom.
Here’s why your mission statement matters to your brand: It’s the vehicle through which the public (including prospective customers) learns who you are. If they’re confused or turned off by your mission statement, they likely won’t buy from or interact with your company.
Interestingly, your mission statement also serves an important internal purpose, letting your employees know who you are and what you stand for. The tone of your mission often dictates how your employees approach work and how they describe your company to their friends.
Don’t stress out about getting the wording just right. Research shows that the way that people connect with and interpret the statement matters much more than the words themselves. (After all, many employees would have a very tough time reciting their company’s mission statement off the top of their heads, but they certainly have an idea of the general feel of it.)
We analyzed the statements of the Fortune 50, looking for what makes a mission statement work. The average length of these highly successful companies’ mission statements was about 18 words (one long sentence or two short ones). The average readability was at the 12th-grade level, according to the Flesch-Kincaid readability test.
Meanwhile, the most common verbs were action- and care-oriented: provide, help, improve, serve, and make.
We also looked at some weak mission statements and explained how they could be improved. For example, the agricultural equipment manufacturer AGCO writes in its mission statement, “Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality, and commitment.” This statement doesn’t do much to communicate what the brand stands for. It also lacks originality.
On the other hand, online fashion and cosmetic retailer ASOS inspires prospective customers with its mission to “become the world’s number-one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings.”
Check out the infographic for a closer look at developing a mission statement that ties to your company’s brand.
Meredith Wood is a vice president at Fundera. She is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending and marketing and frequently contributes to SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, and StartupNation.