If you read much of my stuff at all you will notice that I use the following words repeatedly:
- Company Belief Systems
These four points are the most important matter you can address in your company. Why? Because once you document them accurately you have defined your internal brand. Well written brand statements result in clarity around:
- What makes you unique
- Your marketing message
- Exactly what you do (and don’t do) in your business
- Your strategic direction.
Your next question is: how can I tell if my internal brand is well written? Short answer: If it takes AIM, it is well written.
What does it mean to take AIM? Your statements should be:
- Inspiring, and
Actionable The problem with many existing internal brand statements is that they are written to impress rather than to be useful. That is why Dilbert cartoons find them so easy to lampoon.
To be actionable internal brand statements should be informative. The average reader should be able to easily understand what actions are consistent with the statement. This means they should contain less puff and more dirt.
For example, instead of:
“We have committed to synergistically fashion high-quality products so that we may collaboratively provide access to inexpensive leadership skills in order to solve business problems” (an actual Dilbert generated mission statement.)
An actionable statement would be:
“We provide affordable leadership products to small business owners.”
Inspiring Another issue I frequently see in internal brand statements is that they are boring. I have read some that are so long and pedantic that I wonder if anyone has ever read them from beginning to end without falling asleep.
Zappos.com is one of the best examples I have seen for inspiring statements. For example, their first core value is “Deliver wow through service.” Isn’t this much more inspiring than “We provide high-quality service”?
Memorable The Zappos.com example also illustrates the final point. Not only is “Deliver wow through service” more inspiring, it’s also more memorable. Did you know that Zappos.com employees are able to recite all 10 of the company’s core values? I’m not an employee and memorization is not one of my strengths, yet on the average day I could probably paraphrase at least 3 of their core values.
Internal brand statements only create value when they are used on a daily basis to guide business decisions. They serve absolutely no purpose if no one in your company (including you?) can remember what they are.
I urge you to take out your internal brand statements now and see if they take AIM. If you are uncertain ask your employees to tell you what they say without looking. If you don’t like the results of this pop quiz or you don’t have internal brand statements, check out some more of my blog entries of just give me a call.
Have a great day!