Thursday, February 19, 2009

The proverbial song book

For better or for worse, the fad of Mission Statement reengineering appears to have subsided. I've observed that fewer CEO's are handing out translucent bricks engraved with the company creed today than they did in the 1990's.

Which may indeed be a good thing. It was my experience that Mission Statements and Brand Positioning Statements were rarely in alignment. As any mom will tell you, 'there are consequences for your choices', and when those choices lead to misalignment, business results decline.


A good mission statement rallies the stakeholders to a common cause. Most frequently, that cause is centered on 'providing exceptional value for our customers' or 'meeting customer needs'. Mission Statements often are a strong reminder that business success is largely determined by the will of its customers.

Most brand positioning statements acknowledge a similar fact. As industry leader Microsoft says in their current ad campaign, 'our customers own our brand'. I might quibble with the semantics,
but for the sake of this discussion, the ownership ideal provides for perfect alignment between the Mission statement and the Positioning statement.

In truth, the brand positioning statement is a very different thing than a simple recognition of brand ownership. When we position, we choose a side. We are no longer ubiquitous in expressing customer satisfaction. Rather, we are deductive.

"For (x) group of people, (y) represents the best product/service value, because of (z)."

So Myrtle Beach's Mission Statement for the Visitor's bureau might read 'providing exceptional customer value for beach vacationers', while the brand positioning statement characterizes the destination as 'affordable fun in the sand for people living on a budget'. Again, alignment.

The challenge of course is that in declaring a side, the Marketing Director risks offending a constituency. For instance, what about the golf course managers, or the amusement ride operators, or the restaurant and retail establishments? Where is their skin in the game? So in an effort to be true to all of Myrtle Beach various stakeholders, the Marketing Director opens the door to a broader vacation platform through a new extended position: "An affordable family vacation that provides fun for everyone, even when the beach is only one part of your travel plans."

In turn, the Executive Director of MBVCB might alter the Mission Statement: "Providing exceptional vacation value for our visitors -- on the sand, or on the land."

This then suggests to the Marketing Director that a further refinement need be made to the brand positioning: "Myrtle Beach is an affordable family vacation destination that provides fun for every member in the family: from beach balls, to golf balls, to high balls."

Bottom line, your Mission Statement and your Positioning Statement should always remain in alignment. When they aren't, your internal actions are at risk of being out of step with your customers expectations.

If this misalignment occurred at Myrtle Beach, the result would be a very happy group of hotel owners ... in Daytona Beach.

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