When building a brand platform for the corporate brand, there are several documents which may have already been created as part of a strategic business plan which should also be part of the brand platform.
And as a corollary, many enlightened companies will have incorporated the brand platform into the strategic plan.
After all, branding is, first and foremost, a strategic activity.
So when I suggest the brand platform should contain the corporate mission statement, vision statement, values statement and positioning statement, it is possible they already exist. But if not and your company has not addressed those statements, I’ll define and differentiate them here so there’ll be no confusion as to the function of each and how each affects the corporate brand.
Mission statement: This is the basic purpose of the business (or the entity in the case of non-profits). It has no “numbers” attached. It’s why the business was founded (or is being founded) in the first place.
Vision statement: The vision statement set the direction for future actions. It is the guidepost for making decisions about new products, services, projects. Do new “opportunities” comply with the direction, strength and temperament of the company? This statement is also a motivator within the organization. It usually states a compelling image of the desired future.
Values statement: This is a statement of the principles that are held most dear by the leaders. They are guidelines to how employees must comport themselves. It might take the form of a code of ethics, a bill of customer rights, a promise to stakeholders. It is an expression of how the company will do business.
Positioning statement: This is the way the company will differentiate its operations, products, services from its competitors. It is an expression of the strengths and competencies it will bring to bear in behalf of their stakeholders, particularly customers and prospects. Together, these statements should also reflect the company’s “culture”
In each case, the statement will probably be more than a single sentence. In fact each may take as much as a page. Each should be comprehensive and reflect the many facets of a business, all of which will affect or be affected by the brand.
All four should be freely distributed to all employees, suppliers, investors and other stakeholders. They should be expressed publicly in annual reports, speeches and press releases.
These four statements will provide a basis for the development of the various branding elements into a comprehensive and consistent brand identity. It indicates the “boundaries” that creative suppliers and consultants must adhere to for the good of the brand.
The first three are independent of competition and market needs in that they are generated from within the company. They will usually reflect the founder’s vision, the strengths and drivers inherent in the organization, the values the leaders believe to be their ethical base and brand promise.
Together, these four elements will comprise what is generally known as the “corporate culture”. And because that culture is so ingrained and basic, it is often hard to define and characterize for those within its confines.
So much of any culture, be it corporate or social, is transparent to those within. So it is often best to get the perspective of wise people from outside the organization to point out the important characteristics of the existing corporate culture.
This may be a comprehensive research project, or it could just be keeping the pulse of the stakeholders through monitoring Internet sites concerned with the company’s industry.
However it’s collected and analyzed, those gathering the insights within the company need to be as impartial and realistic as possible even though there is danger of being the messenger who gets shot.
But having a clear picture of your corporate culture, together with the statements of intent concerning mission, vision, values and position, are vital aspects of the brand platform. It’s vital because only a true exhibit of the culture will lead to credibility, trust and ultimately, long-lasting relationships with customer evangelists.