3D illustration of a company mission statement with blur effect and many positive words surrounding the main text

Messaging is critical to getting your point across.  While executives and their teams talk about the importance of powerful messaging, many people don’t really understand what messages are.  One of the biggest misperceptions is that the Mission Statement IS the message.

It is easy to see why they might think this way.   Many companies and nonprofit organizations will spend months refining their mission statement as part of strategic planning. They engage in mission wrestling, sometimes painful discussions of identity and purpose, especially as the environment changes rapidly.  The process to develop a mission statement becomes the crucible through which a great deal of organizational blood, sweat and tears flow. Once completed, leaders and their teams cling to it, believing that their mission is their message.

The Difference between Mission and Message

Mission or Vision statements tell you why you exist, what your organization is on earth to do.  Messages explain and amplify why that purpose matters.  Messages provide meaning to the mission.  Good messages always begin with mission, but end by tapping into emotion.

Most mission statements are too long, and frankly, aren’t that exciting.  Mission statements are like boring undergarments that make it possible for the fine tailored suit to make an impression.

Amazon’s mission is to “Build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they want to buy online.”  Their messages don’t say this directly, but instead speak about convenience; a Black Friday ad says, “Let the deals come to you.” Or the company talks about investing in drones and other technologies to bring you the things you want, faster.

McDonald’s mission is to be their customers’ “Favorite place and way to eat and drink.”  Not just a place, but a way of life.  How do their messages communicate this?  They talk about breakfast all day, they show people “Lovin’ it.”

What Makes Good Messages

The recipe for good messaging involves the following ingredients:

Appeal — Good messages connect at an emotional level.  They speak to the target’s desires, fears, hopes and dreams.

Value — They highlight what benefit the target will receive from engaging with the product or service.

Memory — They are easy to digest and remember.  What good is a message if your audience forgets it.

Repetition – You must deliver a good message again and again, day after day, year after to year. That is how it sticks.

Take a look at your messaging.  Are you mouthing a mission statement or making that mission mean something through clear and compelling messaging?