One of the most challenging and influential aspects of executive marketing is envisioning the future and setting out where any business is going. The confidence and assuredness that this knowledge can bring, is a critical factor in creating better business thanks to the widespread impact it has on people’s motivation.
Think One CEO, Alex Ridings, discusses his obsession with Christopher Nolan and why brand missioning can be critical to business and brand success.
From my experience, the phrase, ‘you become what you say you are’ always rings true; and more and more leaders are seeing how, by positively communicating why they exist, what their goals are, what their purpose is and where their vision lies, the greater the chance they have of realising their commercial and brand ambitions.
To use a metaphor: if business is a journey, then brand is its compass – and mission sits at the heart of brand.
Whilst we all recognise that no journey is straight forward or direct, by using a compass (and checking it regularly), you can stay true to your destination and reach where you want to get to. I believe the same principle applies to business. Manage the broad direction, yet be agile enough to tweak your direction as things change or when obstacles get in your way.
So, how can you frame your business and set out your brand strategy to inspire you, your team and your customers?
I believe “brand missioning” is a process leaders need to dedicate themselves to at the earliest opportunity. It has become an increasingly popular area of our agency business and is supported by our dedicated brand “Compel” team. In fact, you may recognise from your own experience, how the real challenge in this realm is seeing through the midst of emotions, perceptions and the weave of history. To address it, we need to ask the right questions. Through the knowledge gained from the often varied answers to those questions, and with some critical thinking, clarity can always be found, followed by the words to match and inspire.
Some time ago, I became mildly obsessed with a game-changing interview I heard with Christopher Nolan, the highly acclaimed film director. The revelation was hearing how one of the consistent challenges he faces in every production venture is staying true to his vision. To address this, he has a process on every film. He sits down and pens a long paragraph narrative that clearly frames what the destination point of the film is. What has driven him to do this is a recognition that it can be very easy to get lost or diverted along the way. This is a tool he regularly returns to along the journey to help ensure he and his team remain true to the essence of the movie, helping to achieve the promised result they planned for, and others had – quite literally – bought into. It is not difficult to understand why it is needed, as a film is really a business operation, albeit a creative one requiring myriad inputs and outputs. The operational process is complex and diversionary at times, and the plethora of creative or commercial decisions they make each day impacts what is achieved, what happens next and where they progress to. This makes it easy to get off course.
This process-like approach, even in such a creative venture, struck me as having a direct parallel to business, and in particular, brand marketing. All too often I recognise how businesses can get lost, dimmish even and suffer from not being focused on their mission.
With an age now spent at the sharp end of marketing and branding, I am confident (based on the large portfolio of customers that trust us as custodians of their brands) that some wisdom has hopefully been gained. If I were asked for the one piece of advice I would have for any business owner, it would be – get mission focused! It will get you where you want to be faster.
Two Other Benefits to Getting Mission Focussed
There are several other compelling reasons why mission is such a constructive and valuable tool for any ambitious business. The first being how setting out your stall publicly through your mission can help you shape your desired culture and attract the right candidates and hires to your business. It can also help you retain talent, with individuals and teams feeling emotionally drawn and tied to your vision and wanting to be an integral part of that.
The second is the wider internal affect it can have in helping focus teams and the key cultural architects within a business to make better decisions; specifically, those aligned with the goals of the business. For complex businesses it can make great sense for teams, divisions and partners themselves to create their own aligned mission statements that are more specific to their function and responsibility within the business, leading again to a quicker route to success.