Culture may be intangible but it’s a potent energy force. Not only does culture have a huge impact on employee morale, productivity and retention, it also has a direct bearing on the customer experience and brand reputation. For instance, an organisation’s culture is evident in the standard of customer service and product quality you receive, and these experiences shape your perception of that organisation.
In my work I’ve come across a diverse array of definitions and criteria used for developing the key culture pillars of purpose, vision, mission and principles. I’ve noticed that when there is a lack of clarity between the concepts, it can result in culture statements sounding the same or lacking meaning, often leading to misunderstanding, confusion and disengagement by staff.
In this article, I share my views on the distinctions between these vital corporate culture pillars which feed directly into your brand positioning, marketing messages and employee value proposition.
PURPOSE – your brand’s ‘why’
Your purpose answers the question ‘why do we exist?
Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’ concept is a simple yet powerful way of discovering purpose by exploring the ‘why’ (higher purpose cause) behind the ‘what’ (your product/service) and the ‘how’ (your methods and processes) of your business.
The most powerful ‘whys’ are connected to a higher purpose and are an expression of love – not the romantic kind of love but a version of love that improves people’s lives in some way and moves humanity forward.
Love can be expressed in different ways through your ‘why’, depending on the contribution and impact you make on people’s lives through your work. For example, your ‘why’ may be connected with creating self-esteem, community connectedness, confidence, belonging, peace of mind, autonomy, empowerment, joy and wellbeing.
VISION – your brand’s ‘what’
Your vision answers the question ‘what outcome are we aiming to achieve?’.
A vision is an aspirational, future-oriented, outward-facing statement about the big picture difference you seek to make in the lives of those whom you serve or the world more generally, because of your contributions. Here are some examples:
Notice these visions are definitive end states. An aspirational end state could be a place…, a world…, a community…, a legacy…, a benchmark…, a state of being….
MISSION – your brand’s ‘how’
Your mission answers the question ‘how are we going to get there?’.
A mission is an inspirational, now-oriented statement about what you’ll do exceptionally well every day in delivering on your purpose and in pursuit of your vision. Here’s some examples:
Unlike a vision which is an end state destination, a mission is the journey.
PRINCIPLES – your brand’s ‘who’
Your principles answer the question ‘who are we being in pursuit of our vision?‘.
Principles are the non-negotiable core values that guide our thinking, decisions and actions.
For example, in line with its mission to save our home planet, Patagonia’s core values reflect the minimalist lifestyles of its climb-and-surf-loving founders:
Beloved brands and great reputations are built on positive cultures nurtured by purpose-driven leaders and engaged staff giving a great customer experience. Take care of culture.
©Ros Weadman 2022 Ros Weadman empowers purpose-driven leaders and organisations to strategically-align their brand, increase their visibility and enhance their reputation so they can lead their industry and shape the future. Ros’s new book ‘Enhance Your Reputation’ is out now. Order your copy here.
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