I was sitting in our lobby looking at the sign that points people to our office. Under our logo was a tag line that said financial strategies for life. If you look at our new logo you will see our mission statement of we make our Clients lives better. This started me thinking about the difference between a tag line and a mission statement.
A tag line is a nice idea that makes people or could make people feel good about a company or a product. For example, General Electric had a tag line that was we bring good things to life. This could have been a mission statement, but instead it became a tag line for the company.
Our tag line sort of told you what we did, but it was something I could never remember nor could anyone else in our firm. It also really didn’t help much to help the stakeholders in our firm have an understanding of what we’re about.
On the other hand, a mission statement could be mistaken for a tag line. The big exception with a mission statement is it is mindfully integrated into everything the company does. In our case, every conversation we have with our Clients is around how we can make their life better. The mission statement can also be answered with a simple yes or no on whether you are following through on the implicit promise in your mission.
I find that mission statements tend to have one or more of the following mistakes:
- The mission statement is too long and no one can remember it.
- The mission statement can’t be answered with a yes or no. It often looks more like a tag line.
- The mission statement is put together and then never used in a conversation with any stakeholder of the company.
- The mission statement looks like a horse built by committee (a camel), or in other words it doesn’t say anything.
- The people who work in the company do not support the mission statement.
Make sure that your mission is short, but not a tag line. The easy way to know whether which one you’ve got is to ask whether it can be answered with a yes or no and is easily integrated in everything in your company.
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