An Identity to Aspire Toward

Aug 10, 2016 Posted by Craig Joseph in Anatomy of a Motto

When we begin working with a company, business, or organization to help develop a brand and identity, we pay as much attention to the words that are being spoken / written and how they’re being conveyed (“the voice” of the client) as we do to the visual aspects of the identity, like the logo, brand colors, and photography style.

One of the things we find is that many clients don’t have a strong verbal articulation of their identity – what they are about and what makes them distinctive: no tagine or motto statement, not even a corporate mission, vision and value statement. Sometimes, it’s because they’ve never had an internal conversation about what exactly makes them distinctive. That’s a business strategy problem. More often than not, though, they’re just a bit intimidated to write something up because they’re not sure how, or what exactly it should accomplish. That’s an identity problem – and one with which Cassel Bear can assist. Here’s a quick cheat sheet to guide your efforts or at least get you brainstorming before you consult with our staff.

 

A TAGLINE

  • Should be short and pithy – 6-7 words
  • Should be easily memorable and repeatable
  • Is often a good place for clever wordplay or puns or double meanings
  • Should aim for a lengthy shelf life
  • Needs to be the best distillation of what you’re about – how much can you say in fewest words
  • Needs to be considered visually / incorporated alongside your logo
  • Is primarily external facing – for your clients

 

A MISSION STATEMENT

  • Works best in one sentence or phrase, if you can get it down to that
  • It’s about WHAT YOU DO – the major activity that drives your business or organization on a day to do basis
  • Should include a sense of “why” you do what you do
  • Generally considered to be internally-facing – helps make decisions based on how options further or don’t further the mission

 

A VISION STATEMENT

  • Works best in one sentence or phrase, if you can get it down to that
  • It’s about WHAT YOU HOPE FOR – the thing that will be accomplished if your business or organization successfully executes its mission or exceeds all its goals
  • Should be aspirational, meaning it’s something you aspire to, but which is perhaps out of reach – a bit of a dream – the thing you will always be working toward in a hopeful manner
  • May need to be re-written if you someday accomplish your vision
  • As opposed to the mission statement, is written to be inspirational and less brass tacks – it’s a bit more connotative, rather than denotative
  • Generally continued to be internally-facing – helpful in catalyzing and inspiring employees and setting measurable goals

 

VALUES

  • Should number about 5-6 if you really want to live them out well – more than that gets a bit unwieldy
  • This is WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN – the core tenets that undergird everything you do
  • Taken together, your values should indicate how you do your mission distinctively and differently than anyone else in the field
  • Should only make the list if it’s something you can carry out without reproach
  • Again, primarily internal-facing to use as a barometer or gauge to measure your efforts against

 

A MOTTO STATEMENT

  • Is the public-facing combination of your mission, vision, and values
  • Should be about 2-3 sentences in length
  • Should use slightly heightened or “sexy” language, as it’s the elevator pitch you’d give to someone if you only had a captive audience for 30 seconds
  • Should be emblazoned on all your print and digital materials
  • Can be considered alongside your tagline to see if they play well together – a motto can often expand upon the tagline as the next articulation of what you’re about

 

Want to keep this Identity Cheat Sheet close to your desk? You can download it by clicking on the earlier link.

 

 

 


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