Did you know that copywriters are also translators? We often have to turn gobbledygook into English.

Last week, for example, I helped a multinational firm rewrite its mission, vision and brand values.

Having worked in these areas a few times now, I’ve noticed common mistakes: lots of long paragraphs full of long words, clichés and bland thoughts.

A company’s goals, visions, mission and brand values should inspire. But so often the writing seems calculated to send readers to sleep.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that these mission statements and brand values are written by committees. And the writers don’t consider the needs of their readers.

My advice to anyone writing mission statements and brand values is:

  • Always consider the effect your words will have on the reader
  • Keep your writing simple. Try, if you can, to use only one sentence for each brand value.
  • Make it clear, especially for your employees’ sakes, what your company stands for, where it’s trying to get to, and how they’re expected to act on the way there.
  • Consider the words you use carefully. ‘Quality’ and ‘innovation’ are clichés. Many companies use them for their values. Instead, choose more memorable words.
  • Write to inspire and enthuse

If you need a good example to follow, try Coca-Cola’s Mission Statement:

“The Coca-Cola Promise: The Coca-Cola Company exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches. The basic proposition of our business is simple, solid, and timeless. When we bring refreshment, value, joy and fun to our stakeholders, then we successfully nurture and protect our brands, particularly Coca-Cola. That is the key to fulfilling our ultimate obligation to provide consistently attractive returns to the owners of our business.” (From Jeffrey Abrahams’ 101 Mission Statements From Top Companies)

With clear, simple communications like that, your company could go a long way too.

2 replies
  1. Steven H
    Steven H says:

    “Consider the words you use carefully. ‘Quality’ and ‘innovation’ are clichés. Many companies use them for their values. Instead, choose more memorable words.”

    This never really occurred to me, but it makes a lot of sense. I definitely notice a lot of bloggers seem to regurgitate the same buzz words and advice, it’s hard to tell if they are even thinking of themselves (and if they realize it!)

  2. Dean
    Dean says:

    Steven – Thank you for your comment. I just had a quick look at your site – what an interesting assortment of articles you have there. I will return soon for a longer read.

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