A key requirement for companies is to define and refine their corporate purpose. While a firm’s products and the market may change, the central mission statement should be clear.
A study into corporate communications by the London Business School found many companies may need to rethink how they convey their fundamental aim. This is crucial, not just for bringing in new customers, but also for keeping the staff on board.
John Lewis is a good example of a company that does it well. It has continually focused on its reputation for customer service and competitive pricing.
According to the LBS study, companies need to consider the following areas:
1. Ensure your strategy is deliverable. One good example is Nestlé, whose core message has always been about creating science-based products. Those products have evolved yet its message remains largely intact.
2. Be specific. Feelings and emotions don’t count. German software company SAP uses the tagline “Help the World Run Better”. In itself it means little, until you take into account that its products aim to reduce waste.
3. Evolution is continual, so don’t be afraid to change. If your strategy is based on out-of-date products and perceptions, it is time to move on.
4. Your corporate purpose is not the same as marketing strategy. LBS offers the example of Unilever. Although it produces a number of successful products, the company lacked a defined overall purpose (such as that of Nestlé, above). As a result, Unilever hit upon the strategy of sustainable living. This ran alongside a corporate message about doubling the size of its business mixed with the aims of helping more than one billion people to improve their health and well-being and halving its environmental footprint.
5. Lastly, staff need to be brought on board. John Lewis is a prime example of this. Ultimately they are the customer-facing end of what the company stands for.
Companies are expected to define themselves in terms of their aims and where they stand. It is no longer enough just to sell things and make money for the shareholders. It is time to define the message and get it out there. Content marketing can make this happen.