Like many who were blessed to work in the robust culture that entrepreneur Ewing Kauffman built in a pharmaceutical company once called Marion Laboratories, I benefited from two core values: First, treat others as you would want to be treated, and, second, share the rewards of performance with those who contribute.
Eighteen years later, these simple rules still roll off my tongue easily. This came to mind recently when talking with a client who recited the mission of one of her former employers, in similar fashion – one, two.
Memorable. Brief. Simple.
These qualities, surely, are what make a great corporate mission, value statement or brand. So ad jingles and rhymes about cereals and sodas echo around in our heads decades later. We remember the guiding principles of our long-past employers. Colors and shapes call to our minds names of companies: Coca-Cola, Dow, BP.
And how about investor relations?
Do we give the market memorable, brief and simple messages?
Or do we describe our companies as a complicated matrix of market segments and product categories? A “portfolio” of services and technologies? A graphic collection of boxes crisscrossed with arrows?
And our business strategies: 18 points? Four categories with multiple strategies for each? Changing formulations quarter by quarter?
We should try to boil our companies down to a corporate brand – a few words that are memorable, brief and simple. A reason to invest. Can we capture the essence in two points, or one? A half-dozen words?