A couple years ago I attended a “Chicago Tech on the Horizon” panel event at MATTER, in the Merchandise Mart. One question asked was, “what’s the difference between Millennials and Gen Z employees?” The panel all agreed in saying that Gen Z is very mission driven.

In fact, Gen Z looks for mission statements when researching new employers. For them, the mission is something to be embraced and becomes their goal to help realize. Once achieved, they are ready for the new purpose. They will also seek out brands to engage with that have a larger purpose that aligns with their values.

For them, a mission statement must be authentic. If these Gen Z consumers find other sections of a website talking about something that contradicts the mission or undermines it, they close that door. This behavior highlights how important a mission statement is and how important it is to be authentic.  Empty words have no value for Gen Z or anyone.

A Brand Pillar

Your mission statement is one of your most essential brand elements. It speaks to who you are and what you value. It’s not just something you throw up on a webpage so that you can check that box.

It should also be a litmus test for all your messaging.

If your mission speaks to social awareness, but you support events that feature industries known for undermining those values, you need to think hard about who you are.

If the opposite is true, you need to think about what your core values are. For example, your company gives back and supports its employees doing the same, but your mission speaks only of creating the best widget. You are out of messaging alignment.

Messaging Through-Thread

A messaging through-thread begins at the vision/mission and extends to sales interaction with prospects and end-users. If this thread is knotted or cut or broken, your market will know. Equally important, if you don’t think about how your mission drives your business, you may never see the disconnect yourself.

You don’t need to reference your mission statement in every headline, media posting, or spec sheet, but it does need to align with all those things. They should all support the larger brand story that has the mission at its heart.

The benefit may not be something you realize every day. Building a relationship takes time, and brands building a relationship with their audience requires time and patience. It may be because it’s natural to humanize things like a brand to give them personal characteristics. When we do, we start to seek the qualities in a brand, that we want in a person we have a relationship with – honesty, integrity, intelligence, humor, or authenticity.

The feeling of a separation of business and consumers that mirrored a class system is gone. The famous Henry Ford quote, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” It would only be acceptable if it were ironic. Even then, this takes it or leave it attitude doesn’t speak to a mission today’s generation would want to get behind.

 

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