Slogans and missions: the textual relationship between advertising slogans and the mission statements of their corresponding companies Nowadays, most companies whether big international corporations or small local firms, have their mission statements outlined and use slogans in their advertising campaigns. Falsey’s study (as cited in Williams, 2008, p. 96) defines mission statement as a claim of who the company is and what it does. Sometimes it is referred to as a “mission”, a “credo”, “our philosophy”, “core values” and other, as mentioned in the works of Abrahams, 1995; Collins & Porras, 1991; Falsey, 1989; Ireland & Hitt,1992; Klemm et al., 1991; Pearce & David, 1987, (as cited in Williams, 2008, p. 96). In addition to company’s identity and the reason for existence, according to Abrahams, 1995; Collins & Porras, 1991; Falsey, 1989; Ireland & Hitt,1992; Klemm et al., 1991; Pearce & David, 1987, mission statement may also represent what company’s goals are; how it is going to pursue them; what the priorities, values, beliefs are and what it stands out for. At the same time, Keller (2003) states that slogan is defined as a marketing tool which helps corporations in building strong brand equity and identity and provides continuity in advertising campaigns.
He claims that the slogan tells the consumer what the brand is and it is intended to have an effect on how consumers see and evaluate the brand. Linguistic techniques like rhyme and word play make slogans more memorable for consumers. The most important thing to consider when composing a slogan, claims Keller, is to keep in mind that it has to be matching with the brand itself. The difficult part about it is that consumers are the ones who do the matching in their minds (as cited in Rosengren and Dahlen, 2006, p. 265). Dawe (n.d.) states, that mission statement is mainly composed for company’s employees. It serves to them as a certain guideline which keeps reminding of their responsibilities and duties within the organization and why they do what they do, as well as what company stands for.
Mission statements are rarely exposed to consumers, but can be looked up on the internet if consumer is interested in knowing it. The author states that at the same time slogans are designed for consumers in order to grab their attention and make them purchase a particular product or service. However, it is said that there is a textual relationship between the two when seen in a company context. Most of the slogans are created by marketing professionals by summing up organization’s mission statement and are exposed to the potential and existing customers in the form of advertisement (Differences Between Slogans & Mission Statements, para. 3-4). In order to prove that this relationship exists, the mission statements and slogans of such companies as Nike and Philips will be analyzed.
Nike is the world’s leading corporation specializing in sports footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories. Nike has established itself as a strong brand and it is definitely present in the evoked set of most consumers. Nike’s mission statement is: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”, followed by a more precise clarification: “If you have a body you are an athlete”. First of all, this is an unusual construction for a mission statement (because of the clarification remark). The key words in the mission’s main statement are “inspiration”, “innovation”, “athlete” and “world”. These words give the person who sees this statement a mere idea of what company sells and what it represents. Word “inspiration” can be interpreted as creativity or enthusiasm, while “innovation” can be unpacked as change, shift and newness. “Inspiration” appears to be a positive word, whereas “innovation” indicates change, which some people are resistant to, even if it may be for the better. The word “athlete” connects the statement to sports and “world” means products’ availability everywhere. If there was no second sentence included in Nike’s mission statement, it would mean that the company’s target group is very limited and is narrowed down to athletes only.
However, the clarification, which is the second part of the mission statement, basically indicates that Nike’s production is for all the people with bodies, which is everyone in the world. Nike’s mission states that its goal is to ”bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”, but it does not say anything about how company is planning to pursue this goal. It also hardly illustrates any other values the company has except innovation and inspiration. Now let us take a look at Nike’s slogan. “Just do it”, – says the sentence. The first thing that comes to a mind of anyone who hears the slogan is “Do what?” What does Nike want its customers to do? The key word of this slogan is “do”, which has multiple meanings in English language: to carry out, complete, achieve, act, accomplish. This slogan is very short and calls the consumers for action. Unfortunately, it is not clear enough what kind of action it requires. However, this can be easily explained if one looks at the history of how the particular slogan was created. As Wieden (2009) states, nobody really paid too much attention to the wording of this slogan. The company just though it sounded nice and had a connection with the brand. Later on they recognized that people were linking it to other things than just sports (The Birth of “Just Do It” and Other Magic Words , para. 7-8). Looking at the relationship between Nike’s mission statement and slogan one can conclude that there is barely any connection between the two.
Coming back to Dawe’s statement, mentioned above (Differences Between Slogans & Mission Statements, para. 3-4), slogans are often used by marketing managers to sum up the key points of the company’s mission. This is not the case with Nike, however. The company’s slogan was written way before its mission statement (1988), clearly illustrating that the slogan is not based on Nike’s values or goals. I also have a feeling that the mission statement was constructed more on what customers want to hear rather than what the company really is. The only connection I can see between the two is the inspirational part: the word “inspiration” is present in the mission statement and the slogan is worded in an inspirational way, calling the customers for action.
Philips is the Netherlands based multinational electronics company known all over the world. Just like Nike it is one of the leaders in its industry. Philips’ mission statement is: Improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation”. This statement consists of two parts. The first part “improving people’s lives” represents what the company does and what it is planning to do in future. It means that Philips is aiming at making people’s lives better. The wording of this first part of the mission statement corresponds to the definition of mission statement mentioned in paragraph 1. The second part of the mission “through meaningful innovation” answers the question of how the company does it. “Meaningful innovation” in this case means purposeful change or transformation. As a whole, the mission statement can be interpreted as “making people’s lives better through the change they need”. The sentence suggests that the changeover is needed only if it is reasonable and purposeful enough. Philips’ slogan is the following: “Sense and Simplicity”.
The word “sense” has different meanings and can be interpreted in different ways. In this case “sense” stands for meaning, purpose and reason, whereas “simplicity” is most probably referred to as easiness, clarity and plainness. The relationship between Philips’ mission statement and slogan is obvious. The slogan is a shortened version of the company’s mission. It represents the same values which are present in the mission statement. “Sense” part of the slogan relates to the “meaningful innovation” part of the mission statement, while “simplicity” is represented by “improving people’s lives”.
To conclude, I would like to state that there is a textual relationship between company’s mission statement and its slogan, but not in all cases. When analyzing Nike’s mission statement and slogan I understood that there is hardly any relationship between their wordings. They do not refer to the same values or company’s goals. Moreover, the company directors admit that there was no specific reason behind “Just Do It” and it became so popular because people started relating this broad meaning phrase to their lives. On the other hand, Philips example proves that the relationship does exist and is a quite strong one. Company’s values and goals which are represented in its mission statement are accurately transformed into its slogan.
The key elements represented in Philips’ mission statement were narrowed down to three words and put in a short, meaningful and catchy slogan. Both Nike and Philips are the market leaders in their own industries, so it is inappropriate to judge how successful company is relying on the relationship between its mission statement and slogan. According to Joyner (2006), lots of big corporations nowadays create clear slogans which provide current and potential customers with a reason to buy a particular kind of brand. As a marketing guy, Joyner sees slogans clearly as a means of advertising and getting the message across to consumers, whereas looking from the leadership trainer point of view he realized that this reason is actually derived from company’s mission statement (as cited in Dao, 2006, para. 4). Therefore, establishing this relationship makes company more coherent in the eyes of its employees and consumers.
Dawe, T., (n.d.). Difference Between Slogans & Mission Statements. eHow Money. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com Dao, F., (November 1, 2006). Marketing Your Mission Statement. INC.. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/ Peters, J. W., (August 19, 2009). The Birth of “Just Do It” and Other Magic Words. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com Rosengren, S. & Dahlen, M., (December 1, 2006). Brand – Slogan Matching in a Cluttered Environment. Journal of marketing communications. 12(4), 263-279. doi: 10.1080/13527260600714700. Williams, L. S., (April 1, 2008). The Mission Statement: A Corporate Reporting Tool With a Past, Present, and Future. Journal of business communication. 45(2), 94-119.
I used the first source Difference Between Slogans & Mission Statements for writing this essay because it talks about the differences between mission statements and slogans, explaining that they are not the same and outlines the value each of them bring to the company. Marketing Your Mission Statement was used in this essay in order to show that mission statements and slogans are viewed differently by different people according to person’s position within the company. This article also proves that the relationship between the mission statement and a slogan of the corresponding company exists. I chose The Birth of “Just Do It” and Other Magic Words for this essay as it reveals interesting and useful information on who, how and when came up with the “Just Do It” slogan. It helps to understand the background behind the words. Brand – Slogan Matching in a Cluttered Environment outlines the main characteristics of a slogan and how it is related to the brand. This information is vital in order to be able to make comparisons between mission statement and slogan. The Mission Statement: A Corporate Reporting Tool With a Past, Present, and Future explains what mission statement is and where it is used. This information is vital in order to be able to make comparisons between mission statement and slogan.
[ 1 ]. http://nikeinc.com/pages/about-nike-inc
[ 2 ]. http://www.usa.philips.com/about/company/missionandvisionvaluesandstrategy/index.page