Source: Millward Brown www.millwardbrown.com/BrandZ/Top_100_Global_Brands.aspx

Continuing the discussion on mission statements (the most searched content on this blog), the world’s top 100 brands were recently announced by Millward Brown. Now in its 7th year, the 2012 Top 100 Global Brandz saw Apple retaining its number one position, with IBM in 2nd place, pushing Google out to 3rd. As before, the tech sector continues to dominate (securing seven out of the 10 top places), and here’s the full list if you’re interested. If you want more detail on how the brands are measured, you can also check out the news on Reuters or MSNBC.

And the Top 10 are:

  1. Apple
  2. IBM
  3. Google
  4. McDonalds
  5. Microsoft
  6. Coca-Cola
  7. Marlboro
  8. AT&T
  9. Verizon
  10. China Mobile

As the top 10 brands in the world, I thought it would be interesting to find and assess one aspect of their marketing – mission statements. So I looked through all of the Websites, sometimes finding these statements (but sometimes not), and other times finding something different but in most cases, it meets the need of defining what drives a company. My conclusion – it’s extremely interesting how differently the Top 10 go about things, but not all of them are doing it well. As far as I’m concerned, a mission statement (plus vision and corporate values) are the driving force for a company, its reason for existence, and only seven out of the 10 had something called a mission statement, with only four of them being what I would define as mission statements.

So what does this tell us? Is it no longer important? And if so, how do employees understand the central driving force of the company they work for? IBM obviously believes it’s still important to have direction, and while they went about it in a different way, the results created (see below) ensure the global workforce has something to focus on and align with. Based on IBM’s example, I would consider defining driving principles are still important, no? But then again, big companies can do things differently to smaller companies.

As a result, I had to change my approach and instead of looking for mission statements, I ended up looking for the words that defined the driving force of each of the Top 10. When no mission statement was available, I found the content most closely aligned to a central driving force philosophy for each company.

For each of the companies listed, I’ve included comments on the quality of the statements, and how easy they were to find – this is important, because really, this sort of information should be front and centre. Any text in purple is a direct copy from the companies’ Website and not my own writing – I’ve even left in the spelling mistakes and typos.

The Driving Principles of the Top 10 Global Brands

Apple

I posted this mission statement up on an earlier blog BUT I could not find the mission statement today on Apple when I went looking for it again… it seems to have disappeared… Perhaps someone at Apple can tell me if this is the right and current one?

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

As far as mission statements go, I find this boring. It doesn’t talk about its people, it doesn’t talk about its environmental aims (something important to Apple when you review its Website) and it makes no mention of its corporate responsibility around the world. It talks about the products it has already created and its leadership position, but it doesn’t inspire the imagination about where it’s going to take us next. This is a shame, and I definitely think Apple could do a much better job of it, because Apple certainly is inspiring. The Apple Mission Statement in particular is a highly searched term on my blog, so marketing folk are interested and looking for inspiration from the world’s number one brand.

IBM

When looking for its mission statement, I came across its core values and how IBM went about recreating them  – this is great information on the importance of involving everyone in the process to ensure buy-in. As such, I didn’t find a mission statement per se, but this is what drives IBM world-wide:

Today, shared values are more essential than ever before-for enterprises, for individuals and for the globally integrating society of the 21st Century.

  • Dedication to every clients success
  • Innovation that matters – for our company and the world
  • Trust and responsibility in all relationships

These are the core values that serve as the foundation of IBM’s culture and brand and the guide for each IBMer’s work, decisions and relationships.

PS: there is some pretty useful information on this link for anyone in marketing today. 

Google

Google’s is short and sweet, and many would define this as a vision statement

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

If you’re wondering what drives Google as a core philosophy, here are the 10 things defined in the early days, which get tweaked occasionally as the company evolves. 

McDonalds

Interestingly, I’ve never looked at the McDonalds Website before, but the mission statement was easy to find, and if you’re interested, the values follow on and can be found here.

McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.

In many ways, this includes the company’s core drivers, but it lacks passion for me. On the ‘About McDonalds’ page, they had this summary and I actually think this content forms the basis of a much better mission statement:

At McDonald’s, we strive to be more than just a restaurant – we’re a first job for many, a community partner, a model for other restaurants around the world, and a company seeking new ways to fulfil our brand promise of Quality, Service, Cleanliness, and Value.

Microsoft

Easy to find and it looks like Microsoft has done a recent revamp of its messaging since the last time I checked in and blogged about it. The new mission statement I found is this:

At Microsoft, our mission and values are to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

Great, but more of a vision statement don’t you think? It’s definitely not quantifiable, which is what a vision is?

On this same page, Microsoft includes its values, which are good and probably closer to a mission statement:

As a company, and as individuals, we value integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement, and mutual respect. We are committed to our customers and partners and have a passion for technology. We take on big challenges, and pride ourselves on seeing them through. We hold ourselves accountable to our customers, shareholders, partners, and employees by honoring our commitments, providing results, and striving for the highest quality.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola does the whole mission, vision, etc… in a different way again, but with such a massive global brand, and a vast product range, I figure it’s not so easy to come up with a one line vision, and paragraph-length mission statement? This is how Coca-Cola positions its mission and vision. I’d swap mission and vision if it was me, but easy to find this information on the Website.

Our Mission

Our Roadmap starts with our mission, which is enduring. It declares our purpose as a company and serves as the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions.

  • To refresh the world…
  • To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
  • To create value and make a difference

Our Vision  

Our vision serves as the framework for our Roadmap and guides every aspect of our business by describing what we need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth.

  • People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
  • Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people’s desires and needs.
  • Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value.
  • Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.
  • Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
  • Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization

Marlboro

I wasn’t able to find the Marlboro mission statement, because I had to register on the site as an over 18 year old to get access, BUT as I didn’t have a PIN number (which looks relevant only to US residents). Therefore I had to go to parent company Philip Morris, which then meant going to its operating company, Altria. As an example of driving principles, this is definitely the most interesting of the group, because they face massive challenges with negative public opinion in relation to health concerns, and need to address them within the context of a mission statement. Definitely a good example for companies looking to define their mission in the context of similar challenges:

Our Mission is to own and develop financially disciplined businesses that are leaders in responsibly providing adult tobacco and wine consumers with superior branded products. In pursuing our Mission, we have established the following goals for Altria Group and its subsidiary companies:

Invest in Leadership

We will invest in excellent people, leading brands and external stakeholders important to our businesses’ success.

Align With Society

We will actively participate in resolving societal concerns that are relevant to our businesses.

Satisfy Adult Consumers

We will convert our deep understanding of adult tobacco and wine consumers into better and more creative products that satisfy their preferences.

Create Substantial Value For Shareholders

We will execute our business plans to create sustainable growth and generate substantial returns for shareholders.

AT&T

AT&T is relatively easy to find but I think they’ve got their mission and vision confused. One is definitely not the other and both are mixed up in this statement.

Today, our mission is to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else. We’re fulfilling this vision by creating new solutions for consumers and businesses and by driving innovation in the communications and entertainment industry.

Verizon

I couldn’t find a mission or vision statement for Verizon as I define them, but the Website claims a Verizon Credo’ as its driving force. 

“The Verizon Credo guides us in every decision and shapes relationships with our customers, our suppliers and the communities we serve.”

While a little different and much longer, it demonstrates focus and alignment. It’s also the best example I could find for Verizon. 

Who We Are

We have work because our customers value our high-quality communications services.

We deliver superior customer experiences through our products and our actions. Everything we do we build on a strong network, systems and process foundation. The quality and reliability of the products we deliver are paramount. Customers pay us to provide them with services that they can rely on.

We focus outward on the customer, not inward. We make it easy for customers to do business with us, by listening, anticipating and responding to their needs.

We know our products and can explain them to customers. We focus on fundamental execution. We are accountable and we follow through with a sense of urgency. We know that having the highest ethical standards is a competitive advantage.

We know teamwork enables us to serve our customers better and faster. We embrace diversity and personal development not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s smart business.

We are driven not by ego but by accomplishments. We keep our commitments to each other and our customers. Our word is our contract. We respect and trust one another, communicating openly, candidly and directly since any other way is unfair and a waste of time. We voice our opinion and exercise constructive dissent, and then rally around the agreed-upon action with our full support. Any one of us can deliver a view or idea to anyone else, and listen to and value another’s view regardless of title or level. Ideas live and die on their merits rather than where they were invented.

We believe integrity is at the core of who we are. It establishes the trust that is critical to the relationships we have.

We are committed to do the right thing and follow sound business practices in dealing with our customers, suppliers, owners and competitors. Our competitors are not enemies; they are challengers who drive us to improve. We are good corporate citizens and share our success with the community to make the world in which we work better than it was yesterday.

We know that bigness is not our strength, best is our strength.

Bureaucracy is an enemy. We fight every day to stay “small” and keep bureaucracy out. We are more agile than companies a fraction of our size, because we act fast and take risks every day. We see crisis and change as opportunities, not threats. We run to a crisis, not away. Change energizes us. We work hard, take action and take personal accountability for getting things done. Our actions produce measurable results.

Everything we do is built on the strong foundation of our corporate values.

We work 24×7 because our customers depend on us 24×7. We know our best was good for today. Tomorrow we’ll do better.

We Are VERIZON

INTEGRITY • RESPECT • PERFORMANCE EXCELLENCE • ACCOUNTABILITY

China Mobile

The only non-US company in the Top 10 is China Mobile and unlike the others, it does not have the slick Website and punchy statements that go with it. I couldn’t find anything resembling a mission statement or corporate values, and the only aspect that clarified its driving principles was under the corporate governance tab. Of course, the site in Mandarin might actually include this information, but I could only read the English version.

Our goal has always been to enhance our corporate value, maintain our sustainable long-term development and generate greater returns for our shareholders. In order to better achieve the above objectives, we have established good corporate governance practices following the principles of integrity, transparency, openness and efficiency, and have implemented sound governance structure and measures. We have established and improved various policies, internal control system and other management mechanisms and procedure for the key participants involved in good corporate governance, including shareholders, board of directors and its committees, management and staff, internal auditors, external auditors and other stakeholders (including our customers, local communities, industry peers, regulatory authorities, etc.).

We believe that corporate governance goes hand in hand with corporate culture. High standard of corporate governance is built on the basis of good corporate culture. Corporate governance principles and policies can only be applied effectively and consistently with a corporate culture that is premised on honesty and integrity. By upholding our core value of “Responsibility Makes Perfection”, we strive to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability in a way that coordinates the present and the future while taking the interests of ourselves and our stakeholders into account.

This is not unusual for a PRC company Website, and while the growth in this region is on a massive scale, there is still a long way to go in regards to the glossy marketing output of its US counterparts. They will get there in time I’m sure.

Conclusion

As you can see, all of these companies go about defining their driving principles in different ways, but as global brand leaders we should expect it to be done with exceptional panache. Most have achieved it, but some have not, and for those looking for information on how to define a company’s mission statement, I hope the homework I’ve done here helps you. If you’re defining your mission, vision or corporate values, you’ve got to make them mean something, because every employee in the organisation needs to embrace them and approach their work with them as a core driving principle. I continue to believe they are that important.

As I’ve said in earlier blogs, a mission statement clarifies an organizations’ purpose and typically, needs to be about one paragraph in length. It should be unambiguous and to the point, integrating meaningful statements, such as: moral stance, how you want to be perceived, primary focus, your customers, who you care about, your presence and how you will grow. Check out my first blog on this topic for more detail on what to include in a mission statement.

I wish you luck if you’re embarking on this journey, and remember, involve as many people in your company as you can, because then you’ll come up with something really meaningful – as IBM did.

If you’re in Asia and need some help, that’s one of the services we offer.

Cheers

Andrea

PS if you think someone else will benefit from this information, we’d really appreciate you sharing it. We’ve also got a Facebook page, where we share all sorts of interesting information – with a focus on content strategy – and it’s not just our own. Or sign up directly and get our blogs on email. We’re also on Twitter @SAJEIdeas