You’ve probably read a company’s mission statement or seen a LinkedIn advertisement that reads a bit like this:
“We all efficiently operationalize our strategies, invest in world-class technologies, and leverage our core competencies in order to holistically administer exceptional synergy.”
Business jargon like this is somewhere on the spectrum between pretentious and annoying. That’s why Annecy believes our proven methodology, alongside our strong commitment to quality, effectively enhances corporate synergies - SEE WHAT I MEAN? It’s always terrible.
Complex sentences and fancy words don’t replace substance. These poor copywriting decisions give a company (or the writer) the false impression that they’re saying more than they actually are. Worse yet is that one day they’ll interview potential new employees who will feel compelled to explain why this awful mission statement really resonates with them.
The next time your company intends to shift a cultural paradigm, it shouldn’t feel compelled to tell everyone - it should just do it! This jargon is devoid of any legitimate meaning. It's my belief that marketing departments use it as a substitute for thinking clearly about their direction.
For example - Imagine paying for a team of Deloitte consultants. In your first meeting, one of them says this to you…
Some writer decided that this could gracefully allude to Deloitte’s impressive ability to implement machine learning projects. However, the ad doesn’t actually say anything. It’s just riding on the hope that you’ll find it business-y.
As Paul Graham, Y Combinator’s founder once said, “Write like you talk. You don't need complex sentences to express complex ideas”.
Easy to say. Harder to do. You see- when one doesn’t quite know how to market their business, there’s a tendency to blend charisma and vision into the mission statement (in lieu of an actual mission statement).
We’re preconditioned to want people to understand that our work has legitimacy. People are proud of what they’ve created - so they inflate hubris into the way they describe their businesses.
We can look at WeWork as a prime example - “Our mission is to elevate the world's consciousness”. What on Earth does that mean? How is a new employee supposed to take direction from that? It sounds like it was written at a rave.
Scott Galloway of ‘No Mercy, No Malice’ rated the mission statement on a scale of 1 (simple explanation) to 10 (extremely esoteric), then compared these measurements against market returns.
On one end of the spectrum, we can reference Tesla’s mission statement - “To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.” Pretty accurate. As of 1/14/20, Tesla’s returns for 1 year reached 56.18%.
Galloway explains that “to overpromise and underdeliver has become a means for access to cheap capital”. While companies are eager to earn these (SoftBank) investments, their willingness to stretch the truth only hurts them in the long run. After all, it’s always been easier to macro BS than to micro BS.
We decided to complement Scott’s work by adding several companies to the comparison list. Here are the companies, their BS scores, and their mission statements.
“To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."
Annual Increase of 31.67%
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Annual Increase of 10.91%
Barnes & Noble
"Our mission is to operate the best specialty retail business in America, regardless of the product we sell. To say that our mission exists independent of the product we sell is to demean the importance and the distinction of being booksellers."
Annual Increase of 1.41%
"To create emotional connections with customers around the world through inspiring product design, unique store experiences, and competitive marketing."
Annual Decrease of -27.18%
"Our goal is to be a retailer with the ability to see opportunity on the horizon and have a clear path for capitalizing on it. To do so, we are moving faster than ever before, employing more technology and concentrating our resources on those elements most important to our core customers. "
Annual Decrease of -28.50%
"Our corporate mission is to provide our customers with the most convenient access to media entertainment”
10/10 - Blatantly false!
As you craft messaging, try to assign a BS score to any sentences that sound a bit off on your website. People arrive at sites with the mouse already primed and ready to hit the back button. Your task is to ensure that your website helps explain what you do during their short time on the page. It is not a place for word-shaped nothingness.
Need help? We can assist your team along the way. You might ask how? Well...
Annecy shapes UX that intentionally strikes a chord with your user’s subconscious to facilitate, prompt, and guide enlightened yet exciting transactions - anytime, anywhere. (10/10)
At Annecy, we use branding to help companies avoid the back button (1/10)
Wednesday, January 15, 2020