Mission statements are one of those holdovers from the domineering American corporate culture of the eighties, and while they can be extremely useful to focus a new business, most of the time they’re bland, and lack any sort of creative touch or impulse. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but business schools have a terrible habit of taking the most inoffensive, uninspired mission statements from major corporations and printing them out as an example to which our future entrepreneurs can aspire.

So many thoughts, such little creativity

So we decided to go through a list of multi-national companies and found four odd/funny/not all there upstairs mission statements to help future entrepreneurs reading our blog avoid being the butt of a small time business blog’s jokes.

Dell: “To be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve.”

This one got a collective “Lol, what?” from the Social Media team. It’s like a marketer filled their mouths with business jargon and the word ‘computer’ and then just let it all spill out into a nearly incomprehensible sentence. We understand what Dell is trying to say, that they want to be the top dogs of the computer world, a company that gives customers a technological experience that they simply cannot get anywhere else. But the statement is so poorly constructed! This is the statement that you’ll be using to represent your company, to give it direction – please make sure that it makes sense.

Sony (Europe): “Sony is committed to developing a wide range of innovative products and multimedia services that challenge the way consumers access and enjoy digital entertainment. By ensuring synergy between businesses within the organization, Sony is constantly striving to create exciting new worlds of entertainment that can be experienced on a variety of different products.”

Ugh, synergy. Is there any business buzz word so widely hated and vilified? Don’t ever use the word synergy in your mission statement. It makes it sound like you’re out of touch and grasping for straws. The first half of the statement is actually pretty good. It’s clear, understandable, and is a lofty goal Sony can aspire to. But the second half is just a white-hot mess of corporate nonsense. ‘Exciting new worlds?’ Really? Avoid falling into the trap of playing up some kind of corporate culture that likely does not exist, and make sure your goals are always clear.

And never use the word synergy. Ever.

Enron: “Respect, Integrity, Communication, and Excellence.”

Enron’s statement wasn’t necessarily bad. It was a little silly and very vague, but those four things were goals that could reasonably guide a business’s development. The reason we’re giving Enron a place on our list, however, is because they didn’t follow their mission statement. At all. It’s hard to respect your customers and shareholders when you hide your debts and cost people their pensions and livelihoods. Your mission statement shouldn’t just be a collection of nice sounding words. It should help guide your principles, and form how the outside world views your company.

Hershey: “Undisputed Marketplace Leadership”

That’s it. Undisputed. Market. Leadership. That type of statement would fit better on a propaganda poster used to prop up a tottering military regime. It’s clear, but it’s vague and leaves a bad taste in your mouth – not the best effect when your flagship product is chocolate. Even if your goal is total market annihilation, you shouldn’t make that your mission statement. How do you even achieve that? Send a man named Slugworth to steal secrets from your competitors? Make sure your mission statement actually relates to what you sell, and that it puts your company in a positive light.

Just remember that a good mission statement will not make up for a bad business plan. A mission statement simultaneously gives a business something to strive towards and helps introduce it to the rest of the world. Your customers and employees aren’t idiots, and they’ll know if you just slung a bunch of pointless buzzwords together. Just be honest… and make sure your syntax makes sense.