Two turtle doves…

It’s Day 2 of the 12 Days of Branding. If you missed Day 1, you can find it here. In today’s installment we talk about two important foundations for any brand: The Vision and Mission.

If you could wave your magic wand and create a perfect world, what would that look like?

I know it’s hard to go there, so you may want to put your feet up and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and relaaaax. Got your perfect world? Good. Now narrow that vision down to the realm where your products and/or services live. What’s the perfect world related to how they’re created, used, and or recycled? What would need to happen in order to make your business obsolete?

Complete this sentence: “I envision a world where …”

Important Clue >> Your answer is the key to your business vision.

The thing to remember here is that your vision shouldn’t be something that only you could create. It’s not something that one person or business can tackle alone. 

So go ahead. Dream BIG.

Once you’ve got your vision sketched out, it’s time to look at your part in that vision.

Your business mission/purpose comes from the part you play in making that vision a reality. In other words, your mission statement explains why your business exists and what part it plays in bringing your vision to fruition.

These can be challenging concepts, so let’s look at a real life example. (One of the best ways to learn a new concept is to see it in action.) Here’s the story of a small business whose vision and mission are keeping them on track to real success:

The Vision and Mission of Green3 

green 3 logoOne might wonder, what happens to a town that is known worldwide for a company that no longer resides there? That’s the question that pertains to two companies in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Ask any adult over the age of 35 about Oshkosh B’Gosh, and a smile comes to their face as they remember the railroad stripe overalls they had as a child. For many people outside of Oshkosh, WI, the question of whether the town was named for the company or the company was named for the town is a very real one. After 100 years of supplying high quality apparel and accessories, made in the USA (for the first 80 years), the company was sold in 2005 and with that sale many employees found themselves out of work. As the story of the Phoenix goes, from the ashes a beautiful bird rises.

Jim and Sandy Martin, founders of Green3 Apparel

Jim and Sandy Martin, founders of Green3 Apparel

In 2005, former Oshkosh B’Gosh and apparel industry veteran, Sandy Martin decided to start her own apparel company.

Her vision was a company built upon the core tenets of environmental awareness and USA production. A vision not born from any marketing strategy, but rather from values that came a result of years of international travel, and an equal number of years growing up on farm in Michigan.

The international travel had taken her to the far corners of the earth, and in those corners she had seen both the good and the bad of how clothing was made in factories of all sizes. She knew in her heart her company would bring apparel jobs back to the USA. Jobs that would offer fair wages and decent working conditions to its employees. Jobs in facilities that she could visit easily and monitor to assure that these standards were being met.

She also knew that traditional and conventional methods of farming, laden with toxic chemicals, would not be the source of the products she wanted to produce. She’d seen too clearly in her own family the negative health impacts of this conventional methodology. Her products were to be produced with methods that caused the least possible impact on the environment, and would utilize sustainable fibers of all kinds.

With these principles in place Sandy began to develop her business plan. In 2006, with $25,000 and the help of her daughter and husband, Green 3 (named for the three family members) was born.

Now in its fifth full year of operation, Green 3 has 17 employees, 8 of which are ex-B’Gosh. Green 3 is now carried by over 600 special stores coast to coast, and provides products to a myriad of globally recognized catalog retailers. Its products still remain true to Sandy’s original vision of environmental awareness and USA production.

It is now under one 18,000 square foot roof, where design, distribution, and its first company store is now located. They have an active community on Facebook and Twitter. Can Green 3 someday have the awareness that other great Oshkosh based brand had? Well time will tell, but it’s off to a great start!

In case you missed my yellow highlighting, Green 3’s vision is a world where apparel is made from sustainable materials by companies that pay a fair wage and provide decent working conditions. The company’s mission is to produce some of that apparel here in the USA. Not too difficult, right?

Green 3 incorporates their vision and mission into every marketing message they deliver. On their blog, a recent post on handwarmers details the benefits of their product then goes on to boast:

…our hand warmers are among the select few that are both organic and made in the US.

Green 3 is just one great example of a company that gets its branding right. Over the course of the remainder of this series, I’ll be highlighting a few other tremendous businesses. Each one has been included in the 12 Days of Branding because they adhere to my triple threat criteria:

1: Grabs attention via a unique logo/message.

2: Keeps attention via a unique mission/back story incorporated into every marketing opportunity.

3: Builds loyalty via community engagement.

Got a question or a tip about how to get to the heart of your company vision and mission? Leave a comment below.