How to Make a Mission Statement

There’s no north and south for jewelry retailers, but some direction is always helpful. As you navigate the months and years of ups and downs, changing customer preferences, volatile economic cycles, and shifting ­jewelry trends, what keeps you on course?

For many retailers, it’s a mission statement: a short, simple declaration of what your business stands for. “It’s your compass for your entire business—for ­customers and employees,” says Lior Arussy, president of Strativity, a customer experience strategy company in Hackensack, N.J. “It guides you in everything you do.”

A mission statement announces what you do and what makes you unique. “It explains for you and your employees what makes you special,” says Arussy. “And it explains to customers why they should be buying from you.”

Begin with a thorough analysis of your business.
“You’ve got to answer some pretty big questions,” says John Torella, senior partner with the J.C. ­Williams Group, global retail advisers in Toronto. “How are you going to be unique? If you’re not different, you are a commodity, the same as everyone else. Your mission statement should be pretty explicit in how you’re going to do this.”

The Robbins Brothers website makes clear its mission—”to create the best, most memorable engagement ring shopping experience.”

The Robbins Brothers website makes clear its mission—”to create the best, most memorable engagement ring shopping experience.”

Be succinct.
“Shorter is always better,” says Jeff Weidauer, vice president of marketing and strategy for retail marketing company Vestcom in Little Rock, Ark. “The best mission statements are clear and concise. They should have no more than two or three clarifying points. A shorter statement is easier to commit to memory and has a better chance of being remembered.”

But don’t mistake brevity for boring.
“Companies tend to make mission statements safe and lofty,” Weidauer adds. “Don’t say what every company would also say—but differentiate yourself.”

Hamilton Jewelers, which has two locations in New Jersey and two in Palm Beach, Fla., wrote its mission statement 20 years ago. That was when Hank Siegel, the third generation of the family that owns the business, took over as president and CEO.

“It helps us look at whether any decision is aligned with our vision and mission,” says vice president Donna Bouchard. “It’s a template and a guideline because it clarifies what we stand for.”

At Hamilton Jewelers, the mission statement is framed and placed in areas where customers can see it.

Get the team involved.
“We didn’t want this to be a top-down declaration as a mantra of what we expect everyone to go along with, but we wanted it to come organically from the bottom up,” explains Larry Gomperts, executive vice president of marketing and strategic development at Azusa, Calif.–based Robbins Brothers.

And remember: Simply having a mission statement isn’t enough.
“It’s something to come back to time and time again,” Torella says. “You can use it to check if everything is on brand. You’ve got to be constantly looking at it because competition is changing, the customer is changing, culture is changing.”

Robbins Brothers gives its employees business cards with the mission statement printed on one side and company values on the other. “It’s less about the expectation that employees will pull it out of their wallet every day, but whenever they do, they might think of it again,” Gomperts explains. “That’s a far more powerful way of bringing [our mission statement] to life. We are very sensitive to not just having words on a piece of paper but of making our mission resonate.”

A version of this story originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of JCK magazine.

(Top: Sawayusu Tsuji/Getty Images)


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