More Than a Mission Statement: How a Mantra Can Build Your Brand and Culture

Words and images are powerful tools for building a company’s culture.

And yet they are too often underused in business.

While mission and values are at the center of an organization’s culture-building language, a mantra can flesh those out. If, for example, excellence is one of your values, a mantra can focus attention on how excellence occurs.

At CMBell, we’ve chosen a mantra that describes how our values will be brought to life: Speak Truth, Encourage, Teach, and Be Kind.

This mantra acts as a guide that describes how we will work together.

It reminds us:

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To speak truthfully as we critique our work and our workplace; we can’t improve problems we don’t know about.

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To encourage each person’s role as a teacher, which invites us to think beyond our own contribution and increases our impact on the company. This moves us from the “me” to the “we”—the kind of thinking that is essential for excelling as a team.

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To reinforce, through encouragement, the kinds of work and attitudes we prize. What we focus on, we get more of.

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To interact with kindness, which preserves a culture of civility and respect. Teams function and people grow in environments marked with these characteristics.

All of these work together to promote individual achievement, teamwork, and employee engagement.

A good mantra is short, easy to understand, and memorable. It links ideas directly to certain behaviors.

But to be effective, like values and a mission statement, a mantra must be visible and continuously reinforced. This can easily be achieved by ensuring that it appears in a variety of ways that reach employees.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • On screen savers

  • On walls

  • On desktops or tack boards

  • At staff meetings

  • In individual meetings

  • In your internal communication

  • On novelty items, like mouse pads

Keeping your mantra, mission statement, or values in front of your employees isn’t hard—but it does require intentionality and sustained effort.

What mantras have you seen in business that work?


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