Apparently, this is my third installment for discussing corporate goal communications in Japan. My first two cover the reasons why communicating about rationality is less important than emotion and why a profitable company sounds bad. While staying on the topic of corporate goals, there is one very common phrase shared among companies:
“To become a company indispensable to society.”
When working in a global market, there are many issues with this as a stated goal. First, there can be multiple ways to interpret this phrase’s meaning. The company would like readers to understand that the company wants to create goods that support society, thereby giving essential benefits to everyone. It sounds quite noble that way. But when others may read the idea there is a very different message. One that the company, hopefully, does not mean to say. That being:
We want to become a company that society MUST rely on and be entirely dependent on our goods.
Now, if this sounds like a terrifying idea, that’s because it is when interpreted this way. It appears that the company’s mission is to trick society into requiring it for basic survival. If we were on a deserted island, perhaps this would be nice, but forcing a subservient relationship still seems extreme. But we aren’t on an island ? well technically yes but… – we are in an ever globalizing market. Connections across the world are made instantly. The Global society is not and cannot be bound to one company.
“Strive to solve real issues and support society with real solutions”
Instead of a message interpreted as requiring society to be submissive to the company, strive to solve real issues and support society with real solutions. Like I’ve mentioned, people are not swayed by seeking profit, so they are definitely not swayed by being viewed as just another person obligated to pay a company.
This brings me to my next point, the idea of being “indispensable” is way too common in Japan. Even with a positive interpretation, it sets no one apart. Shifting from domestic competition to global competition is on a logarithmic scale. There are so many brands that have crafted a unique identity already. There are also many ideas of what “benefiting society” or even just “society” mean. Do you mean preserving culture? Changing culture? Developing regions? Providing disaster relief? So presenting a message without personality does not succeed.
Vague messages and negative interpretations do not advance the company’s message. But more importantly, company’s need to identify what makes them valuable and how they can impact society. In the already saturated global market, communicating strengths really makes a difference.