Let me get this out there right away: I hate mission statements.

Whether we’re talking about mission statements, vision, or some other business-school textbook buzzword, they’re all pretty similar. These statements should define the brand. In other words, they should provide a nice little explanation of the brand.

I hate them because they are almost always immense letdowns.

I recognize how these things are tackled: by a committee. Since such entities are intrinsically political, you end up with equivocal blocks of copy that don’t communicate anything. They don’t read well, and so they don’t affect the organization.

Noteworthy: Here’s a random mission statement generator.

Language aside, I hate mission statements because they’re often ignored—or at least stepped around when convenient. I think that the most powerful thing a brand can do is be genuine. Whatever you decide the brand stands for, do that. Live and breathe those qualities in every way you can. And most of all, be genuine at the cost of a dollar.

I’m not arguing for the abandonment of economics. I’m saying that when a brand is confronted with making a choice between being genuine or making a profit, it pays off to be genuine.

Your mission statement doesn’t mean anything until it costs you money.