Philosophies: Why?

First it was mission statements, now it’s company ‘philosophies’.

I guess the relevant definition of the word in this case is, ‘Any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation’.

So it’s a corporate statement of intent.

Sounds innocent enough, but how and when did all this start, and how did the world cope so well without them for thousands of years?

The first one I recall was some load of guff about providing decent fast food that was stuck up in the window of every Pret about ten years ago (interestingly, it now seems to have disappeared), but now every company on earth feels as if they must explain themselves in terms of what they do and why.

Here are two from wildly different ad agencies. See if you can guess who says that…

We develop Creative Business Ideas. A Creative Business Idea combines strategy and creativity in new ways to transform the nature of a business. Creative Business Ideas arise from, and influence business strategy, not just communications strategy, and result in innovation, breakthrough solutions, and industry firsts – maximizing the relationship between consumers and brands. Creative Business Ideas generate profitable growth for our clients’ brands and business by injecting creativity at the heart of their business, enabling the development of new revenue streams, the expansion of brand franchises, the penetration of new distribution channels, and the creation of new and engaging connections with consumers.

And who says that…

The strongest brands represent a meaningful emotional relationship – they have fans not consumers. The most powerful brands are leaders, not followers – they reinvent themselves as fast, often faster, than their consumers. The most effective brands are provocative – they change people’s minds, they disrupt the market place, they change the consumer culture. And we’ve seen that brands like these deliver real business value.

I don’t know about you, but having read that, I’m none the wiser (by the way, the first was Euros, the second was W&K).

Recent posts on Sell! Sell! about an agency that tried to entice a client by telling them that they ‘ignited conversations’, and on Chronic Fatigue about the strange need to start or join the conversation, have made me wonder…

Is this happening because someone started it and now no one feels complete without one (I actually saw a potential placement team recently and even they had a ‘philosophy’ on their website)?

Or do companies really feel that they are expressing themselves in a way that is beneficial to them and potential employees/clients?

God knows.

I’ll admit we had one at Lunar, but at least it contained the sentence ‘we’d never claim to have anything as questionable as a philosophy’ and suggested one of the reasons people might be reading that page could be boredom.