In an over-crowded, increasingly competitive financial services landscape, each of us has the difficult task of differentiating our organizations from the others in our communities.

As marketing teams, we spend time crafting our brand voice, tweaking copy on our websites, and agonizing over the "perfect" images for our ads. Only to be disappointed when another organization uses the same stock image we were sure we'd never seen before.

Yet one opportunity for differentiation that is often overlooked is the mission statement.

Too often, mission statements are crafted by committees and hung on a wall somewhere in the corporate headquarters. These statements are bland and expected, and can rarely be recited by the employees.

In banking, most mission statements read something like this: "We are committed to remaining an independent, locally owned bank, seeking to increase shareholder value; offering quality service to our communities; while providing a good working environment for our employees".

I know, because the above is the former mission statement of my organization, First Bank Financial Centre. In doing research, I learned that the mission statements of many of your organizations are quite similar.

And that's a problem.

An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your business strategy. It brings customers, employees, and company leaders together under a single, succinct statement that accurately defines what the business stands for. 

In short, an effective mission statement explains why we exist.

And while we do offer high-quality products and services, great customer service and a good workplace, is that really why we exist? I would argue providing these offerings is what we do. And so do many of you.

In a time when so many people want to be associated with organizations that are good corporate citizens, why not start by examining your mission statement to uncover why you exist as a company?

In a recent study by Deloitte, 95% of new hires nationally indicated that culture is more important than compensation. In its 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, Nielsen stated that 81% of millennials expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.

And in a 2017 Forbes article, author Sarah Landrum stated that millennials "want companies that prioritize 'making an impact' on the world around them."

Our bank offers high-quality products and services. We've been named a Top Workplace 9 years in a row. And our shareholders have enjoyed positive returns for many consecutive years. 

But we also make a true impact in the communities we serve. We donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to local organizations. Our employees spend nearly 15,000 hours a year volunteering. Our loan pool programs allow entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses, and our mortgage products allow families to move into the homes of their dreams.

With that in mind, we proudly adopted a new mission statement: "Make Lives Better".

"Make Lives Better" is a declaration that lets all of our stakeholders know why we exist. It's simple and succinct, and empowers our employees to make a positive impact on the lives of those around them.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to really examine why your organization exists. Then craft a succinct mission statement that your employees and customers will proudly embrace. 

McCarthy is vice president, marketing director at First Bank Financial Centre and a member of the 2018-2019 WBA Marketing Committee.