CEO Note | Beyond Missions and Visions: Company Management Needs a "Slogan"

CEO Note | Beyond Missions and Visions: Company Management Needs a "Slogan"

At Money Forward, we hold biannual general employee meetings (Half Year All-Hands) to review the previous half-year and plan for the next. During the CEO section, I always announce a slogan.
CEO Note | Beyond Missions and Visions: Company Management Needs a "Slogan"

I thought 2024 had just begun, but in the blink of an eye, it's the middle of March already. Time really flies by!

In fact, on New Year's Eve 2024, I had a big skiing crash and sustained a pretty bad case of a bruise, but that injury has already since healed. (I actually broke my ribs playing tag with my daughter at the end of 2022, too).

With that, I hope I've exhausted my bad luck for the year, and 2024 will undoubtedly be great. (BTW, no worries, my injury won't interfere with my work, and I vow to take even better care of my health this year.

A friend, grinning, captured the scene with a photo right after the crash...

Money Forward’s Slogan

Today, I would like to write about our "slogans".

At Money Forward, we hold biannual general employee meetings (Half Year All-Hands) to review the previous half-year and plan for the next. During the CEO section, I always announce a slogan.

Our Mission and Vision describe our commitment to achieving the society we want to pursue and the future we aim for. Our slogan, on the other hand, is a simple way to communicate what we need to focus on during the next half-year to achieve them and to keep all employees focused on that.

Companies will continue to grow, and depending on their growth phase, there will be different organizational issues. I advocate for  a leadership style where I share the direction of 'This is what's important now!'Having introduced this approach with slogans in 2017, it's been about 6 or 7 years now".

The direct impetus for my decision to try this came from reading this article by Susumu Fujita, the founder of CyberAgent, one of the most successful Japanese digital advertising companies that has made smash hits in creating blogging platforms, video platforms, and even social gaming.

The period from 2016-17, when I first started sharing slogans, was also the time when we took on the challenge of "going public," a big jump up for us as a joint-stock company.

Around that time, the number of employees increased dramatically, the turnover was also quite rapid, and we also encountered some unprecedented organizational problems. Therefore, it was the time when I felt it imperative to “align perspectives”, including with new members. It all started with my desire to share the understanding of issues,solving the issues together, and to have a "common language" for everyone.

Our MVVC is keywords that, once decided, will not be changed for a certain length of time and will be held by everyone over the medium to long term, while a slogan is a timely common language that reflects the evolving state of the organization.

The evolution of Money Forward's slogans and a brief explanation of each of them

To give you an idea of the changes we have been through, I have created a graph showing our semi-annual sales (left axis) and the number of employees (right axis), and a list of slogans for each period.

  • 2017 (First Half) "Super Offense Mode"
  • 2017 (Second Half) "This is the Crucial Point"

This is when we were brewing a lot of power and enthusiasm toward going public. For the first two years, I alone intuitively decided on the slogans, and as a result, the wording seems very straightforward and a bit overbearing.

  • 2018 (First Half) "Let's Get Started"
  • 2018 (Second Half) "Delivering Inspiration"

I considered our listing achieved in September 2017 not as a "goal" but rather as a "fresh new start.": Let's go back to the basics and deliver value to our users, including product development and customer support! Let's spark excitement by exceeding users' expectations! Now that we have successfully overcome the hurdle of going public, the true challenge begins now! These are the messages embedded in this year’s slogans.

  • 2019 (First Half) "Start from Taking Actions"
  • 2019 (Second Half) "No Compromises!”

The language changed to have a somewhat stronger wording and the imperative form was adopted for the first time for the first half slogan. This was a time when I was concerned that we were slowing down in turning discussions into action as the number of employees grew. Our priorities at the time were "commitment to achieving goals" and "increasing productivity per member.

  • 2020 (First Half) " Full Throttle"
  • 2020 (Second Half) "Let's Go All Out!"

This was when LINE and Yahoo announced their management integration and other mega IT companies were also making dynamic decisions, and thus, the importance of “speedy decision making” had increased. The slogans show how I was feeling a bit uneasy, wanting to move things forward as quickly as possible, even by a second.

In addition, 2020 was a year when the novel COVID-19 forced us to modify our strategy. I recall how I tried to express my desire to move forward with a cheerful note, even in times of confusion when we struggled to find the right answers in "Let’s Go All Out!," our slogan for the second half of 2020.

  • 2021 (First Half) BEYOND●● (Let's go beyond●●)"
  • 2021 (Second Half) "Delivering Pleasant Experiences"

It was around this time that "new routines" such as remote work were taking hold in the wake of the prolonged COVID crisis.These slogans embrace my message to go smoothly beyond stereotypes of the past and move society forward toward a brighter future.

  • 2022 (First Half) "Burn with Passion"
  • 2022 (Second Half)  "Only the Genuine Thrive"

The COVID crisis rapidly digitalized society, accelerating changes in our business environment. Many new players emerged while some sank. I called out to our members "Let’s become a genuine player that can survive and deliver true value to our users.”

2023 (First Half) "Aim Higher!"

2023 (Second Half) “On-site, Insight"

Due to the globalization of our company, our slogan is now noted both in Japanese and English.  The slogan for the second half of the year, "On-site, Insight," was conceived together with  Sergio-san, our CDO (Chief Design Officer). In response to social changes where restrictions on going out and traveling were eased, I called out to employees "Let's explore the apparent and latent needs of our users by creating many opportunities to meet them and getting to know them!"

Looking back over seven years of our slogans, I think it is really interesting to see how they reflect changes in social conditions and changing issues associated with the company's growth.

Having the opportunity to ask myself and carefully think through “What is important to Money Forward NOW?” every six months, taking a bird's eye view of the business environment and internal situations has become a very meaningful routine for me.

As for how we decide on the slogan, at first, I was the only one who came up with it (sometimes on the day of the presentation), but the process gradually changed to a careful team discussion. I now have our design team led by CDO Sergio-san provide me with a lot of creative input.

While the purpose of our slogans is to align the direction we head as a company, it is also important to arrange the slogan in a way that it is not perceived as being overbearing. For example, I think “On-site, Insight” is easier to embrace than "Let's go meet our users!" and it also has a nice rhyme leaving a stronger memorable impact.

It is also important to make the slogans easy for everyone to apply in their daily lives, because it would be sad and meaningless if they were not utilized by anyone.

Thankfully, Money Forward members are always quick to react, and they immediately mass-produce Slack stamps of the slogan during my presentation to announce the slogan and this makes me happy every time.

Our Slogan for the First Half of 2024

And the slogan for the first half of 2024 is:

Shuchaku - Shin (Mindset for the relentless pursuit of aspirations)

The idea is to “Focus on each and every user in front of you and figure out anything and everything we do to contribute to them and put them into action."

With this slogan at the center of our hearts, we will continue to contribute to users with sincerity during this half year.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support, guidance, and encouragement.


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