Writing a compelling mission statement for a business is about far more than just vanity. Mission statements, when written well, set out your stall. They are there to communicate the reason that a business exists.
Mission statements should clearly and concisely outline the aims, culture, values and ethics that drive *who* that business is. It needs to be impactful and inspiring but grounded in fact, resonating with the internal and external stakeholders and forming the foundation for the company’s brand and core values.
What’s the Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement?
A mission statement is not to be confused with a vision statement, which is slightly different in that it should state what a company or an organisation would like to achieve in the future. Powerful vision statements are just that – your vision for the future.
A mission statement is about *who* you are as a business and the vision statement explains *why*.
For example, Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This simple but effective statement sets out Google’s purpose and what they do.
Their vision statement then outlines their overall goal, which is to “provide an important service to the world-instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.”
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai went on to add in 2019, that Google’s mission is to allow people “to get things done!” Again, simple but effective.
You may well be thinking – Ok, that’s great for Google, but I’m writing for a much smaller business. Is my business mission statement worthy?.
Whatever the size, ambitions or type of business, the principles remain the same. The secret is to craft the perfect mission statement for *your* business. Make it powerful but realistic. Ask the key questions that get you to the heart of why the business exists.
Top Five Tips for Crafting an Effective Mission Statement:
1. Consider the Key Elements
- Target audience – Think about your core market, your target audience and your internal and external stakeholders. A mission statement needs to clearly explain what the business does and *who* you are. Inject some personality but keep the copy tight and to the point.
Online fashion brand, ASOS have pinpointed their target community with their mission “To become the number 1 fashion destination for 20-somethings globally.”
Forbes is another great example, with “To deliver information on the people, ideas and technologies changing the world to our community of affluent business decision-makers.”
- Contribution – What is it you do? Simply breakdown what the business offers, for example, The BBC’s mission statement is “To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.”
- Distinction – This is where you consider why your audience should choose you? Think about your USP (Unique Selling Point), values, ethos etc.
For example, Uber’s mission statement is “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.”
This states their ethos in the opening sentence, expanding on their offering in the second, and closes with a key benefit directed at the core communities it serves.
Coca-Cola’s mission “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” is another great example of how the company’s values and ethos are introduced to set them apart and demonstrate their USP.
2. Keep the Wording Concise
Mission statements should be no more than a paragraph long. Some of the most impactful statements are just a single, well-crafted line of copy that simply does the job.
For example, Alibaba Group’s is “To make it easy to do business anywhere.” And Sony opted for “To be a company that inspires and fulfils your curiosity.”
Then there’s Kickstarter’s brief but perfect “To help bring creative projects to life.”
3. Be Aspirational but Factual
Your mission should set the bar for your business aspirations but be grounded in fact. Your stakeholders, employees, customers and potential investors need to buy into your mission and believe in your business and its potential.
4. Your Mission Can Evolve With Your Business
Amazon started out selling books online in the mid-1990s. Since then it has evolved into a global juggernaut. I’ve as yet, been unable to find their original mission statement (if they indeed had one at the very beginning), but whatever it was, I doubt they foresaw this in their wildest dreams in the early days:
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
5. Be Original
There are some great examples out there and key elements to consider when crafting your mission statement, but you need to make it yours. Be original, glean what you can from big businesses, but focus on your strengths, USP and brand to create fresh copy that’s unique to your business.
I hope these tips have been of use. Sometimes drafting the shortest piece of copy takes the most time – but it’s worth the effort to get it just right. Remember a mission statement is there to set out your stall to the world and provide insight and direction.