Why do you choose to buy from one business but not another? Aside from price and convenience, often times it’s because you feel an affinity for that business based on its core values. How these values and goals are communicated to you, as a consumer, has a significant effect on how you discover, interact with, share and feel about a business. In this post, we’ll dive into what a mission statement is, how it varies from a vision statement and examine how 20 of the best mission statements in the world today inspire action.
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement establishes the “who,” the “what” and the “why” of an organization. It is used to guide the everyday and long-term actions of the business. In addition, your mission statement acts as a flag that easily identifies what you strive for and who you represent.
For example, a coffee company may declare in their mission statement that they seek to produce the best coffee experience for their customers while doing the most good for the areas where they source their beans.
How a Mission Statement Differs From a Vision Statement
While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, mission statements differ from vision statements in how they break out and express the goals of a business. In a sense, these statements are representative of the long-term and short-term, respectively.
The vision statement is the “what”—the broad view of the master plan you’re aiming to achieve.
The mission statement is the “how”—the way in which you plan to accomplish your grand vision.
To give an example of how these statements differ in practice, let’s review how the construction company Caterpillar approaches this strategy.
“Our vision is a world in which all people’s basic needs—such as shelter, clean water, sanitation, food and reliable power—are fulfilled in an environmentally sustainable way and a company that improves the quality of the environment and the communities where we live and work.”
“Our mission is to enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet.”
Caterpillar establishes what each of these declarations will be about within the first two words of the sentence. The vision statement describes the ideal environment in which Caterpillar would like to work and live, clearly covering their “what.” The mission statement supports their ambitions by illustrating “how” they plan to take action on that vision and make it a reality.
Matching Your Mission to Your Customer’s Values
Exploring the different levels of your business’s purpose allows you to articulate why you exist, how your organization sees its role in the market, how you improve people’s lives and what you’re doing to accomplish those ideals.
For example, one of the core values that matter most for today’s consumers is sustainability. According to a 2015 report from Nielsen, 66% of global consumers are more willing to spend money with brands who make or provide sustainable products, an 11% increase from 2014. Clearly, there is a growing number of consumers who are looking for products that are both good for them and good for the world as a whole.
While sustainability may not be one of your business’s core values, or be particularly important to your customers, your “version” of sustainability is vital to attracting and connecting with consumers. Distilling your intentions to create a dynamic and inspiring mission statement brings the right kind of attention to your business and puts you closer to fulfilling your objectives.
20 Examples of the Best Mission Statements in 2019
Before you begin the process of crafting a mission statement in earnest, it’s good to get a sense of some of the best company mission statements in today’s market, and how they inspire action.
Sometimes cutting right to the point is exactly what’s best for your business. These companies don’t waste any time telling you exactly what they do and how and/or why they do it.
“To provide our policyholders with as near perfect protection, as near perfect service as is humanly possible and to do so at the lowest possible cost.”
“To move the web forward and give web designers and developers the best tools and services in the world.”
“To rescue independent business owners from the nightmare of archaic POS, and replace it with something beautiful, simple and affordable.”
“The DataDog team is on a mission to bring sanity to IT Management.”
“To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
“We save people money so they can live better.”
“Our mission is to reconnect people through transportation and bring communities together.”
“We’re a presentation resource, on a mission to reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories and inspire their audiences to act.”
Without customers, a business is nothing. In their mission statements, these companies (including Nordstrom, the personal favorite company of Fast Capital 360 CEO, Barb Weidner, who says: “I will go out of my way to shop there”) make it clear to everyone that their goal is to serve their customers through whatever means necessary.
“In our store or online, wherever new opportunities arise—Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible. The one constant? John W. Nordstrom’s founding philosophy: Offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value.”
“To improve its customers’ financial lives so profoundly, they couldn’t imagine going back to the old way.”
“We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use.”
“To provide the best customer service possible. Deliver “WOW” through service.”
“Dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and Company Spirit.”
While the purpose of each mission statement is to clearly define the company’s objective, some are simply much better at it than others. These mission statements are meant to evoke a different type of response from the reader—a feeling of wonder, excitement and, perhaps, even a sense of belonging. Vetri Cucina, for example, is another one of Barb’s favorites. “If that was the only place I could eat out ever again,” she says, “I would be fine.”
“Water.org empowers families with access to safe water and sanitation through affordable financing.”
“To offer designer eye wear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”
“Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world.”
“Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
“At Vetri Cucina, our team is constantly traveling, expanding our knowledge and discovering new preparations, ingredients, products and flavors from around the world. It is our pleasure to translate these travels and our passion to your table.”
“Drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics and space exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality and stewardship of Earth.”
“To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”
The 3 Keys to Achieving Your Best Mission Statement
After seeing some of the best examples of mission statements, it’s time to create your own. Before you begin, there are three components you need to include to make your statement as impactful as it can possibly be.
1. Start With Why
In his infamous TED Talk, author Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” As Sinek tells it, “Very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do.”
He goes on to stress the importance of understanding your business’s purpose and the essential beliefs your business holds dear and why they matter for everyone. By stating your beliefs clearly, you are placing a flag in the ground that rallies both employees and customers to your business, simplifying the “buy-in” process.
Give people a reason to come to work, not just a place to go to work.
— Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) June 6, 2016
The more your “why” connects, the easier it will be to find the right people for your business.
2. Describe Your Purpose
Whatever your business “does,” this is the place to say it. Whether you sell auto insurance, manufacture construction equipment or provide daycare services for young children, clarity is key. Much like Erie Insurance and Walmart communicate in their mission statements, sometimes there may be no need to add any flowery language—simply sharing how you can help people is more than enough.
3. Describe How You Achieve Your Purpose
Your mission statement does not need to provide a full rundown of how your business achieves your goals. Instead, target one or two specific pillars of your core values that best encapsulate how your business achieves its goals.
For example, Marriott’s mission statement is “To enhance the lives of our customers by creating and enabling unsurpassed vacation and leisure experiences.” Their first core value is “We put people first”, which is further explained as “Take care of associates and they will take care of the customers.”
As you think about this for your own mission statement, consider how you want your core values to be reflected in your business’s roadmap, actions and communications. By keeping your strongest core values top of mind, your mission statement will convey the message you set out to achieve at the start.
How Does Your Company Compare to the Best Mission Statements?
Each statement we’ve looked at is successful for its own reason. But ultimately, there are four characteristics of successful mission statements they all have in common: They are foundational, original, memorable and wearable. Here’s how to tell if your mission statement meets those same standards.
Is It Foundational?
Does your mission statement clearly articulate why your business exists?
Is It Original?
Your mission statement should be just that—yours. When compared to your competition, can you still recognize your statement as yours?
Is It Memorable?
Is your business’s statement worth remembering? Are there words that evoke enough feeling? Does it cut to the chase immediately? The more concise and direct you make it, the easier it will be to recall.
Is It Wearable?
Your team lives with your mission statement every day. Is it something they’re proud to display on their desk? In their cubicle? On a shirt? If the answer is no, it’s time to rethink your statement.
Your Mission Starts Now
Making the decision to buy from a business might seem like a very black and white process; if you have a need, you seek to find a solution, plain and simple. But there is more to it than simply supply and demand. Feeling a connection to a business based on its core values creates loyalty, advocacy and a feeling of belonging that goes well beyond the transaction.
Your business’s mission statement is what brings people in and how they initially and ultimately view you. Each interaction they have with your business should support your vision and mission, reinforcing that their decision to trust you with their hard-earned dollars was the right thing for them.
Now, it’s time for you to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own business. How will your words inspire action and teach your fellow entrepreneurs in the years to come?