How to write the perfect mission statement

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  • Mission statements summarize the main goals, objectives and values ​​of an organization. He succinctly answers the question: “Why does the organization exist?”
  • Without a mission statement, potential customers and the public might not understand or appreciate what your small business stands for, or even what its main services or products are. This will make it difficult for your customers to understand what sets your business apart from your competition.
  • Mission statements are not just about defining the purpose of the organization. They can also be inspiring (although not all are).
  • This article is for small business owners and leaders of organizations who want to learn how to create a mission statement for their brand.

Developing a mission statement is a long process that involves the contribution of many team members who fully understand the business, its employees, customers, products or services and industry.

Once complete, your organization can share its mission statement so that consumers, employees, investors and other stakeholders know exactly what your organization does (or doesn’t do), what it values ​​and why it exists. .

What is a mission statement and why businesses need it

A mission statement is a statement of what your business does and why it exists. This message is designed for both internal and external audiences, and it should spark interest in the organization and its brand.

The best mission statements have two main purposes. First, they educate, by sharing the “what, how and why” the organization does what it does. The second goal, if it’s a well-written mission statement, is to inspire. The best mission statements inspire and challenge people to learn more about the brand and become supporters.

The more succinct your mission statement, the more likely it is to resonate with the public. A mission statement that is too long and / or difficult to remember falls flat. A good test to see if your mission statement hits the mark is whether your employees can recite it.

The first example of an effective mission statement we’ll share is from TED: “Spread ideas. In two short words, TED describes what it does and why people might be interested in knowing more about it.

Other companies are taking a more creative approach. LEGO, whose mission statement is “Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”, clearly defines what the company does (“inspire and develop”) and who its target customers are (“the builders of tomorrow”).

In 2009, the CEO of LEGO said: “We make it very clear the values ​​we promise to everyone we interact with – whether they are colleagues, retail partners, the community at large. large or – most important of all, of course – children we care deeply about. “Its mission is woven across the entire organization, this is when mission statements come to life.

When companies don’t have well-constructed mission statements (or no mission statement at all), customers, prospects, and the public are forced to identify for themselves what the company is and why. she exists.

Key to take away: A business needs a thoughtful and succinct mission statement that defines in clear, direct, and concise terminology what the organization does and why it exists.

The differences between mission and vision statements

Not only are mission and vision statements important, they have different purposes.

A vision statement is about who you want to be and how you want to impact people (or society).

Questions that help define what will eventually become of a vision statement are:

  • What are the goals and dreams of the organization?
  • What will the world be like if we are successful?
  • What problem (s) does the organization solve for the greater good?
  • Who and / or what do we inspire to change in the long term?

A mission statement is focused on the present, while a vision statement is focused on the future. For example, consider Airbnb’s mission and vision statements:

  • Airbnb’s mission statement is “Belonging anywhere.” Short and to the point, the post says you can stay anywhere in the world – and feel included – when doing business with Airbnb.
  • Airbnb’s vision statement is “Tap into the universal human desire to belong – the desire to feel welcomed, respected and appreciated for who you are, no matter where you may be. permeates the philosophy of Airbnb.

Key to take away: A mission statement differs from a vision statement in that it addresses today, while a vision statement addresses the future.

How to create a mission statement

According to Chris Bart, retired professor of strategy and governance at McMaster University, a well-written mission statement has three essential elements:

  1. The key market in which the company is located. Who is your target audience? What industry does the company serve?
  1. The contribution made, or the “what” of the business. What product or service does your business offer? How does it improve humanity or society?
  2. Distinctions between your solution and the competing ones. What makes the product or service unique? Why should the public buy yours rather than the competition?

While incorporating the three elements above, ask yourself and your team probing questions to understand who your business serves, what your organization does and how it does it. These questions include:

  • Why do we exist?
  • What are we doing?
  • How do we use our products (or services) to achieve our goals?
  • Who do we serve?
  • How do we serve them?
  • What do we do better than anyone else?
  • What makes us different from our competitors?
  • How do our clients describe us?

Creating a precise and inspiring mission statement is not purely a philosophical exercise. It should also be practical. In other words, a mission statement should make sense to those who read it, whether or not they know your organization.

Keep these four tips in mind when defining your organizational mission:

  1. Make the connection to your business obvious. People who don’t know your business but have read your mission statement should walk away with a clear and concise understanding of what your organization does and why it exists.
  1. Keep it short, but informative. Keep the statement under 25 words. If it’s longer than that, people won’t read it and remember your business.
  1. Talk to stakeholders. Before finalizing your mission statement, talk to as many stakeholders as possible to see if it makes sense to them. Use employees, board members, long-time customers and trusted suppliers as a sounding board.
  1. Develop a long-term mission. This can be one of the most difficult parts of writing a mission statement. Defining who or what your organization is today can be easier than providing predictions. It cannot always be done well. As such, don’t be afraid to update your mission as events and your business evolves.

To remember : When writing your mission statement, be brief, to the point, and to the point both now and in the long term. Solicit feedback from stakeholders to make sure the mission statement is clear and aligns with company goals and principles.

Examples of effective mission statements

Here are more examples of effective mission statements from well-known brands. These mission statements briefly define the organization, its purpose and its impact on humanity:

  • Nike: “Bringing inspiration and innovation to all the athletes in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
  • JetBlue: “To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground. ”
  • Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
  • LinkedIn: Create economic opportunities for every member of the global workforce. ”
  • Microsoft (early days): A computer on every desk and in every home. “
  • Disney: Create happiness through magical experiences. “
  • Ford: “To make our cars better, our people happier and our planet a better place to be.”

To remember : As you build your own mission statement, study the mission statements of your favorite brands for inspiration.


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