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Branding Basics for Small Businesses/ Part I: Overview

interlocking puzzle pieces reading MISSION, VISION, VALUES

If you are not clear on your underlying brand, your PR, communications and marketing efforts will be inconsistent, confusing and arguably a waste of your money and time. This series of posts are intended to serve as a virtual branding "workshop," allowing you to work through and make actionable decisions about:

  • Your organization's mission, vision and values

  • Various other brand aspects such as look, feel, tone, etc. (this especially helpful as you are preparing to create a logo and build a website)

  • Your core messaging/talking & selling points

  • Your differentiating factors

  • How you came to be (your origin story)

  • And, most important, who you want to become (or what PR & marketing can help you to overcome)

Mission. Vision. Values.

Perhaps more than any individual product you sell or service you provide, these core aspects of your identity are what will draw potential clients, customers and possibly even press to you—and keep them there consistently, interested, engaged and loyal.

So, what’s the difference between mission, vision and values? Just as with the terms “goals” and “objectives,” some might feel that these concepts are all referring to basically the same thing, or at least confusing “marketing speak.”

An easy break down of these three concepts:

  • Your mission statement typically describes your current business—what it is, who it’s for, why and how you’re doing it (think: purpose). Core values are often also reflected here.

  • A vision statement is similar, but tends to be more forward looking and aspirational/philosophical. It describes who you want to be in the future, the change you want to affect in the world. This, too, will often reflect your values.

  • Since values are impliedly also a part of one’s mission and vision statements, there isn’t an absolute need to have a separate values statement. However, some people break their values out even further, with a statement that describes the ways in which their organization is committed to impacting and interacting with the world, and each other.

Another way to approach these concepts is to think of vision as what you want to be/accomplish, mission as how you plan to get there and values as the underlying core principles that will drive it all.

There is a great deal of overlap and corporate approaches to these concepts differ widely. Some companies will jump straight to vision. Others will combine two or three of these concepts, or categorize it all simply as their "purpose."

Therefore, while the marketing gods may strike me down for saying this, from my perspective the labels ultimately matter less than the fact that you are considering these questions, and mindfully incorporating the answers into your business.

The labels matter less than the fact that you are considering these questions about "mission," "vision" and "values," and mindfully incorporating the answers into your business.

Many organizations will post these statements on their website and other marketing materials, in the "About Us" section.

In our next post, “Mission, Vision + Values Possible,” we will tackle these individual concepts, providing some prompts and examples that will allow you to craft your own.



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