Updated: Nov 6, 2022
By Tania Zamorsky
In today’s continuing discussion of mission and vision statements, we will be offering "live workshop" prompts to help you to create—or revise—your own. We'll even play along!
As we reviewed in our first, branding overview post, a mission statement typically describes your current business—what it is, who it’s for, how and why. Your vision statement describes what you aspire to accomplish ultimately, in the future. And, finally, some people go a step further, with a statement or list of values that further speaks to their core principles and the driving force behind it all (but we'll save this discussion for the next post).
In whatever format you choose to do so (notebook, iPhone note, etc.), jot down your answers to the following questions:
What do you do or make/provide?
For whom are you creating or offering this product or service?
How? (What makes you different? Unique patented technology, innovation, experts, experience, great prices, uniquely convenient, etc.)
And, finally, why? To solve what immediate problems or challenges AND because of what underlying philosophy, principles or values?
While the answers to these questions will give you the necessary puzzle pieces to pull from, all of these components will not make it into your final statements. This is a good thing, since mission and vision statements, anyway, are typically distilled down into one sentence each.
If your answers to the questions are very long, that may seem a bit like trying to cram a whole lot of clothes into a very tiny suitcase—but it’s also a fun exercise, especially if you keep in mind that there is no one, right answer. Any extra content can and indeed should be used for other purposes, e.g., future website copy of other marketing collateral.
Based simply upon our answers to the questions above, Bincubate's starting mission and vision statements started out looking something like this:
Bincubate Mission: "To educate, inspire and empower small business owners and entrepreneurs, especially those that may be feeling left out of the process or disenfranchised in some way, and to give them access to the sophisticated tools and strategies that the big guys get - and often pay big bucks for."
Bincubate Vision: "Through articles, interviews and other educational offerings (including from talented professionals in complementary industries), to build an ever-expanding "library" of resources for small business owners, on various topics.
While you should NOT copy anyone else's statement, Googling “best mission and vision statements” will give you a wide range of other helpful examples to guide and inspire you. In fact, as we review a few examples from well-known companies*, consider playing along with us as we create alternate draft statements that are similar in general approach (elements, rhythm and style). Let's start with:
IKEA Mission: Offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
IKEA Vision: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.” [Our vision also goes beyond home furnishing. We want to create a better everyday for all people impacted by our business.]
These statements effectively drive home the concepts of beauty, functionality and affordability for the masses. In the general style and rhythm of IKEA's, Bincubate's revised mission and vision statements might look something like this:
Bincubate (IKEA-style) Mission: “Provide creative and actionable ideas, information and inspiration to empower small businesses and entrepreneurs, who may otherwise not yet have access to sophisticated PR, marketing and other key strategies.”
Bincubate (IKEA-style) Vision: "To create a vibrant and ever-expanding educational resource for small business owners, especially those with small budgets but big dreams."
What might your IKEA-inspired mission statement look like? _______________________________ What about your vision statement? _______________________________
Don't overthink it. Think of the elements of your small business that are most important to you and just get something down on the page.
Let's turn to another well-known company:
Starbucks Mission: "To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time."
Starbucks Vision: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
We love the expanding progression of images from person, to cup, to neighborhood, and the picture this paints of a comforting and collective daily ritual. Trying something like this for Bincubate might yield:
Bincubate (Starbucks-style) Mission: "To inform, inspire and empower the small business owner - one proven tip, tool and PR & marketing tactic at a time.
Bincubate (Starbucks-style) Vision: "As our educational and inspirational offerings continue to expand, to become a go-to resource and "library" for small business on various relevant topics that will help them grow.
What might your Starbucks-inspired mission statement look like? _______________________________ What about your vision statement? _______________________________
Again, there is not right or answer at this stage. These are just prompts to help you figure out the core concepts that resonate most with you and your business.
And here's the last sample we'll look at and attempt to emulate, in terms of general rhythm and style:
TED Mission: "Spread ideas."
TED Vision: "We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world."
The shortest of our sample set, TED's mission statement is playfully brilliant for its simplicity. In only two short and sweet words (they even did away with the "to!"), TED has handily arrived at the heart of exactly what they do. And with their vision statement, they explain what they hope to do in the future - namely, change the world.
Perhaps challenge yourself to come up with a two-word mission statement of your own. We'll go first, albeit cheating slightly with the hyphen:
Bincubate (TED-style) Mission: "Boost small-biz."
Bincubate (TED-style) Vision: "We believe small businesses and entrepreneurs deserve the benefit of the "big company" PR, marketing and other best practices."
What does your TED-inspired mission statement look like? _______________________________ What about your vision statement? _______________________________
Which version of Bincubate’s mission and vision statements, above, do you like the best? (Tell us in the comments!) And even more important, what version of your own mission and vision statement did you like best? Will you keep tinkering, or have you arrived at a final?
Crafting mission statement concepts can be a great group or crowdsourcing activity, by the way - so don't be afraid to open up this brainstorming session to friends, colleagues and team members - and even possibly your customers, who can help you to better understand what you mean to them.
Again, once you have arrived at your final mission and values statements, don't discard or delete any of the "work product" you used to get there. Everything you came up with – from your answers to the questions, to your different statement variations – can be repurposed in your website, marketing materials or other communications. (Nose-to-tail branding, baby!)
Also keep in mind that, as you mature as a company, your statements might change too - and that is fine. While, for the sake of brand identity and consistency, they shouldn't be changed too drastically or often, they can definitely expand and take new shape along with you.
If you have any questions, or would like some help coming up with your OWN mission or vision statement, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*All corporate mission and vision statements quoted and discussed here are the intellectual property of their owners and were current to the best of our knowledge at the time this article was researched. Please contact us with any corrections or other concerns.