When was the last time you looked at your mission statement? Your vision? Do you even have one?
The words Vision and Mission get thrown around all the time, but what they are and why they matter may not always be clear.
Think of it this way:
Your vision is your end goal. Your mission is your plan to achieve it.
The Importance of Vision and Mission
Mission and vision are every brand’s first steps to a focused path forward. You’d never go on a long trip without a map – especially if your very livelihood depended on it.
A clear sense of direction is critical to your business’s success. It empowers your team to make decisions that push the business toward a common goal. It’s also how you attract customers that are ready to help you achieve it.
Attract the right talent.
Target the right audience.
Send the right message.
Set the right expectations.
Make the right decision.
Let's take Southwest Airlines for example. Their vision is "To be the world's most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline".
Now, with this in mind, imagine a flight attendant decided to sing Happy Birthday to a passenger. Would this bring Southwest closer to its vision? Sure, we all love a good birthday song.
Now what if that same flight attendant suggested that passengers on every red-eye flight receive a complimentary pillow and blanket? While passengers might appreciate it, the effort of procuring and sanitizing over 50 pillows and blankets after each flight, along with the increased clean-up time for the crew, would cause Southwest's profitability and efficiency to take a noticeable hit – veering away from their vision.
Vision and mission are indispensable leadership tools, helping businesses make even the heaviest of decisions with clarity and efficiency.
Mission and Vision in Practice
To see how other companies leverage these tools in their own organizations, let’s take a look at the vision and mission statements of some of the world’s top brands.
The Goal (Vision): To be the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world.
The Plan (Mission): To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
The Goal (Vision): To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
The Plan (Mission): To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
The Goal (Vision): To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
The Plan (Mission): To offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
Notice how each company’s vision builds off of its mission, a picture of the legacy each brand exists to achieve. If you covered them up, you could still guess the company behind each statement. This is the level of authenticity and memorability brands should strive for.
You've probably never seen most of these statements before, which brings up an important consideration in crafting your own: your mission and vision don’t have to be public. Shake off the external pressures to say "the right" thing. Dig in to what's true to your organization and the right people will flock to you naturally.
Let's get to work.
Values: The Root of Your Mission & Vision
Before you tackle the big picture goals in your mission and vision, it helps to understand what beliefs these goals are rooted in. This is where brand values come in.
Your values are the 4-5 beliefs that anchor and influence every decision your brand makes. If your vision is the destination, and your mission is the path, your values are the guardrails orienting you in the right direction.
Vision: Start from the End
Now that you have your priorities straight, let’s get to goal-setting.
Every brand starts with the intention to improve the way something is done. Your vision is that goal in a statement – a concrete, memorable, and succinct explanation of your reason for being.
As we saw in the Southwest example, a good vision statement creates a clear vetting point for every decision you make. Will this bring me closer to X, or further away?
Your vision should be ambitious and aspirational, rooted in who you want to be tomorrow but relevant to who you are today.
🏁 Start Here
Ask yourself these questions:
- Where is the X on your road map, your goal destination?
- It’s 10 years in the future. What does that place look like? How about at 50 years?
- What has come into being as a result of your efforts?
Vision: Dos & Dont’s
✅ DO – Make your vision statement as short and easy to remember as possible. A good vision is 2 sentences or less. If you can make it shorter and still get the big picture across, do it. Less words means you’re only using the best words.
🚫 DON’T – Incorporate all the different facets of your business into your vision. You shouldn’t have to over explain it. Focus on painting a big picture and save the details for your business plan.
✅ DO – Write your vision as if no one outside the company will see it. Whether you share it with the world is up to you, but be authentic to yourself first.
🚫 DON’T – Approach your vision as marketing copy. By trying to appease the masses you lose sight of what’s important to you and your organization. This leads to an inauthentic statement that your team will probably have a hard time buying into.
Mission: Fuel Your Journey
Now that you know what you’re tracking toward, think about how you’ll get there. What are the steps you need to take every day to reach your final destination? This is your mission.
Your mission makes your vision actionable, turning an abstract goal into something more tangible. When the going gets tough, your mission keeps you going – a culture-building tool to keep your team focused and driven for the journey ahead.
🏁 Start Here
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you show up to work every day?
- Why do you exist beyond making money?
Mission: Do’s and Don’ts
✅ DO – Think big picture. While your vision is your pot of gold, your mission should still lead you over the rainbow.
🚫 DON’T – Get caught up in tactical details. Your mission is not intended to be a checklist of all the things you need to complete from 9-5. Think higher level – why do you clock in?
✅ DO – Consider what makes you different. Reference your values to speak from your brand’s unique point of view and create a statement that resonates with your team, and your why.
🚫 DON’T – Be pompous or long-winded. Remember, this should inspire you first and foremost. Avoid the marketing mumbo jumbo!
Want more tips on writing a powerful mission statement? We’ve got you covered.
Pay Attention to Command Attention
Concentration is critical when it comes to your brand. But sometimes, you have to zoom out in order to see clearly. If you need some perspective, hiring an outside expert can equip you with the necessary insight to keep your brand and team focused.