Strong & Confident Mission Statement

When it comes to business, planning is even more crucial to success than it is in our personal lives.

To-do lists. Shopping lists. Budgets. Vacation schedules. We all know that great planning creates better results in our personal lives.

Planning also helps you determine how to write a mission statement.

And if you're wondering how to write a mission statement, you've come to the right place.

We've got the answers you need.

But what guides an organization in preparing for optimal business outcomes?

Their planning, and their mission statement.

In most cases, while success can and should be an organization's goal, the best results come from a plan that identifies the necessary steps along the path to prosperity.

But before we get into you mission, let's take just a moment to define what is success actually is.

Organizations define success in different ways.

"What is Success?"

Meeting a monthly sales goal may be great news financially, but if service and quality control took a back seat to sales, a company might find its success to be short-lived.

Smart organizations develop goals that look beyond immediate results to create a sustainable model of success.

These goals involve creating policies and procedures so that all the complex moving parts of a business hit the mark when it comes to sales, service, quality, and more.

Most importantly...

Organizations can operate more efficiently towards their goals when they encourage the right mix of work ethic and culture in their employees.

growth

For many businesses, it's deeper than money.

Want to develop consistency in your organization?

Create a mission.

To-do lists. Shopping lists. Budgets. Vacation schedules. We all know that great planning creates better results in our personal lives.

Planning also helps you determine how to write a mission statement.

And if you're wondering how to write a mission statement, you've come to the right place.

We've got the answers you need.

One of the most effective ways of keeping everyone in an organization on the same page when it comes to success is to have a meaningful and clearly defined mission statement.

Understanding a Mission Statement

Ok, so a mission statement is essential, but what does this component of business planning entail? Isn't "to be the best, sell a lot, and make buckets of cash" enough of a stated goal?

When you are trying to figure out how to write a mission statement for your business, you need to look beyond single goals.

For most businesses, while increasing sales is a good thing, a strong statement of goals and ideals is indispensable for attaining more closed deals.

A mission statement is a formal declaration of not only the goals but the philosophy of an organization.

Mission statements tie into all aspects of business operations and set forth guiding principles that define an organization and ultimately state its purpose.

So, right off the bat, you can see that a mission statement is much more profound than sales goals. It's all about an organization's reason for being.

Your mission is your "why."

man using computer

A mission statement answers the question "why?"  This seemingly simple idea — understanding an organization's purpose — can be elusive for many businesses.

A mission statement answers the question 

 "why?"

Think of your favorite neighborhood restaurant, the one that has been there churning out delicious food for years. 

Even if this small business has never written a mission statement, it likely has one that powers everything it does. 

Smiling Restaurant Owner
Staff Attending Team Meeting In Empty Dining Room

Staff Attending Team Meeting In Empty Dining Room.

If you ask the check or owner why they are in business, they will probably tell you that they are not there to make money by cooking food.

Instead, this restaurant's main goal most likely is to make its customers happy.

Often, a simple statement that defines a business by its desired image and how it accomplishes goals is surprisingly effective. 

The role of a mission statement in creating a business identity.

A mission statement also answers the question "who."

Ask yourself a simple question: who are you?

If you are like most, you probably can come up with a few sentences about who you are, and this sense of self-identity likely guides your actions.

The same applies to business organizations. A mission statement should define a company's identity.

How does identity relate to the mission?

Who are you?

A company needs to know who it is in order to reach goals.

In our previous restaurant example, a clearly defined mission statement might identify the eatery as a place for comfort food, or as a destination for special events.

A clear identity helps avoid stepping off the path to your goals.

Mission s​tatements from a customer's perspective.

customers perspective

Customers like missions statements, even if they're never seen.

We can see the importance of identity from a customer's vantage point. The identity benefits that come from a mission statement show up in everything that a business does.

Have you ever been to a restaurant that lacks consistency? Having wildly different experiences during different visits can destroy the image of a business.

Mission statements, however, are mostly invisible to customers. Few people say, "I'm going to buy this car because I like the company's mission statement."

Of course, several businesses wear their mission statement proudly and incorporate it into their marketing, but even then customers only see a glimpse of the mission.

Microsoft Historical Mission Statement

Here's the bottom line:

If you want to know how to write a mission statement, you need to understand your customers first.

Customer interacting with Owner

How mission statements influence employee behavior and job satisfaction.

More likely, mission statements speak to employees. They provide the answers to who, what, when, why, how, and where.

Armed with these answers, employees can deliver on promises to customers.

Does your company have an ethical or moral compass? A mission statement can provide such a guide.

This is why mission statements are so important.

The difference between clearly defined goals and marketing tag lines:

cartoon man wearing eye glasses talking

A mission statement is much different than a marketing strategy, although in many companies these two concepts can intersect.

If you see your business first and foremost as a solution provider for your customers, you probably are going to tout this in marketing materials. 

Example:

"Why shop with us? We care about our customers, that's why!"

Marketing slogans, however, serve a single purpose:

driving new business.


They don't always reflect a complete mission. A mission statement is more profound than advertising pitches.

It is an excellent tool for organizational management, customer retention, operations, and more.

However, a mission statement can fall flat as a marketing device. And vice versa. 

Here's why:

While ideally, a mission statement is brief, it is rare for an organization to be able to nail an effective mission statement that fits into the short-attention-span world of marketing.

Mission statements have to cover a lot of ground, but a marketing message only has to compel someone to buy.


typewriter work

Another reason why marketing and mission statements do not always align is that mission statements are directed inward, for the most part.

Guiding principles do not always speak to external audiences. In addition, the language in a mission statement is formal and they are full of business lingo.

Of course, there are highly effective mission statements that are extremely simple and concise, but this is the exception.

Mission statements are powerful.

This can be good or bad...


A mission statement serves as a foundation. It provides direction. Employees can refer to it in decision making. 

Management should often consult their mission statements before making significant organizational changes. 

As with building a house, a shaky foundation cannot be fortified by piling on more walls. This is the power of learning how to write a mission statement — the process creates a reason for existence that drives future decisions.

A well-thought-out mission statement can support a vast organization. But if a mission statement fails to resonate, or is mismatched for an organization, success will be elusive.

Strong mission statements can drive success.

Put Money Where your mouth is

The most successful organizations not only write mission statements but live by their words.

Promoting a mission statement throughout the workplace culture increases productivity. When a mission statement resonates with employees, customers benefit through better interactions.

But when an employee's job-related goals are limited to picking up a paycheck, then there is a severe misalignment between corporate and employee mission.

Weak or unclear mission statements can cause misdirection

If employees do not fully understand a company's purpose, how can they be expected to help in meeting goals?

If a business doesn't have a mission statement, what principles guide employee conduct? It's easy to see how a business without a mission statement can seem rudderless.

And while your employees are out at sea without a sense of direction, how will customers feel?

.

Manager sitting at desk, teaching employee

Strong mission statements can drive success

man working

The most successful organizations not only write mission statements but live by their words.

Promoting a mission statement throughout the workplace culture increases productivity. When a mission statement resonates with employees, customers benefit through better interactions.

But when an employee's job-related goals are limited to picking up a paycheck, then there is a severe misalignment between corporate and employee mission.

Mission statements can ultimately determine the success or failure of a business.

However, before you can really get to work on figuring out how to write a mission statement, you first must distinguish vision from mission.

We can hear you asking, isn't vision the same thing as mission? Let's take a close look at the interplay between vision and mission.

The Importance of Vision in an Organization

vision statement captures your dream

If a mission statement is an organization's philosophy, what is a vision statement? When we talk about vision in a business setting, we mean the future.

A business should have aspirations for tomorrow. These hopes and dreams may relate to a mission statement, but mission is about today.

A mission statement provides direction for the next step in front of an employee or the business as a whole. Vision is aspirational. If a company follows its mission statement, it will hopefully reach its vision.


Mission statements focus on immediate goals

mission statements focus on immediate goals

Vision. Mission. Marketing. The differences can seem quite subtle, especially to a customer or outsider.

Let's look at an example for clarification on the critical differences between mission and vision. The Alzheimer's Association has a highly focused mission statement.

It reads in part:

"Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research."

manager sitting

If you know nothing about the organization or its activities, this simple and straightforward mission statement tells much.

The audience immediately understands goals and has an idea of what kind of work the association does.


Vision statements are aspirations

Now consider the Alzheimer's Association's vision statement:

"A world without Alzheimer's disease."

vision statements are aspirations

While a mission talks about how an organization is going to accomplish goals, vision is the prize.

It is the shiny day on the beach at the end of a long hard journey. Vision may be elusive. It can change. These are essential considerations in how to write a mission statement.

For another example, think of personal goals.

If you have a personal vision statement — and many people have found success with vision boards and other methods of visualizing change and success — do you call it a day once you meet your goal?

No, of course not. Instead, you will likely redefine your vision.

If you wanted to lose weight and successfully do so, your vision might evolve into the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.

While vision statements are essential as beacons for the future, you'll notice that they lack substance.

There is no roadmap.

man in suit thumbs up


A vision statement throws out an ideal situation and leaves it to the mission statement to determine the best route.


Examples of Powerful and Effective Mission Statements

powerful and effective mission statements

For a better idea of how to write a mission statement, look no further than some of the top global businesses.

Each of the following has mastered the art of crafting mission statements that are relevant to their brand and drive the pursuit of goals.

Many companies will find that their mission statements may seem similar to others in the same field. This is fine. A mission statement does not necessarily have to be unique or groundbreaking.

As you'll see, some of the most successful businesses have quite simple missions. Simplicity works when the words provide purpose and guidance.


Google's mission gets right to the point

Everyone knows Google.

Over its 20-plus years of existence, its name has become a verb used by people of all ages.

Today Google's search engine business is just a part of its many business activities, but the importance of searching the internet is evident in its mission:

"To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

google site
laptop and phone on a table

This simple mission statement works as a guiding principle for the company because it encapsulates exactly what most people want from Google.


It is vague, yet it specifically defines the company's benefits to customers.


The reason we all "Google" things, is because Google perfected organizing the world's information and helping users retrieve the information they need.

Now, as we all know, Google does much more than help people search the internet. Its search engine, however, powers most of the internet and built the company into a vast enterprise.


But, even when you consider this mission statement alongside its other related companies, such as Android, you'll see that the underlying message is still relevant.


Unlike many mission statements, Google's speaks strongly to both employee and consumer.


eyes

AirBnB's mission statement makes you feel at home

AirBnB's customers choose to work with the company for flexibility and value, but also because they prefer to stay in a home rather than a hotel.


Maybe the perception is that in a hotel, you don't often feel 100 percent comfortable.


In an apartment, there are creature comforts from home. You can fix a snack in the kitchen, relax on the couch, and experience living in your destination city or area.


airbnb mission statement makes you feel at home

AirBnB's mission statement delivers a powerful message in four words:

"You can belong anywhere."

This mission statement cuts right to the heart of why AirBnB is successful. Some people prefer hotels, but others want to feel like they aren't a tourist.

Like they belong.

AirBnB's mission statement is one of several in this list that doubles as a marketing or branding slogan. You can even envision it as a tagline for a commercial.

But, it also informs the company's employees about the bigger picture:

AirBnB wants to make its users comfortable. When comfort and a sense of belonging are at the frontline of customer experience, employees have a simple compass for delivering customer satisfaction.


Casper's mission is to knock you out

While we are on the subject of places to sleep, let's talk about mattresses.

Anyone who pays attention to the onslaught of bed-in-a-box ads knows that we're in the midst of a revolution in how people buy mattresses.

Casper is a leading manufacturer of beds that show up on your doorstep. The company's mission statement is focused, short, and right on target:

"Great sleep, made simple."

This mission statement clearly identifies the problem the company seeks to solve, and it's service philosophy.

People want comfort and a good night's sleep, but they also don't want to have to stress out over a mattress purchase.


With Casper, customers don't even have to leave the house to buy the product.

So, how is this a good mission statement?


Even though it is somewhat vague, it is also to the point. Casper is quite simply on a mission to make comfortable sleep easier to attain.


 This mission statement fuels customer interactions.

Employees can ask, am I making this transaction simple?

Am I helping the customer get a good night's sleep?


Facebook: how mission statements sometimes need fixing

Can Facebook teach us how to write a mission statement?


This global social media giant has long been the type of company to flaunt its mission statement. It once focused its mission on bringing the world closer together.


Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.


People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

facebook site
facebook on cellphones

"Great sleep, made simple."

This mission statement clearly identifies the problem the company seeks to solve, and it's service philosophy.

People want comfort and a good night's sleep, but they also don't want to have to stress out over a mattress purchase.


With Casper, customers don't even have to leave the house to buy the product.

So, how is this a good mission statement?


Even though it is somewhat vague, it is also to the point. Casper is quite simply on a mission to make comfortable sleep easier to attain.


 This mission statement fuels customer interactions.

Employees can ask, am I making this transaction simple?

Am I helping the customer get a good night's sleep?


facebook
the famous people

While it still lists the connectivity mission on the company's Facebook page, it has shifted to a mission the company calls "social infrastructure."

Come again?


What is social inf​rastructure?

Zuckerberg is not entirely clear about this new mission, but it seems that the company wants to focus on quality connections and protecting users from a lot of the nonsense that proliferates on Facebook.

We've all heard about or witnessed hoaxes, misinformation, and other impediments to connectivity.

facebook icon
instagram icon

Facebook saw a problem with unfettered connection and adapted its mission to one that tries to curate accuracy, safety, and quality.

Most people would likely agree that using Facebook is akin to wasting time. Let's see what a productivity-minded company says about how to write a mission statement.


Headspace's mission is to put a world of self-help in your pocket

What if we spent some of our idle time looking inward? This is one question that Headspace, a meditation app developer, asks its users.

The answer aligns with its mission:

"To improve the health and happiness of the world."

white male
woman meditating

The company grew from presenting meditation events to developing an app for home use.

This radical company change came from event attendees, who wanted an easier way to experience the benefits of meditation anytime, anywhere.

Headspace's mission is memorable and clear. The company believes that meditation is an important, and under-used component of life.

So, it set out to improve the lives of everyone who can download an app onto a device.


This mission statement shows that a company's guiding principles can be simple, broad in scope, and highly effective at the same time.


For another look at how to write a mission statement, let's see what the most successful software company of all time has to say:


software

Microsoft hopes you'll achieve more

Huge companies tend to have either highly memorable mission statements or ones that drone on and on for pages.

We can't blame them. Some companies have massive operations and their hands in many different fields.

Microsoft, however, is a tech behemoth with a long history of success and it clearly knows how to write a mission statement.

Its corporate mission is:

microsoft

"To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."

Empowerment.  Achievement.
These are great words.

Microsoft sells things that make positive contributions to productivity. The balance between simplicity and strength here cannot be overstated.

Consider a Microsoft employee, perhaps a software or solutions sales representative.

So, it set out to improve the lives of everyone who can download an app onto a device.


This mission statement shows that a company's guiding principles can be simple, broad in scope, and highly effective at the same time.


For another look at how to write a mission statement, let's see what the most successful software company of all time has to say:


microsoft

Nordstrom's sage advice on customer service

Today, companies love to talk about customer experience. Many large businesses have C-level managers focused solely on this seemingly new focus.

We've long heard that "the customer is always right," but while that statement might be an overstatement, customer service has long been essential for success.

Department store retailer Nordstrom knows this because customer service has been its focus since its first Seattle store opened in 1901.


commitment to serve customer
service

The company's mission statement reflects this commitment to service:

"Offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality, and value."

Nordstrom backs its mission statement up with a century of legendary service. Its dedication to customer experience essentially created the prototype for pro-consumer retail sales.

One famous, and often repeated anecdote details a customer returning a set of snow tires to a Nordstrom in the 1970s.

How did this even come to pass?

The man had bought the tires several weeks before from a tire shop, then decided to return the tires. When he arrived at the tire shop, it was closed and replaced by a Nordstrom department store.

While most of us would probably drive away in frustration, this man went inside the store to explain his plight. Nordstrom — which is not a tire retailer — accepted the tires and refunded the man his money.


mission statement
target of mission statement

Let's refer to that mission statement. The best possible service means going out of one's way to please a customer.

Imagine the impression this transaction made on the customer. Where do you think he'd go shopping next time he needs to buy some clothing, a gift, or anything else that Nordstrom carried?

Here's the thing about mission statements. They can be a huge benefit, but they can just as easily be disconnected, nonsensical, or simply unwieldy.



 

Examples of Mission Statements That Fall Flat

The examples set by Google, Microsoft, Casper, Nordstrom, and others show the power a mission statement can have.

But power has a way of swinging in different directions if not well-managed. A lot of companies create mission statements that are essentially meaningless.

Don't be like these organizations.

be positive

Do you want to know how to write a mission statement that will have a positive impact on your business? 

Let's learn a bit about how not to write one.

How did Apple become successful with such a dog of a mission statement?

successful with mission statement

Apple is a modern-day success story that most businesses would love to emulate.

 Its mission statement, however, is not one to copy.

Apple's statement is long and detailed and has language like, "it's a privilege we hold dear."

"it's a privilege we hold dear."

Most of the mission statement is filled with self-congratulatory language. Apple talks about how awesome they are, without tying this to any sort of mission. It's an odd thing for such a successful business, especially since the company has not always been a customer favorite.

Mission statements like Apple's that focus on organization output serve to build pride within an organization. So, we won't totally knock Apple for its effort.

But employees of Apple have little in the way of guiding principles for their interactions, either direct or indirect, with customers. It's as if its mission is queued up for when a customer complains about high prices:

Apple store customer: "Wow, is this Macbook really $2,000?"

apple fun run

Apple store genius: "Yes, we make the best things."

While this sort of message may work for Apple, and this is not a customer-facing mission statement, most businesses cannot get far by merely patting themselves on the back.

If you have an innovative product or service that you think is the best — and if you don't think it's the best you should work on that — back it up with a mission that relates to goals and overall philosophy.

And by all means, make it concise, unlike this next one:

Avon: sit tight and listen to this mission statement...

we may be here for a while

Avon is a modern-day success story that most businesses would love to emulate.

 Its mission statement, however, is not one to copy.

Avon's statement is long and detailed and has language like,

Avon is a great company that developed an innovative way for people to make money

and enjoy quality cosmetic, toiletry, and other home products.

It also has a complex mission statement that spells out numerous core aspirations.

This 249-word document is comprehensive but lacks focus. Don't get us wrong, all the components of Avon's mission are laudable.

There is strong language about believing in opportunity, having integrity, exhibiting respect, developing trust, and embracing humility, but Avon could have found a single thread to act as a mission.

It could be the case that Avon has more on its plate than other companies. What screams out to us is that little of the core mission statement talks about its products and how they help people.

If you are looking for a model of how to write a mission statement, Avon's probably not the one.

Start small and focus on how you can provide value to customers. Everything else can go into a vision statement or ethical guide to accompany a human resources manual or investor's guide.

Another massive global company seems to have fallen asleep at the mission statement wheel. Or maybe it forgot to run a grammar check.

McDonald's has a plan to make you love them through confusion

eating frenchfries

McDonald's has an acceptably brief mission statement, but it doesn't seem to resonate.

It starts:

"McDonald's brand mission is to be our customers' favorite place and way to eat and drink."

Already it's off on a bad foot.

Favorite place to eat?

Even die-hard McDonald's fans probably won't tout the golden arches as the best.

Not to knock McDonald's or raise our noses at the brand, but that statement seems out of touch.

Again, lots of people love McDonald's, but it serves a specific function: to provide quality, delicious, fast food.

If you go to McDonald's you want hot, fresh, good-tasting food, served conveniently and at a good value.

McDonald's continues in its mission statement to describe a customer experience strategy called "Plan to Win."

Actually, it doesn't describe it at all, and that's a huge problem.

Then it says about this plan:

"which center on an exceptional customer experience — People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion."

What?

First of all, this multi-billion dollar global company has a glaring error in subject-verb agreement ("Plan to Win, which center on..."). Then it randomly lists five P's without tying those into an overall mission.

Ultimately this is the biggest sin in crafting a mission statement.

If it doesn't make sense from an outsider's perspective, how can it resonate with all of your employees to create the desired company culture and shared goals?

We'll give McDonald's some points for at least discussing what they do and tossing about customer experience as a goal.

Some companies create a mission statement that is out of touch with their business operations.

Albertsons' mission statement is light on specifics

Albertsons' is a large grocery store chain. Its mission statement checks off many of the boxes for success.

Have a look:

  • Offer a pleasing shopping experience
  • Create a workplace that creates opportunities (create something that creates!)
  • Create a business that achieves financial success
groceries

Awkward wording aside, this mission statement seems that is was not well-thought-out.

First of all, if we didn't tell you that Albertson's was a grocery store, or if you didn't already know yourself, there is nothing in the mission statement that mentions their core business activities.

trolley
bread
eggs
milk

The statement refers to a shopping experience, so you'd know it was a store of some kind, but little else.

There are so many different ways the brand could tighten up its mission, such as referring to:

  • Delivering the best possible grocery choices
  • Providing value
  • Addressing service

Also, "creating a business that achieves financial success" is not part of a mission statement.

It is unnecessary to utter the profit motive. It is understood, and in any event, provide little guidance to employees.

Lessons Learned (Good and Bad) from Notable Mission Statements

Going through this small list of good and bad examples guides businesses on how to write a mission statement.

Here are the lessons learned and how to best apply them when writing your mission statement:

(Designer_start) Please place image here (Designer_end)

Mission statements must be clear

Want to know how to write a mission statement? First, be clear about your goals. Good customer service is a start, but what differentiates your business from the competition? Your mission statement should be brief, but in a way that is appropriate for your business. Google can get away with sparse statements because everyone knows its brand. Your business will likely require more detail about the services you aim to deliver.

Relate your mission statement to business activities

Embrace your niche.

Tell a story in your mission statement.

For example, an automobile detailing company can say:

"Cleanliness is key to keeping your car running longer. At Joe's Detailing, we help customers retain value and enjoyment for many years."

This simple statement not only tells customers what you do, but it also reminds employees why they work for your business: to make customers happy and let them enjoy their automobile investment longer.

Mission statements should reflect your passion

Why did you start your business? Did you have goals other than financial results? Ask yourself what you wished to accomplish for your business and your customers, then use the answer as a starting point.

If you are wondering how to write a mission statement, remember these simple words of advice — not from a business guru but writer William Faulkner:

"Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything good."

So, write something down.

Anything.

You can always revise it later. Make something too long, then pare it down so that your employees and customers can understand your vision.

It should ultimately inspire employees, improve performance, guide decision making, and play a role in the company's promotion in marketing activities.

target
award

Beyond customer service, which is an obvious go-to for a mission, think about why someone would use your company's products or services.

The most important lesson on how to write a mission statement starts with knowing your business. The process can reveal much about your company and even can result in a change in direction.

thinking

If you're going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

Words are cheap.

Action Matters

Take this to heart. Make it your unofficial mission statement.

When you create the perfect mission statement, the one that resonates and provides clear direction, make sure you and your employees live up to the words.

Mission statements are useful tools, but words on a page often are not. The mission statement should be fully integrated into all aspects of your business. It should flow through all that your company does. 

Revisit and revise as necessary

graph

Businesses change over time. 


Customer needs, desires, and expectations evolve.

 

Companies completely overhaul operations.

Each of these may present a need to adjust a mission statement.


When determining how to write a mission statement, you should always keep an eye to the future.


Strong mission statements can survive with little adjustment


How to Write a mission statement that will endure.

The best way to create an effective and meaningful mission statement is by knowing your business and its customers. Determine your company's identity and ask yourself how your company solves customer problems.

Follow the lead of some stellar examples of mission statements and speak with a clear and honest voice. And avoid vague, toss-away statements. With a strong mission statement, success is easier to identify and attain.

With a strong mission statement, success is easier to identify and attain. 

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