What is a mission statement?
A well-crafted mission statement is the “why” of your business strategy.
It fosters a sense of belonging by giving your business a deeper meaning.
When people are emotionally invested, they are motivated to buy products, choose brands, and join organizations.
That’s why a meaningful mission statement inspires others to take action.
Furthermore is also distinguishes a company from its competitors and provides team members with a common goal to work towards.
Also, we should distinguish a mission statement from a vision statement.
How is a Mission Statement different from a Vision Statement?
While the Mission Statement focuses on the past and present of a business, the Vision statement is directed towards the future:
- Mission Statement describes the purpose of a company and why a business does what it does today.
- Vision Statement describes the goals of a business and how it wants to solve the problems of the future.
That implies that the main difference is the time horizon.
What makes an effective mission statement?
Good mission statements are short (single sentence or short paragraph), concise, and easy to understand statements that provides a clearly stated purpose.
They focus more on why a business drives value instead of what they sell.
A superb mission statement should give consumers a reason to choose your business over any other company.
Once you’ve discovered your statement, start getting comfortable with it by talking to other people about your mission.
Also, commit to it by backing it up with actions.
What makes a bad mission statement?
When it comes to the mission statement of your brand, you need to get to the point.
A bad mission statement is unspecific and unclear.
Just ask yourself a simple question: “What does your business do?”
It should be an easy one to answer, right?
But is it? Well, not always.
You could be saying: “We make important products.” or “We provide great quality.”
Your company mission statement is among the worst mission statements possible.
Usually, weak mission statements include one (or a combination) of the following phrases:
- innovation (or tradition AND innovation)
- client orientation
- service orientation
- sustainability (fairly new)
All the above are excellent characteristics, but they don’t differentiate your brand at all!
Mission statements, including these phrases, are super unspecific and unclear:
- “We stand for tradition and innovation.”
- “Committed to developing a sustainable environment.”
They don’t make a brand out from the crowd at all.
Every decent business should have good quality, be trustworthy, or care about the future of our planet.
It’s nothing that sets your business apart from other companies.
It could be any brand.
That’s why a brand must have a purpose.
Why do you wake up early every morning, go to work, eat healthily or go to the gym?
If you can’t answer a clear and sound “yes” you don’t need to be afraid.
Just like us humans, many businesses don’t know why they do what they do.
Why do humans need a purpose?
Have you ever lost all your passion for what you do?
Without purpose, life can be frustrating.
The purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.
Once you’ve found it, you wake up each morning with determination.
You know the goal to work towards, so everything in the way of reaching that goal seems like little hurdles waiting to be overcome.
Also, your confidence will not only give your life direction, but it will also appeal to others.
This not only applies to many people but also brands.
Why do brands need a purpose?
There are two main reasons why your brand needs a purpose:
- You know which products and services match your mission statement.
- You know which people to look for during the hiring process.
If you can’t explain your business without a lengthy presentation, then you’re probably going to struggle.
To illustrate this, let’s compare two advertising pitches of a cereal company.
The first one highlights the cereals’ superior quality at an affordable price.
The second one highlights its mission of creating an exceptional product that allows people to start their day ideally to accomplish great things in life.
As you notice, the second pitch is far more compelling and attractive, just because it explains the company’s “why.”
That’s why purpose is an essential element of any successful brand.
A framework to find purpose is the Golden Circle.
Some organizations stand out from similar competitors easily.
They can sell more products than their competitors even though they are equally good.
Well, the key to success lies in the way these organizations think, act, and communicate.
What is the Golden Circle?
Simon Sinek introduced the Golden Circle in his bestselling book “Start with WHY.”
It illustrates that people tend to operate on three levels:
Let’s go through each level step-by-step.
The outer circle, the “What,” is pretty straightforward.
It describes the activities of a business.
You make a product. Or you offer a service.
Next, the “How” illustrates the way, in which the “What” is achieved.
How do you manufacture your products, or how do you deliver your services?
Finally, the “Why” is at the center of the Golden Circle.
It describes the mission of a business.
All three elements should be well known.
Usually, most businesses start with the purely rational what.
However, truly successful businesses start with why.
Why should you start with why?
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” (Simon Sinek)
That’s because only the why fosters a sense of belonging, which inspires others to take action.
When people are emotionally invested, they join organizations, buy products, and choose brands.
The more distinctly you describe and communicate the why, the more people will like it.
The concept of why excites people. Once people are emotionally invested in a business, it doesn’t matter so much what the company sells anymore.
Customers are convinced of the business itself and happy to buy whatever it sells.
First explain the why, then how, and only at the very end what their product is.
Start with why
Great leaders are working for a belief in a purpose bigger than themselves can empower others to take action.
In this way, employees don’t feel like they are working for their boss.
They feel like they are working for a cause bigger than themselves, just like the boss and the whole company do.
Businesses that start with why inspire others
Successful businesses don’t necessarily have superior business strategies.
They stand out because they can excite their employees and customers and begin every decision-making process by asking “why.”
It’s the only way to realize ideas successfully.
By inspiring others, you establish a following.
Employees know the goal to work towards, which motivates them and gets them excited about their work.
They can see the basis and goal of their tasks, and the message can resonate with them.
Consumers who believe what you believe will reward you with their loyalty.
They will understand that your business shares the same values.
Your brand will naturally integrate with their personality.
All in all, businesses that start with “why” can attract the most loyal employees and customers.
Backed by them, a business has the backbone to be truly successful.
Businesses that start with why differentiate from other businesses
Businesses with a clear why have no trouble at all to distinguish from others.
They differentiate by aligning their brand mission statement with the golden circle.
A successful brand has to differentiate, while differentiation means being unusual and different.
They also don’t need to depend on imitating the competition.
They could even completely ignore the competition.
As a result, they can be much more authentic and imaginative.
They have a definitive personality and a clear “why.”
Also, they can attract the best employees, which is priceless when it comes to securing the future of a business.
Great Mission Statement Examples
In his well-known TEDx talk, Simon Sinek used the example of Apple.
While there are certainly thousands of other great examples, let’s take a look at four of them.
They make it much easier to relate to the Golden Circle.
- Why: To think differently by questioning the status quo
- How: By making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly.
- What: We make computers, tablets, and phones.
Apple was able to establish a fanbase that is irrationally loyal to the Apple brand.
- Why: To equip the very best athletes (and anyone striving to be).
- How: By having the best athletes in the world use and endorse our products over and over.
- What: We make sports shoes, apparel, and equipment.
When wearing the new LeBron basketball shoes or the Cristiano Ronaldo soccer cleats, sports enthusiasts feel like they could play like them.
- Why: To help improve the self-esteem of girls worldwide.
- How: By emphasizing the ethical aspect of beauty.
- What: We make soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, face wash, deodorants, body lotions, and body wash.
Helping girls to gain more confidence in their natural beauty makes the brand more accessible to relate to.
- Why: To make traveling much more intimate than staying at hotels.
- How: By connecting people in real life all over the world.
- What: We provide a platform for individuals to rent out their lodging and for travelers to stay.
Airbnb introduced a new way of traveling that makes you feel like a local.