Updated: May 17
Any self-respecting #MarketingPlan must have solid business mission and vision statements. These two elements are critical in determining the difference between a business and a brand.
Keep reading and discover why.
Table of contents
What mission and vision mean (classic definition);
What mission and vision have become nowadays (Golden Circle Model);
Examples of top brands’ mission and vision statements;
The outcome in having a mission and vision statements.
WHAT MISSION STATEMENT MEANS
The mission is a powerful statement that in a few words explains the reason of existence for a business. It is focused on the present and states what the company does, its core business and how to achieve it.
An organization exists to accomplish something, right?
The classic definition of “Mission Statement”
According to Marketing and management of Kotler and Keller, successful mission statements have few common traits:
They focus on a limited number of goals;
They highlight the business’s major policies and values;
They define the major competitive spheres within which the company will operate. They can be: the target industry, products and applications supplied, range of competence mastered and leveraged, market segment served, number of steps from raw material to final product and distribution, and target geographical areas;
They take a long-term view. Management should change the mission only when it ceases to be relevant;
They are as short, memorable and meaningful as possible.
To use the words of Peter Drucker (a management consultant, educator and author whose publications have contributed to define the modern business corporation), the mission statement should answer a few questions:
What is our business? Who is the customer? What is of value to the customer? What will our business be? What should our business be? These simple-sounding questions are among the most difficult a company will ever have to answer. Successful companies continuously raise and answer them.
Examples of bad mission statements
To build total brand value by innovating to deliver customer value and customer leadership faster, better, and more completely than our competition;
We build brands and make the world a little happier by bringing our best to you.
Example of Google’s mission statement
To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
WHAT VISION STATEMENT MEANS
While the mission drives a company in the present, the vision statement gives it the right direction. A business envisions itself in the future and provides aspirational purpose.
What problem are we seeking to solve? Where are we headed? If we’ll achieve all strategic goals, what would we look like in 10 years from now?
In two words, the vision statement is a road map.
Example of Google’s vision statement
To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
WHAT MISSION AND VISION HAVE BECOME NOWADAYS: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE MODEL
No one usually likes and fully understands classic concepts written by old economists for a different historical time. They seem so far away from us that it is almost unbelievable they are still true.
But mission and vision statements are evergreen concepts in marketing and Simon Sinek (author, speaker and marketing consultant) revised them in 2009 with his book Start with Why: how great leaders inspire everyone to take action.
The difference between any business and a brand
Thanks to Sinek’s work, the modern meaning of being a brand has emerged. He showed how to find and leverage inspiration in the everyday work with his Golden Circle Model.
He reworked vision and mission into Why, How, What: the three golden circles.
There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate why they do what they do. By “why” l mean your purpose, cause or belief-why does your company exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care? People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Great leaders found their business by first addressing why they exist:
Why: this is the core belief of the business. It's why the business exists;
How: this is how the business fulfills that core belief;
What: this is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.
The marketing communication should go from Why to How and What; similarly, the vision should represent the starting point to lead the customer to the mission. When you see the value in what you're doing or offering, it becomes easier for your customers to buy-in to that mission.
Mastering the Golden Circle Model is the key to make a business become into a brand.
EXAMPLES OF TOP BRANDS’
MISSION AND VISION STATEMENTS
We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
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.
To create a better everyday life for the many people.
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
Utilize the power of Moore’s Law to bring smart, connected devices to every person on earth.
If it is smart and connected, it is best with Intel.
To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.
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.
THE OUTCOME IN HAVING
A MISSION AND VISION STATEMENT
You don’t really need a mission and vision statement to start a business. There are many companies out there without them that are working fine. So, how can a mission and vision make a difference in a business?
They represent the crossing line between any business and a brand
A company can be much more than just a logo and a product/service. Do you remember the Pepsi taste test of 1983?
Pepsi launched a huge marketing campaign to demonstrate that people preferred the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola. And the sweeter taste of Pepsi actually outclassed Coca-Cola!
So, why do customers keep buying Coke?
While Pepsi focused on the characteristics of its product, Coca-Cola marketed its values, culture and emotions: in a few words, it shared the Simon Sinek’s Why to the world.
Coca-Cola has become a brand which reminds consumers of friendship, family, adorable bears, Christmas and other fluffy associations.
If you clearly state your mission and vision, all the following marketing and communication activities will be more effective and easy to plan. They will guide your marketing and to avoid going off the tracks.
Bonus: besides brand and marketing, there is also another reason why Coke is preferred over Pepsi. While Pepsi’s chemical composition stimulates taste receptors, Coca-Cola’s formula hits the centers of reward and pleasure, increasing the production of dopamine (source: Niraj Naik - Pharmacist and CEO of The Renegade Pharmacist ltd; Dr. Michael J. Wegmann - Chiropractic Specialist and developer of the Social Responsibility movement). That’s why, when the effect expires, we go get another Coke!
The brand is the most scalable intangible asset for a company. It allows a business to get away with arbitrary and unjustified high prices. You will forget price war.
Mission and vision fasten decision making
The mission and vision support business strategy which matches together the overall company’s and individual’s needs.
Moreover, they empower managers to make decisions faster and with more confidence. Speed is the key, and knowing the right direction means being one step ahead of the competition. Above all, in larger companies, having a mission statement encourages the leadership to delegate decision making.
The vision guides you through business opportunities
Business opportunities and critical decisions can drastically shift the path of a company’s growth. The vision statement helps leadership identify pros and cons of opportunities, so that it is easy to determine the best course of action.
For instance, if a company is approached by a larger corporation about the potential of being acquired, it should represent a huge opportunity, right? But what will the outcome be? Will it be necessary to relocate? Will it mean losing employees? And will that outcome reflect the long-term plan the leadership had for the business?
They boost employees retention and decrease turnover
People want to know their work matters: they want to make an impact, not only within the organization, but also on the world.
According to a LinkedIn 2016 global report, Purpose at work, having a vision helps employees envision their future in the company, remain passionate and motivated.
74% of candidates revealed that they want a job where they feel like their work matters.
A vision statement which shows a company’s larger perspective, allows to be competitive, retain top talent and build a stronger team. As Kirstin O'Donovan (Productivity Coach and CEO at TopResultsCoaching) says:
An inspiring vision statement should inform a clear direction and priorities for the organization. while challenging all the team members to grow together.
In this article, I tried to summarize and define the mission and vision statements according to my professional experience, education and “business taste”. Online, there are so many different definitions and most of them are also incompatible/contrasting to each other.
If you are an entrepreneur, I’m curious to know what you’ve chosen as your mission and vision. Drop a comment below and tell me how your business inspires people to action!