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How to Write a Mission Statement: Examples, Tips & Best Practices

How do you encompass all that your brand is in a sentence or two? Learn how to write a mission statement, with examples and best practices.

Are you contemplating starting a business? Or perhaps you have already taken the first steps to set up your online store or brick-and-mortar entity. Establishing a company mission statement should be one of the first things that you tackle after you take care of all the legal tasks associated with incorporating your business.

A great mission statement should define your brand and its values to the consumers you target for your business and its products and services. High-quality company branding will ideally inspire and nurture the human spirit and bring inspiration and innovation to the forefront of your company. When you define your brand, you establish a purposeful company capable of attracting and maintaining a loyal, targeted customer base, even if or when a cheaper option becomes available.

Consider your own shopping habits and tendencies. When you shop, do you tend to gravitate toward a specific brand of product that many manufacturers produce and market? Why or why not?

From major purchases like automobiles to day-to-day casual purchases of pocket breath mints or chewing gum, many motivating factors lead you to choose a specific brand. Sure, cost can be (and often is) a determining factor when making major purchases, yet brand loyalty still resonates strongly with many consumers. There is a reason for that, and an intrinsic part of that purchasing motivation can be the business mission statement the company chose to promote its brand.

Exercise the full potential of the voice and tone

It is important to get the voice and tone right when drafting a good mission statement for your fledgling brand. Keep your voice consistent, as it defines your brand’s unique characteristics.

Think of your voice as the way you let the personality of your business shine through in every communication with your customers. Brand consistency is vital because present and future customers expect to hear or see a certain message. It might be the folksy slogan used by Motel 6, "We’ll leave the light on for you." Or it could be the iconic interlocking C’s on luxury Chanel items. Regardless, deviating from those expectations puts a brand on shaky ground.

Inadvertently or unintentionally changing your company’s voice in messaging or advertising can be jarring and confusing to your clientele – something you rarely want to occur without a great amount of foresight and planning. Remember the debacle of the "new Coke?" Coca-Cola sure hopes you don’t recall that failed branding experiment.

So, while the voice of a brand tends toward permanence, companies have the latitude to switch their tone as necessary to convey specific messages at strategic times.

One excellent example of a successful tone switch was the unique Budweiser commercial produced for the Super Bowl the year following the horrific 9/11 attacks on America. Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Budweiser, is known for its humorous and light-hearted annual Super Bowl ads, e.g., the trio of frogs croaking the syllables "Bud," "weis," "er" from their log in the swamp.

But a mere five months after the terrorist attack that took down the Twin Towers, Anheuser-Busch read the room correctly. They understood that Americans were still reeling and traumatized by the unprovoked terror attack on a great cosmopolitan American city that symbolized our strength and diversity. So soon after the attack, it was still an inappropriate moment for a comical advertisement featuring their brand. Instead of levity, they shot for poignancy – and hit it out of the park.

With somber music playing in the background, the 2002 Super Bowl commercial showed the iconic Clydesdale team leaving an upstate New York farmhouse early one snowy morning and making the long trek to New York City. As the renowned, but now forever altered, skyline comes into view, the team of workhorses stops. The Clydesdales then gaze up at the space formerly dominated by the twin World Trade Center towers before bowing their heads and reverently taking a knee. Only then does the Budweiser logo make its singular appearance. Adding to the gravitas of the intended tone, that was the only time the ad ever aired (although it exists in perpetuity via YouTube).

Are mission statements actually important?

They certainly are, but it is up to the company to be the rainmaker and wring the most value out of their business mission statement. Companies’ mission statements affect everyone from the top CEO to the janitor pushing a broom on the graveyard shift. On the demand side of the equation, the end-user customer in their luxury high-rise or family in a starter home in the ‘burbs are also affected by a company’s messaging.

If your employees sense hypocrisy in the company mission statement because their treatment by the company conflicts with its messaging, that cognitive dissonance will likely adversely affect their overall morale. A disgruntled workforce slows production, discourages customers, and tanks sales. Don’t wait until the spread sheets are in the red to make every effort to realign corporate values with your company’s mission statement.

Every decision made by the company as a whole and employees independently ideally should be guided by the rubric of the mission statement. Your mission statement should encourage unity and succinctly define your core culture. Adopting the right mission statement for your business allows you to attract talent that will be a good fit for your organization.

What’s the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

While both mission statements and vision statements share commonalities, they are not synonymous. Your company mission statement is the blueprint upon which the foundation of your business is built. It generally will not change over time, at least not without much debate and consideration.

Alternatively, your business vision statement is more like a wish list of future goals to implement when possible and as needed. Therefore, vision statements are mutable and have much more fluidity. They are subject to market trends and conditions like supply chain delays and economic booms and busts. Whereas a mission statement will not be subject to bullish or bearish markets, a vision statement is very much susceptible to these environments and must be adapted accordingly.

Business mission statement best practices

As you craft your company mission statement, keep these five things in mind:

  • Your mission statement should accurately reflect your and your company’s values. Don’t choose something that sounds lofty and aspirational and simply give lip service to it. Not only will you be unable to maintain the corporate façade for very long, but your brand will also forever be tainted by the stench of inauthenticity.
  • Vagueness will get you nowhere in a crowded industry. It is the equivalent of stating you are "a people person" on a job interview. It means nothing. Instead, choose words that accurately reflect the image you intend your company to project.
  • Go big or go home. Now is not the time to hide your light under a bushel. Be authentic, but it is OK to fake it until you make it here. Just make sure your company is always moving forward to achieve its goals.
  • Have a brainstorming session with your company’s principals. Gather ideas and discuss how well they reflect the image and brand you represent. While mission statements have permanence, they too, may need to be adapted over time or as changes occur. You can still keep core values the same while upgrading your statement to reflect current conditions and new developments.
  • One advantage of drafting your mission statement is that you choose words by which you are able to uphold in your corporate and personal lives. Again, this relates to the first step of crafting a mission statement that is an accurate reflection of your belief system. As long as you believe it, you can live your life accordingly.

Take your time when drafting your mission statement, as it will be an integral part of your business for the entirety of its operation. Make sure that you get it right.

30 Company mission statement examples

Your company's mission statement should clarify the focus of your business for its targeted customer base and employees. When it comes to establishing your brand, the mission statement should differentiate your company from other, similar business competitors and make sure that yours is the standout in its field. Customers should be able to count on your company to live up to its promised words.

Need a little inspiration when drafting your business mission statement? We all need a little help sometimes. Read the following mission statements of some highly successful companies (and a few inspirational outliers) to get your creative juices flowing.

  1. Starbucks: "Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow."
  2. American Express: "Become essential to our customers by providing differentiated products and services to help them achieve their aspirations."
  3. Google: "To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."
  4. Patagonia: "We’re in business to save our home planet."
  5. The Avenue Pub: "We manufacture and service hangovers."
  6. Tesla: "To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."
  7. PayPal: "To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution."
  8. Uber: "Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers."
  9. Forbes: "To deliver information on the people, ideas and technologies changing the world to our community of affluent business decision makers."
  10. The Walt Disney Company: "To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products."
  11. Microsoft: "To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential."
  12. Coca-Cola: "To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference."
  13. The New York Times: "We seek the truth and help people understand the world."
  14. P&G: "We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers."
  15. Whole Foods: "Our deepest purpose as an organization is helping support the health, well-being, and healing of both people — customers, team members, and business organizations in general — and the planet."
  16. Caterpillar: "To enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet."
  17. Etsy: "To reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world. We are building a human, authentic and community-centric global and local marketplace."
  18. LinkedIn: "To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful."
  19. Spotify: "To unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators."
  20. Twitter: "To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers."
  21. Tiffany's: "To maintain an ethical business that is qualitative and sustainable."
  22. Intuit: "To improve its customers’ financial lives so profoundly, they couldn’t imagine going back to the old way."
  23. Tito's Vodka: "Keeping their product as affordable as possible."
  24. Olive Garden: "At Olive Garden, we want the experience of warmth and caring to extend beyond our restaurant walls and into every community where we live and serve."
  25. Warby Parker: "To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
  26. Adobe: "To move the web forward and give web designers and developers the best tools and services in the world."
  27. Taco Bell: "We take pride in making the best Mexican style fast food by providing fast, friendly, & accurate service. We are the employer of choice, offering team members opportunities for growth, advancement, & rewarding careers in a fun, safe working environment. We are accountable for profitability in everything we do, providing our shareholders with value growth."
  28. De Beer: "De Beer wants to be active in niche markets, where it can win on the basis of excellent knowledge and skills."
  29. Heineken: "To develop successful brands that people trust, we aim to make a positive contribution to the environment, local communities and society."
  30. Purina: "At Nestlé Purina PetCare, we are committed to helping pets live longer, happier and healthier lives through proper nutrition and care. We have a fundamental responsibility to provide safe, palatable and nutritious products made to the highest standards of quality and safety. We understand and share the strong feelings of love and respect pet owners develop for their pets, because most of us are pet owners, too. Therefore, at Nestlé Purina PetCare, the welfare of dogs and cats is our top priority and a responsibility we will not compromise."

The above businesses' mission statement examples encompass a wide and diverse range of industries and values. Yet, they share a common goal of bringing people together to experience their services and products. That is the common goal shared by all companies, no matter what their field or industry may be.

Brand consistency is crucial in a mission statement

When it comes to brand consistency, McDonald's may corner the market. No matter where in the United States your travels may take you, you can count on McDonald's to be serving up burgers and French fries at a location near you. The sole exception is the state of Vermont, which as of last year had nary a McDonald's or Burger King anywhere in the state.

But for residents and travelers of the other 49 states, there is no guesswork at McDonald's. Instead, there is comfort in knowing that your Big Mac tastes the same in Honolulu, Hawaii, as it does in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Likewise, consumers derive value from the identical mission statements of the brands they favor and the companies they patronize. It takes the guesswork out of consumers trying to determine whether your company is a good fit for their personal value systems. With a finite amount of discretionary funds to spend, most customers want their dollars to be spent on purchases and products from companies that share their belief systems and core values.

Stand out with an authentic mission statement

Are you ready to take the plunge and draft your own authentically unique mission statement? No matter what business you may be opening, in the words of Mailchimp, you can "collaborate with creative people to make fun, unique products for good causes."

Don't sweat the small stuff if you're a big picture guy or gal who struggles with creative expression of your own ideas. There are a host of people out there whose talents and skills complement your own and can simplify your life with their ideas and expressions. Reach out for help defining and shaping your company's brand so that success will follow your efforts and help you become a thought leader in your field.

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