What’s the Difference Between Vision and Mission Statements, and How Do You Write Them?
If you’ve taken on the monumental task of starting and running a business, you’re likely driven by a dream or vision of the future that you want to work towards. To crystallize that vision into something clear and real, most organizations develop a mission statement. However, there’s also something equally important called a vision statement.
A vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what the organization wants to become. The mission statement focuses on today and what the organization is doing to get there. If together these two statements form a roadmap for your business, then the vision statement is the destination marker and the mission statement is the route you’ve plotted to reach it.
Let’s dive deeper into why both mission statements and vision statements are important for your business, what to include when writing each one, and some examples of companies with good mission and vision statements.
How to Write a Vision Statement
A vision statement is your end-goal. It lays out your vision of the future that you’re trying to reach. Generally, it works better to write your vision statement first before you write your mission statement.
Developing a solid vision statement gives your company direction and purpose. It helps your team focus on what matters, and promotes growth in those areas. As a result, the vision statement helps your content stay true to your purpose and beliefs.
All in all, the vision statement defines what success means for your company. It is the “why” of your company, your reason for existing. It is the destination marker on your business’s roadmap.
To write a vision statement, you should start by revisiting the various components of your business or marketing plan. This may include your elevator pitch, your business goals, your SWOT analysis, your values, and your business’s story and brand identity.
Once you have this melting pot all together, you can distill it into a vision statement by asking yourself these questions:
- What is the ultimate purpose of our business?
- What problems do we want to solve?
- How does our business aim to make the world a better place?
- What are our hopes and dreams?
- Who and what do we want to inspire to change?
Once you’re satisfied that you’ve answered these questions fully, it’s time to distill it down to the essentials. A vision statement can sometimes be several paragraphs long, but it’ll usually work best for you if you can get it down to a single clear sentence. Use short sentences and concrete wording, focusing on what you do for others, the way you would with an elevator pitch.
How to Write a Mission Statement
A mission statement is the core of your operations. It lays out what you’ll need to accomplish in order to reach the vision you established in your vision statement. It works best to write it after you’ve refined your vision statement.
A well-defined mission statement becomes the driving force for your company. It gives your team a common goal to constantly be advancing toward. It keeps you rooted in what’s important and helps you make sure your daily operations are moving you toward your vision.
Altogether, the mission statement defines what you need to do to fulfill your vision. It is the “how” of your company, your plan of attack. It is the route you’ve drawn to your destination on your business’s roadmap.
Before writing a mission statement, you should make sure you have a refined vision statement that accurately and clearly expresses your vision. With that in hand, ask yourself these questions:
- What conditions must we fulfill to make this vision a reality?
- What do we do in our day-to-day to fulfill those conditions?
- Who do we serve?
- How do we serve them?
- How does what we do help make our vision real for our customers?
If you have trouble, consult other pieces of your business or marketing plan such as your buyer personas and target audiences, your buying cycle, etc. When you’ve answered those questions, it’s time to condense this down into a single strong statement. Again, it’s best to cut out jargon in favor of simple, meaningful language, keep it short, and stay customer-focused.
Check Out These Examples of Great Vision and Mission Statements
Now that we’ve gone over the concepts behind mission and vision statements and how to write them, let’s see those ideas in action with some real-life examples. You’ll probably recognize all of these companies, and seeing the connection between their vision and mission statements may help you see how the two work together.
First up: Google.
- Vision: To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
- Mission: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
As you can see, Google’s vision starts with a simple yet ambitious aspiration to provide people with the world’s information as quickly and efficiently as possible, i.e. “in one click”. To work toward accomplishing that, their mission that guides their daily operations is to organize that information to make it as accessible and useful as possible. You can see how their mission directly powers their movement toward their vision.
Next up: Amazon.
- Vision: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
- Mission: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
This one is valuable because so many business owners get caught up in their “how” and mistake it for their “why”. Of course Amazon’s daily operations consist of striving to provide convenience, low prices, and a great selection. This is their mission, but is that their ultimate goal? No. Their vision is to become the world’s most customer-centric company where everyone does their online shopping. Those other things are just objectives which serve that vision.
- Vision: Inspire the world. Create the future.
- Mission: Become one of the world’s top five brands by 2020.
Talk about audacity! Both Samsung’s vision and their mission manage to simultaneously be mind-blowingly simple and mind-blowingly ambitious. Again, this is an example where a less clear-eyed company might confuse their mission for their vision. Becoming one of the world’s top five brands is certainly a worthy goal, but again, this is only their mission. This is the route they are taking to accomplish their vision: to inspire the world and create the future.
Samsung is currently in the top ten, so this is a wonderful example of how a clear vision and mission can help keep you focused and grounded as you work to reach your goals. Success like that won’t show up on your doorstep uninvited—have you developed clear vision and mission statements to guide your business?
If not, mission and vision statements are a component of your marketing plan that Frontier Marketing’s content writers can help you out with. Feel free to call or message us with your questions!