Today’s talent wants to work for companies that align with their values. For example, according to a recent survey from Qualtrics, more than half of employees in the US (56%) wouldn’t consider a job at a company with values they disagree with. And over half (54%) would take a pay cut to work at a company with a strong mission and values.
Consumers feel the same way. According to research from the Zeno Group, consumers are four to six times more likely to trust, champion, and buy from companies they view as having a strong purpose. And so, if you want to attract both customers and top talent in today’s competitive market, you need a mission — and a strong mission statement to communicate that mission.
But what, exactly, is a company mission statement? Why is it so important? And how do you develop a mission statement that communicates your company’s mission and values — and attracts top talent in the process?
What is a company mission statement?
First things first. Before we jump into how to craft your company’s mission statement, let’s quickly cover what, exactly, a company mission statement is.
What is a company mission statement?
A mission statement is a clear, concise description of a company’s purpose. It defines who the company is (and whom they’re targeting), what they do, and, most importantly, why they do it.
A good mission statement gets to that who, what, and why quickly. Ideally, a company mission statement will be between one sentence and three sentences (or a short paragraph).
Mission statements are important because they outline what the company stands for. That includes the company’s core values. It also defines how the company will interact with stakeholders. That includes both internal (like team members) and external stakeholders (like customers).
A strong mission statement creates a framework — or road map — for the company. And that road map drives everything the company does, from defining company culture to setting company goals.
Mission statement vs. vision statement: What is the difference?
The terms “mission statement” and “vision statement” are often used interchangeably. But there are distinct differences between the two. And before you start crafting your company’s mission statement, it’s important to understand those differences.
As mentioned, a mission statement defines a company’s purpose. It outlines what your organization wants to achieve.
A vision statement, on the other hand, outlines the positive impact the company hopes its mission has. This impact could be on their customers, their team, their community, or the world at large (or all of the above).
In other words, a mission statement outlines what a company is currently doing — and why. A vision statement focuses on the future, and how the company hopes to bring its mission to life.
For example, let’s say you work for an energy company. Your company’s mission statement might read as follows:
“To lessen the impact of the current environmental crisis by providing more sustainable energy to residential and commercial customers.”
In that situation, your vision statement would outline how you hope that mission impacts the world. For example, it might read something along the lines of:
“To spread sustainability and fulfill all of our customer’s energy needs while lowering the country’s carbon footprint — ultimately lessening the impact of climate change.”
How to develop a mission statement
You know what a mission statement is, and how it differs from a vision statement. You know why a company’s mission statement is important. Now, let’s jump into how to develop a great mission statement for your organization.
There are a few steps you’ll want to follow for crafting the best mission statements, including:
- Define your company’s offerings.
- Define your core values.
- Connect with leadership and key stakeholders for insights.
- Find the connection between your offerings and your values.
- Use that connection to draft a mission statement.
- Tighten up your mission statement.
Let’s take a look at each step more in-depth.
1. Define what your company offers
When people read your mission statement, you want them to have a clear idea of what, exactly, your company does. That’s why, before you get too far into writing your mission statement, you need to define your company’s offerings.
Obviously, you know what your company does and what it offers. But for that to come across in your mission statement, you want to break it down to be as clear and concise as possible.
Before you write your mission statement, ask yourself:
- What products and/or services does our company offer to customers?
- Who are we targeting with your products and/or services? Who is our target audience?
- What makes our offerings different from our competitors? Why would our target audience want to engage with our products and/or services?
Getting clear on what you have to offer your customers will ensure anyone who reads your mission statement will be clear on your offerings as well. And that clarity will help them better understand your mission.
2. Define your core values
When writing your mission statement, it’s important to get clear on what you have to offer your customers. But it’s just as (if not more!) important to define why you do what you do. And that means defining your company core values.
Your company’s core values are a foundational part of your mission statement. Core values are what motivate companies to do the work they do. And they also dictate how that work is done.
Values will differ from company to company. For example, your organization’s core values might be respect, equality, and empathy. Or they might be sustainability, adaptability, and transparency.
Whatever your core values are, make sure you’re clear on them before you start drafting your mission statement. That way, you can be sure those values will come through in the final statement — and that people will understand the “why” behind your company’s mission.
3. Connect with leadership and key stakeholders for insights
Few people understand a company’s mission better than the company’s leaders. So, if you’ve been tasked with creating your organization’s mission statement, you’ll definitely want to connect with leadership.
Schedule time to speak with your company’s leadership to get their insights on the company’s mission. Ask them, from their perspective:
- What do we have to offer our team members, customers, and community?
- What are our core values, and how do those values show up in how we do business?
- Why do we do what we do?
In addition to connecting with company leadership? You may also want to connect with other internal stakeholders that have a say in defining the company mission. (For example, someone in the human resources department, like a Director of Corporate Culture)
4. Connect your offerings and your values
You’ve defined what your company has to offer. You’ve defined the core values that drive your organization. Now, it’s time to connect the two.
In order for your mission statement to be effective, it needs to illustrate how your core values are connected to what your company offers.
For example, let’s say your organization’s core value is sustainability. In that situation, you’d want to showcase exactly how your company’s products or services either support sustainability or were created sustainably.
That connects your core value (sustainability) with your company’s offerings. (Products or services that support sustainability and/or are created using sustainable practices).
You need to define the link between your company’s values, how your company does business, and what your company has to offer. It’s a crucial part of your mission statement — so make sure you understand how everything is connected.
5. Combine all of your elements to craft a mission statement
Once you’ve defined who your company is, what you have to offer, and the values that drive those offerings, the next step? Combining those elements to craft your mission statement.
Again, your mission statement needs to clearly outline your company’s purpose. And it does so by defining the who what, and why:
- What you’re offering
- Why you do what you do (or, in other words, your core values)
Write out a few mission statements that convey the message of your who, what, and why. Share the statements with leaders and stakeholders. Work together to choose the statement that best and most clearly communicates your mission.
6. Tighten up your mission statement
Once you’ve settled on which mission statement you want to use, the last step in the process? Tightening up the copy.
As mentioned, a mission statement shouldn’t be any longer than a short paragraph — or three sentences. But the best mission statements are often a single sentence.
Edit your mission statement. Remove any unnecessary words or sentiments. Get your mission statement as clear and concise as possible without losing the meaning of your mission.
Once you’ve tightened up your mission statement copy, you’ll want to share it with leadership and any other stakeholders to get their approval. And once you have their green light? Your mission statement is ready to go.
5 company mission statement examples to get inspired
Need some inspiration? Looking for ideas about how to effectively communicate your company’s mission? Looking at other companies’ mission statement examples is a great place to start.
But not all mission statements are created equal. If you want to get inspired, you’ll want to look at the best mission statement examples.
Let’s take a look at five companies with strong mission statements:
- Patagonia: “We’re in business to save our home planet.”
- Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
- LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
- Nike: “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.* (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)”
- TED: “Spread ideas.”
“We’re in business to save our home planet.”
The foundation of the Patagonia brand is saving the environment. The company is known for creating long-lasting products out of recyclable materials. They also donate profits to environmental causes. (In fact, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouniard recently transferred ownership of the company to a specially designed trust and nonprofit to ensure profits will continue to be used to fight climate change).
Patagonia’s mission statement clearly outlines their environmental mission. It communicates who they are and why they’re in business in a single sentence.
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Amazon’s mission statement communicates the three foundational elements of Amazon’s mission. The first part of the mission is putting the customer first. (Which the company does through initiatives like free returns and Prime 2-Day Shipping). The second is the wide variety of products. And the third is offering those products at the lowest prices possible.
It’s a major mission — but Amazon’s mission statement communicates all three elements in just one sentence.
“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
As anyone who has used LinkedIn knows, the platform has a clear focus. Bringing professionals together and helping them foster new connections and opportunities. Short, simple, and to the point, LinkedIn’s mission statement clearly communicates the company’s mission. To bring professionals together to make them more successful and productive.
“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.*
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Nike’s mission statement is unique. The first sentence of the mission statement says the company’s mission is to inspire athletes. This could read as only applying to athletic people. But the company includes an asterisk to clarify that they consider everyone with a body to be an athlete. This immediately makes the mission statement more inclusive. It shows that Nike’s mission to bring inspiration and innovation applies to all.
TED’s mission statement is so effective not only because it’s concise, but because it’s inclusive. TED isn’t about sharing any specific kind of ideas, but ideas in general. (As evidenced by their massive collection of TED Talks on just about every topic under the sun.) TED’s mission statement captures exactly what the media company is out to do — and does so in just two words.
Best practices for crafting a company mission statement
Need more insights on how to craft the perfect company mission statement? And how to make the most out of your mission statement once it’s crafted? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Craft a mission statement — no matter how small your company. Many small business owners think that mission statements are only for larger companies. But that’s just not true! Crafting a mission statement is beneficial for all businesses, no matter how large or small. So put the time into crafting a company mission statement — whether you’re a company of one, 100, or 10,000.
- Share your mission statement internally… Your employees are the people responsible for bringing your mission to life every day. So, it’s important to share the mission statement with them. (For example, by adding it to your employee handbook). That way, they understand what your company is trying to do and why and can act accordingly.
- …and externally. You also want the world to know what your organization is doing and why. As such, you’ll want to share your company mission statement far and wide. Put your mission statement on your website. Share it on social media. Make it a part of customer-facing initiatives. The more people that understand your mission, the more people will connect with it — and the more people will want to engage your business.
- Be open to your mission evolving. Your mission today may change one year, five years, or 10 years from now. To ensure your company continues moving in the right direction, be open to your mission evolving. (And evolving your mission statement with it).
What not to include in a company mission statement
Now that you know what to include in your company’s mission statement, let’s quickly cover what not to include.
Things you’ll want to leave out of your mission statement include:
- Too much fluff. As mentioned, a mission statement should be short and to the point. This isn’t the place to be verbose — so make sure to remove any extra words or “fluff.”
- Your company’s vision. Your mission statement’s purpose is to communicate who you are as a business, what you do, and why you do it. Not your company’s vision. That’s for your vision statement — so make sure to keep the two separate.
- Corporate jargon. You want your mission statement to feel genuine, authentic, and accessible to everyone. So leave out any company language or corporate jargon that might not connect with people outside of your organization.
Use this guide to craft the perfect company mission statement
Crafting a company mission statement is an important part of strategic planning. And now that you have this guide for crafting an effective mission statement (along with examples to inspire you), all that’s left to do? Get out there and craft your company’s mission statement!