Say the words “mission statement” and watch your employees’ eyes glaze over faster than the office clears out at 5 pm on Friday. Those words are synonymous with corporate speak—it sounds great but often lacks clarity and meaning. Yet, a mission statement is the North Star of your company’s drive, the reminder for your employees of their purpose, and the reason your customers should feel good about doing business with you.
A mission statement should be simple, concise, and pack a punch. It should also provide a template for decision making. Think of it like the steering wheel of a car. The car will still accelerate and stop, but navigating that curved road is impossible without steering.
Four things to consider in the creation of your mission statement:
What are you trying to do? It should be big. It should be bold. It should be powerful. This is the attention grabber, but it must remain truthful. You can’t promise world peace through the power of your plumbing supplies, but improved sanitation did once stop the spread of the plague.
Specifics of Your Goal
It’s great to say you want to change the world, but how do you plan to do that? Innovative technology? Environmental consciousness? Brand awareness for a product people cannot live without? Take the Albertson’s mission for example: “To create a shopping experience that pleases our customers; a workplace that creates opportunities and a great working environment for our associates; and a business that achieves financial success.” Terrible punctuation aside, this mission statement fails. Would you know Albertson’s is a grocery store chain if you had never heard of them before reading that statement?
Quantify Your Goal
Microsoft did a great job with this by saying, “A computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software.”
Nothing bogs down a mission state like extra words, and people will tune out. To paraphrase Avon’s whopping Five Core Values and Seven Guiding Principles into one sentence, they are a purveyor of women’s empowerment through the sale of beauty products which will change the world through breast cancer awareness and research while gaining respect the world over for reducing environmental impact, all while setting up the next generation for financial freedom. Wow. If one company can deliver on all those promises, why are millennials having such difficulty fighting un/underemployment?
These points are well and good, but if you’re missing the single-most important key ingredient in your mission statement, all the pretty words won’t matter. What is that key?
- Without passion, your customers may not be moved by your company’s concept enough to sign up for what you're selling.
- Without passion, your competitors can point to your lackluster efforts and squeeze you out of the market.
- Without passion, people have no reason to take notice of your efforts at all.
The whole point of marketing your business is to get noticed, grow your brand awareness, and develop a loyal customer base. Lack of passion means your target audience scrolls right by you without taking notice.
Good Mission Statements
In few words, we get it. Current energy tech is not sustainable enough. Tesla will make it better the world over. Environmental consciousness requires technological savvy, and making it accessible the world over implies affordability for the average household. That’s a big promise in only eleven words.
Patagonia, maker of outdoor equipment, wants their customers to trust in their product enough to get out there and do some good. It’s empowering and bold and puts the passion they feel for the environment in the hands of their clientele. They are, in essence, giving us the power to change the world through the use of their product. Now that’s passion.
Hershey’s has expanded their founder’s passion to include the environment, promising the same quality they’ve delivered for decades while moving with current social change. All while putting smiles on children’s faces.
The modern mission statement cannot afford to be full of dry, Dilbert-esque business speak, especially when it may be your company’s only chance to impact the customer relationship. You want to stop people in their tracks, make them think, make them see why you love your business and it’s worth their time.
To learn how to write a mission statement with impact, sign up for Bright Planning’s one-time workshop, Write With Impact, taking place April 1st.