Definition For A Mission Statement With Examples

By Sean Stevenson – Latest Revision January 21st, 2021

Defining A Mission Statement

The definition of a mission statement is stated as a concise description that details the reason why a company exists.  That is, the fundamental purpose of a company, or what it ultimately produces, is concisely characterized for others by its mission statement.

A well-defined mission statement provides clarity for both the internal organization and the public consumer alike.  Anyone can easily review a shrewd mission statement and say, “Ah yes, I understand what this company does and the value it is trying to offer the general market.”

This statement also provides guidance to employees by showing them the result of their efforts.  An employee at Walmart for example, would be able to recognize the value that their retail service provides for millions of families worldwide.  This can promote innovative thinking or higher rates of productivity when used effectively.

Typically, a mission statement is concise and straight to the point.  In terms of length, it could be anywhere from a single sentence to a short descriptive paragraph.

Example

To explain the definition of a mission statement, we will use the transportation company Uber. 

Uber’s mission statement, “Smarter transportation with fewer cars and greater access. Transportation that’s safer, cheaper, and more reliable; transportation that creates more job opportunities and higher incomes for drivers,” neatly sums up its purpose as a transportation service.  This gives an individual or audience an immediate understanding of what the company’s purpose is.  It also gives some insight into the attitude of the organization.  That is, they are passionate about offering transportation that’s “safer, cheaper, and more reliable.”  

We can further deduce that their service seems likely to prioritize the customer’s experience.  Moreover, that they value their employees.  This gives credibility to the idea that Uber is a quality service company.  One that people would be well-advised to work and consult with when seeking transportation services.

Key Takeaways

  • The definition of a mission statement is rooted in what a company does and the value it brings to the customer, which is then conveyed through the mission statement itself. 
  • A well-crafted mission statement should bring clarity and character to the purpose of a company.  Moreover, it should provide inspiration for employees and incentive for prospective customers.
  • The length of a mission statement should be no more than a short paragraph.
  • Ideally, anyone should be able to read a mission statement and immediately understand what is being offered. 

Understanding The Mission Statement

An organization’s mission statement will define its unique characteristics.  Everything from core values, workplace culture, ethics, and long-term objectives, can be readily defined by its inherent mission statement.  Typically, these company-held traits will also be referenced in relation to how they are applied in day-to-day operations.  Whether it is with customers, suppliers, shareholders, distributors, or even a greater community, the mission statement will explain how its mission will positively impact those it interacts with.

Organizations tend to use mission statements as a way of aligning their core values with their operations.  Particularly when dealing with ethics or the public, a mission statement will give some direction about what is to be expected.  Many companies pride themselves on engaging amiably with not only consumers, but also the communities in which they are situated.

Some larger corporations have notably spent millions on creating fashionable and up-to-date mission statements.  This reflects how important it is to define a business’ purpose and ethics through a suitable mission statement.  After all, a household name cannot gamble on any turn of phrase, and must carefully cultivate its image.

It can even take years to perfect an effective statement for public release and use.

Some key attributes about an effective mission statement are:

  • The relative definition of a mission statement explains what a company does in a concise way.
  • The statement explains how a company goes about accomplishing its purpose.
  • It describes the inherent value of the good or service being offered.
  • There is context (I.E:  A “story”) about why a company does what it does, and how its purpose is important to / for others.
  • Some investors may even reference a mission statement to better understand if a company’s core values are aligned with their own.

Examples of Mission Statements - For Reference

Mission statements have been commonly used for decades.  They can vary considerably depending on the industry they are found in and the companies themselves that choose to make use of them.

Below are some mission statements from well-known brands.  These should give you some insights as to what a mission statement commonly looks like:

Company: Amazon

Amazon’s Mission Statement:  We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.

Key Takeaway:  Amazon has refined its mission statement over the years.  The latest iteration reflects its leadership in the online retail space that the company has come to inhabit (at one point, Amazon simply sold books!). 

They have effectively positioned themselves to be low-cost, with a huge selection, and most definitely customer-centric in the convenience they offer.  This is a powerful statement for both customers, suppliers, and potential investors.  It definitely merits review, if you wish to create your own mission statement one day.

Company: Tesla

Tesla’s Mission Statement:  To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Key Takeaway:  A simple, yet powerful mission.  Tesla’s ideal vision of the future is clearly in line with many environmental concerns today.  As of 2021, Tesla’s stock has soared as speculation about its promising future rivets across the globe.  This mission statement likely helped create awareness about the electric cars and sustainable energy projects that the company is currently producing.

Company: Patagonia

Patagonia’s Mission Statement:  Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Key Takeaway:  Patagonia has developed itself to convey an idea vision of the future.  Not unlike Tesla and Amazon, they are taking environmental initiatives seriously.

Company: TED

TED’s Mission Statement:  Spread ideas.

Key Takeaway:  TED’s mission statement is increasingly becoming a rare breed in today’s information-centric age.  Two words.  That’s it.  Yet these two words capture our interest, as we ask ourselves, “What ideas?” 

If you can lull your audience in the way TED does, and convey a very simple message such as this, you too may one day reap sizeable rewards.

Company: LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s Mission Statement:  To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

Key Takeaway:  LinkedIn has proven very successful over the years of its existence by adhering to its mission statement.  It proves effective at communicating their organization’s goal yet is also intuitively simple.  They want to connect professionals.  This will ultimately allow them to be more productive, which will lead to more success.  Very fitting indeed.

Company: Google

Google’s Mission Statement:  To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Key Takeaway:  Much like LinkedIn, Google has done a superb job at animating its own mission statement.  As a company, google has adhered to this vision.  Its algorithms are now famous for seeking out the most useful and up-to-date content that the web has to offer, and then organizing it for easy access.  Users across the globe can seek out the information that interests them (or that they need).  Again, if you can create a mission statement like Google’s, and follow it to the letter as they have, you will soon find yourself wildly successful.

Company: Uber

Uber’s Mission Statement:  Smarter transportation with fewer cars and greater access.  Transportation that’s safer, cheaper, and more reliable; transportation that creates more job opportunities and higher incomes for drivers.

Key Takeaway:  As we noted earlier, Uber’s mission statement paints an interesting picture for the future dynamics of transportation.  As a service, Uber is clearly seeking to revolutionize the way we think and act on our methods of transportation.  Creating job opportunities and safer ways of getting around screams social responsibility.  This gives huge credibility to any company that is even remotely capable of following through in its mission.  It’s likely in the future that many transportation models will follow in Uber’s footsteps.  They may just be onto something.

Company: AirBnB

AirBnB’s Mission Statement:  Belong anywhere.

Key Takeaway:  Much like TED, AirBnB captivates with a mere two words.  As a company they’ve become well-known for tapping into a viable part of the economy and turning it on its head.  People everywhere can now find safe, reliable spaces to rest their head wherever they find themselves.  In more recent times, AirBnB has struggled.  The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on travel, and by extension, people simply aren’t leaving home.  Nonetheless, I would not discount this company in the future.  They’ve certainly already proven capable of adapting to a shifting business landscape.

How To Create A Mission Statement Of Your Own

Writing a carefully crafted mission statement is no small task.  Try sitting down for a few moments and crafting one yourself. 

While you’re likely to have many ideas at first, narrowing it down to something both catchy and practical is not easy.  It can take a great deal of patience and determination just to create your first draft.

In order to cultivate a powerful mission statement of your own, try to first explain the primary purpose and value of your company.  What is it that you do?  Why do you do it?  Who benefits from your efforts?

Whether you offer goods or services, you want to carefully depict the way you conduct your operations.  This means painting a friendly picture of the value you offer to consumers.  Try to avoid being technical.  Instead, focus on what value the customer will enjoy from the goods or services you provide.

A growing trend is the sustainability of business practices the world over.  Try to reference how you are monitoring or actively minimizing your carbon footprint.  This will make the environmentally conscious more likely to look favourably upon your business structure.

If you tend to provide innovative solutions or a unique product, be sure to draw as much attention to that fact as possible.  Many surveys show that customers increasingly prefer unique goods and services.  This means that essentially anything that sets you apart from your competition needs to be advertised as often as possible (including through your very own mission statement!).

When wrapping up the final words of your mission statement, always try to include the “why” of what you do.  This gives you an opportunity to add a story to your brand.  Whether it is a desire to help people, to create a perfect product, or offer a unique service, your “why” is what people will ultimately walk away with.

When drafting these elements together, try to keep things as concise as possible.  The shorter the better also.  A lengthy or complicated mission statement will inevitably lose its message.  People will either become frustrated or simply walk away having lost their interest.

Once you have a completed version of your ideal mission statement, its time to carefully edit its contents.  Even better, have a friend or family member critique it.  If you can have multiple people look it over and offer advice, you should do so.  The more feedback the better.  It will give you a sense of what you’ve done right and what can be improved upon.

With your freshly completed and edited mission statement ready, you can now begin incorporating it in your marketing campaigns.  If you have a website, it is highly advisable you make your mission statement clearly visible for visitors. 

Always keep your mission statement front and centre.  If you have crafted a meticulous statement for your enterprise, it will inspire your stakeholders to take a more active role in your organization.  Customers will react positively as well!

Key Takeaways

  • A mission statement should clearly explain the purpose of a company.
  • Despite outward appearances, an ideal mission statement is never easy to craft.
  • Some companies spend several years and millions of dollars to create their perfect mission statement.
  • In order to cultivate a powerful mission statement of your own, try to first explain the primary purpose and the inherent value of your company.  What is it that you do?  Why do you do it?  Who benefits from your efforts?
  • Remember that the length of a mission statement should be no more than a few sentences, or a short paragraph at most.
  • An ideal mission statement will convey your cultural values, and the business ethics you strive to fulfill.
  • If done well, a mission statement can provide guidance and inspiration for your employees.  Moreover, it will garner the attention of active investors, who may see your company as worth of their time and capital.

Pro Tip:  Remember the definition of a mission statement is rooted in a concise way of explaining your business to others.  Don’t get caught in too many details!  Keep your description as short and to-the-point as possible!

Definition For Mission Statement

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mission Statements

Many enterprising organizations can greatly benefit from the use of an effective mission statement.

The Advantages:

  • It makes the purpose and goals of an organization clear.
  • It offers consumers insights about what they can expect from the company.
  • A well-crafted mission statement will inspire employees to perform and innovate more readily.
  • Mission statements can provide guidance to a company’s focus and help them make better decisions in the future.

While there are many positives associated with a mission statement, there are also some clear drawbacks.

The Disadvantages:

  • Some mission statements can appear pretentious or unrealistic.
  • The definition and nature of a mission statement is such that it must be concise.  This can restrict creative potential.
  • A poorly written mission statement can actually demotivate employees and push customers away from the business.
  • Despite the outward appearance of being short and easy to write, mission statements can be a costly investment (both in terms of time and the potential cost involved).

Mission Statements For Individuals

Many companies enjoy inspiring mission statements that endure for years.  The same is also true for many professional individuals. 

Crafting a personal mission statement can be an excellent investment.  Much like a company, an individual can quickly convey their own inherent core values and business model in just a few brief sentences.

When done well, an individual mission statement can convey a deep sense of what others can expect from that person professionally. 

Example

A lawyer’s mission statement proclaims that “there are no wrong questions” if he is called for consultation.  Moreover, he may even use his mission statement to indicate that his services are free, unless the court case in question is won and a financial settlement is procured.

Both of these would indicate that he is interested in the welfare of his clients, as opposed to personal enrichment.

Key Takeaways

  • Individuals -just like companies- can create and enjoy the benefits of their own mission statement.
  • An individual mission statement is tailored for personal use in a business setting.
  • A personal mission statement may convey spiritual, financial, professional, or relational information to help others decide if their services are right for them.

Mission Statement When Compared To A Vision Statement

Not to be confused with a mission statement, a vision statement is an entirely different format of conveying a company’s ideals.

A mission statement deals with the present purpose of a company.

Conversely, a vision statement deals with the future goals and hopes of what a company wishes to one day achieve.

Both a vision statement and a mission statement may change over time.  Overall however, a mission statement tends to stay relatively the same, whereas a vision statement can change drastically. 

They also tend to be used together in certain circumstances but are in fact separate communiques that are used to define the company as a whole. 

In essence, the definition of a mission statement is rooted in what a company currently is, and how it operates.  The vision statement is the journey towards what a company wishes to one day become.

Example

Toyota states that its mission is to build the best cars possible for its customers.  However, its vision is to remain a premiere car manufacturer well into the distant future.

Key Takeaways

  • A mission statement is the current status of a business.
  • A vision statement is the future ideal of what that business may one day become.
  • Used in tandem, a mission statement and a vision statement can provide a foundation for a business to thrive.  Moreover, they will detail a company’s purpose and story to prospective stakeholders (I.E: customers, investors, potential employees, etc).

Further Reading

The definition for a mission statement is always apportioned to a concise series of sentences that can readily explain the functionality of a business.  Further, the definition of a mission statement should never be confused with a vision statement.  Though the two may seem interchangeable or even similar in nature, they serve entirely different purposes.

For many, a mission statement (much like a vision statement) can potentially change.  It is the best practice to continually review your organization’s mission statement, in order to ensure that it still accurately reflects your purpose as a business.

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