Mission Mastery: How to write a mission statement to elevate your brand
How do you write a great mission statement? Whether you’re building a brand from scratch or you’re working to improve your current company, a mission statement is critical to your success.
But, let’s face it, writing a mission statement is hard. Sometimes it can feel like you’re just throwing a bunch of buzzwords at the wall and seeing what sticks. I’m here to tell you a secret: That method isn’t great for pasta, and it certainly doesn’t work for your mission statement. You’ll just end up with with a disruptive mess of paradigm-shifting synergy on your hands.
If you want to actually craft a compelling mission statement that captures the core of your brand, gets your team fired up, and succinctly shares everything you’re about, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through:
- Why a mission statement is so important
- The three key elements your mission statement needs
- Examples of great mission statements, and why they work
- Tips and Exercises on how to write your mission statement.
Your mission statement mission, should you choose to accept it (and you should), begins now.
Why is a mission statement so important, anyway?
As we cover in Elevation’s Guide to Brand Building, creating a brand isn’t about picking a good looking logo and catchy tagline. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). Our philosophy about branding is holistic: it’s about who you are, what you do, and - most importantly - why you do it.
Your mission statement is so critical because it expresses the why of your brand.
When we approach brand building, we start with the Brand Core - which we define as a combination brand’s mission, vision, purpose, values, and point of view. It’s a set of ideals that every employee and brand ambassador can embrace. It is the reason your brand exists.
Whether you know it or not, your brand's core influences everything you do now and provides a roadmap for where you're headed.
Creating a great mission statement can be a critical first step into forming a strong brand core. It’s an easily digestible distillation of your brand’s values, vision, purpose, and point of view. More simply put, your mission statement is your brand’s elevator pitch.
A great mission statement gives you direction, motivation, and a reminder of why you got into business in the first place.
If you want your brand’s core to be as strong as a Hemsworth, read more here.
The three elements that make a mission statement successful
Mission statements should be simple to understand, which is no simple task. There are many factors that inform your mission statement, from your values to your vision. However, to keep things as concise as possible, we think a great mission statement should include three elements.
- Benefit: This is the value you provide to your audience or to society at large.
- Point of View: How do you currently see the world and your place in it?
- Goals: What do you want to accomplish? What change do you want to see in the world?
By combining these three elements, a great mission statement will outline the goals of the brand with a point of view, while defining how the brand will benefit society or its audience.
What is a good example of a mission statement?
I’ve picked out seven examples of companies that can say “Mission Accomplished” when it comes to their mission statements. These all exemplify the key elements that mission statements need, which I outlined above.
Here are some of my favorite mission statements, plus why they are absolutely crushing it.
Patagonia: We’re in business to save our home planet.
Why it works so well: While Patagonia is known for making high-quality clothes and gear for outdoor enthusiasts, the true value in the brand lies in the fact that millions of Patagonia fans connect with and extend the brand over a shared sense of purpose to save the planet. This mission statement deftly combines Patagonia’s goals, benefit, and point of view. It provides a greater purpose behind every product they develop, and their mission of “saving our home planet” make their customers feel like they’re contributing to a worthy cause by engaging with the brand.
LinkedIn: To connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful.
Why it works so well: While other social networks transform and bloat with features that may or may not benefit their users, LinkedIn stays true to their purpose through a focused mission statement. LinkedIn is the go-to network for our professional personas. As LinkedIn expands and evolves, their added features are crafted to help professionals in different ways. This dedication on their mission helps shape their product, which in turn provides an easily understandable value to their audience.
Kickstarter: “To help bring creative projects to life.”
Why it works so well: While there are many crowdfunding platforms, Kickstarter has differentiated itself as a major financial resource for creative projects. This has resulted in the creation of countless projects, from board games to major motion pictures. Their mission statement concisely expresses the value they bring to their intended audience of creative individuals who want to see their projects come to life.
Rivian: Rivian is on a mission to keep the world adventurous forever.
Why it works so well: As a splashy new brand in the electric vehicle space, focusing on adventure makes a lot of sense for Rivian. Their first two vehicles are a truck and an SUV with off-roading capabilities. However, their mission statement cleverly ties into the inherent sustainability of their electric vehicles as a “more responsible way to explore the world.” It is also a timeless mission statement that is bigger than just developing electric vehicles, which provides room for Rivian to expand their product offerings.
Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
Why it works so well: “Designer eyewear at a revolutionary price” is a good example of mission statement language that is ambitious, aspirational, and powerful. You could rephrase it as “offer affordable glasses that look good,” and it would lose the impact. This mission statement shows the importance of choosing the right words.
TED: Spread ideas.
Why it works so well: TED’s mission statement is impactful in its simplicity. The concise nature of “Spread ideas” is apt for the company that popularized the power of succinct talks.
Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.*
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
Why it works so well: Nike’s mission statement uses a non-standard format to make a bigger statement about inclusivity. The first line in their mission statement does a lot of things really well: powerful language, ambitious goal, a clear benefit to their audience. However, the asterisk and footnote are my favorite parts. It conveys Nike’s values, invites as many people as possible to be part of their intended audience, and the changeup in format makes the reader pay attention. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be an athlete, Nike does. That’s a powerful message, simply conveyed.
How to write a strong mission statement
How can you write a mission statement that’s as powerful as the ones I listed above? What makes a mission statement strong? Here are a few writing tips to make sure that your mission statement has maximum impact.
Make it Clear: You want your mission statement to be easily understandable to someone who has never heard of your company. While you may read your mission statement as an insider and understand the intent of the message, you need to make sure that there’s a universality to the message. Use straightforward and specific language.
Make it Concise: A question we often hear is “How long is a typical mission statement?” Keep it short and sweet at under 30 words. In fact, the mission statements I listed above are all between 8 and 19 words long. Write a short mission statement, and then challenge yourself to rewrite it even shorter. One or two sentences will maximize impact.
Make it Ambitious: Your mission should be bigger than just making and selling products in your category. The example mission statements above all have great ambition behind them, whether that’s transforming their industry, impacting the human race, or even saving the planet. It may feel uncomfortable or even cheesy to give yourself permission to think that big. But your mission statement is where you should make your biggest swing.
Make it Impactful: One way to make your mission statement ambitious is to use powerful language. You want to evoke some type of emotion, whether that’s excitement or inspiration. Want some examples of impactful action words for a mission statement?
This list is just a start. If your mission statement is coming off as flat, try rewriting it with more dynamic or powerful language.
Make it authentic: Your branding should be an authentic expression of who you are. As a central piece of your Brand Core, it’s imperative that your mission statement comes from authentically from your vision and your values. If you’re including something in your mission statement just because it sounds good but not because it gets to the heart of your organization, it will ring as false.
What to avoid in a mission statement
Adding too many ideas: Your mission statement does not need to describe everything that your company does. You may think that it’s critical to include specific product details or financial goals with the mission statement, but this isn’t necessary.
Using vague language: A major component of your mission statement should be your goals. If your goals are vague, it will be impossible to tell if you are making progress toward them.
Just following trends: There’s a fine line between keeping up with best practices and just following the current hotness. step back and think “Will this hold up in a year or five years?” Your mission statement can and should be updated from time to time, but you want to take a bigger picture approach. If you’re including a trendy buzzword, try to rephrase it in a way that’s a bit more timeless.
Copying another company’s mission statement: Unless plagiarism is one of your core values, using someone else’s mission statement will just come off as a huge red flag and demolish trust. The benefit you get is extremely outweighed by the risk. Draw inspiration from those who do it well, but ultimately you need to forge your own mission.
Mission Statement Exercise: In A World
Need help starting the conversation around what your brand mission could be? Here’s an exercise that can get the ball rolling.
Imagine your brand is the hero in a movie, out to solve a problem in the world. This exercise will help you define the problem and your approach to solving it.
Give each decision maker 10 minutes to fill out their responses to these prompts. Then share everyone’s answers, combining the best, or choosing one as a basis to begin crafting a meaningful mission statement for your brand.
“In a world where…” Outline the problem you are trying to solve. Consider individual pain points as well as larger societal impacts.
“You need…” Define what the audience needs in order to solve the problem.
“We are…” Define your organization and what you do.
“We can help with/provide you with…” How do you solve the problem, bring value to your audience, and differentiate your brand?
”Making your future/world better by/through…” How will life be better for your audience?
Mission Statement: Accomplished
I hope that you found the mission statement tips and advice helpful. One of my favorite parts about working with Elevation is collaborating with brands to craft clever, impactful, and creative copy. With this blog post, you should be equipped to elevate your branding through a powerful mission statement.
If you’re interested in finding other ways to build your brand, check out the following resources:
- Elevation’s Guide to Brand Building
Our team at Elevation is passionate about helping brands Outdare Gravity with their messaging, and we'd love to hear from you! If you're interested in learning more about brand building or need help with writing your mission statement, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.