On March 30, 1971, a small coffee business was launched by three friends at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. Little more than a spark in a highly competitive industry, that same small coffee shop, Starbucks, is now a multinational super chain that grosses just over $5.7 billion in annual revenue. A few years later, in 1976, Los Altos, CA fostered the birth of a small computer business—run out of a garage—that has since become the first stock to reach $3 trillion in market cap under the infamous ticker symbol APPL (Apple Inc.). Nearly 50 years later, Tesla Inc. is dominating the electric vehicle market, holding the top three spots for most popular EVs and managing $16.8 billion in yearly revenue—an unprecedented feat for a company founded as recently as 2008.
Starbucks, Apple, and Tesla are all examples of extremely successful organizations that represent the best of the best when it comes to design, production, marketing, sales, and operations. They also represent an incredible commitment to two of the most important business traits and characteristics: mission and vision.
While not every business can expect to reach the meteoric heights of Apple, Tesla, and Starbucks, there are thousands of examples of successful companies that thrive due to their development and promotion of a strong mission and clear vision. In the modern business landscape, mission and vision statements are critical to employee satisfaction, new hire acquisition, and organizational culture. Let’s take a look at what mission and vision statements are, how they can bolster both internal and external engagement, and how you can begin to craft (or promote) them within your organization.
Simply put, a mission statement is a summary of the goals, aims, and values of an organization. It should provide readers with insight into a company’s aspirations and dreams, and should be founded on a measurable, tangible purpose. Let’s look at a couple examples, starting with aforementioned Tesla, Inc.
Tesla’s mission statement is simple: “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.” Bold, strong, and descriptive, Tesla’s mission statement creates a brand image and culture that appeals to customers and employees. By clearly articulating the mission of the organization, Tesla positions itself well within the industry, both among competitors and in the more general trend to create an emissions-free future.
Another great example of a strong mission statement is Patagonia, Inc., an outdoor clothing retailer with over $750 million in yearly revenue across 10+ countries on 5 continents. For over 45 years, Patagonia’s mission has been “to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Along the same vein as Tesla, this mission statement takes Patagonia beyond their status as a clothing brand and making them an international archetype of sustainable production and distribution.
Both Tesla and Patagonia are driven by clear goals that have an impact outside their organizations. Their mission statements provide clear and effective guides for decision-making, as well as talent acquisition, employee retention, and charitable initiatives.
A vision statement is an inspirational and aspirational statement of an idealistic future for an organization. Often, vision statements focus on positioning an organization in a broader landscape in the future, providing both consumers and employees with insight into the “why” of a business. Tesla is also a great example here, and not just for the subtle vehicle pun: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” This vision statement clearly articulates why Tesla wants to be at the forefront of electric vehicle and solar panel production—to bring the world into a future of sustainable and renewable energy.
A vision statement is critical to every organization because it establishes a sense of identity than can attract and retain talent which in turns leads to better overall business outcomes and more cost-effective L&D ventures. Not to mention, many consumers are drawn to strong vision statements, and will patronize organizations that align with their personal values.
Crafting a Strong Mission & VisionNow that we’ve established how mission and vision can bolster both internal and external efficiency, let’s quickly go over the steps your organization can take to craft an excellent organizational identity.
- Survey your employees. Mission and vision don’t appear out of thin air—they start with the culture and process you already have in place. Reach out to your employees and get a sense of what they value. This can provide a strong foundation for crafting statements that appeal to internal stakeholders.
- Focus on your audience. Much like many other PR endeavors, crafting a mission and vision statement needs to consider your primary audience, which in most cases is clients and customers. Don’t get too specific—create a vision that is easy to understand and relatable for modern consumers.
- Understand and articulate your position in the industry. Mission and vision statements are great opportunities to explain where you see your organization fitting into a much larger, more complex business landscape. Effective company values position your organization favorably by setting it apart from others in similar areas.
- Be authentic. Don’t try to sugar coat your company’s mission and vision or try to make it too appealing—your employees will see right through that. Instead, be proud of your purpose and create company values that appeal to others who respect and appreciate the work you do.
- Be open to change. The business landscape is changing rapidly, and so are most organizations. What might be the “perfect” mission and vision statements today could be irrelevant 6 months from now. Be open to change—it will help your organization stay competitive.
Effective Deployment of Mission and VisionOnce you have mission and vision statements in place, here are a few great ways to get them engrained in your company culture.
- Announce the new change company-wide and provide an explanation to your employees for purpose and design of the new organizational values.
- Leverage mission and vision in sales conversations with clients and customers.
- Use your mission and vision as building blocks for other organizational procedures and standards (i.e., employee & contractor code of conduct).
- Develop long-term strategy with your mission and vision statements as the guiding principles.
We’re always looking for new ways to improve company culture and employee outcomes and creating strong mission and vision statements is one of the cornerstones of ensuring your organization is on a clear, actionable path. Not every business can expect to be quite like Patagonia, Apple, Tesla, and Starbucks, but creating strong company values that employees and customers can rally behind is a great start. By engraining standards of purpose and goals company-wide, your organization can take an important step toward better employee outcomes and more authentic public perception.