A mission statement is essential for any business hoping to compete in the modern marketplace.

Your mission sets a strategic agenda for your company and bolsters confidence in your most important stakeholders.

But what is a mission statement exactly? What role does it play in the strategic growth of your business? What do you stand to lose by not defining your mission? And who all needs to be aware of it?

In this post, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.

We’ll unpack a mission statement definition, look at dozens of mission statement examples, and give you tips for writing a mission statement of your own.

You’ll come away with a rock-solid foundation of knowledge on all things mission, so you can craft a strong mission statement for your brand.

CONTENTS

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is a strategic piece of messaging that describes how a company plans on achieving its vision. A good mission statement outlines what a company does, how it does it, and whom it does it for.

What are the practical offerings your business provides? How does it deliver those offerings in a unique way? Who are the most important customers your business serves?

The answers to these important questions should be clearly defined in your mission statement. A good mission statement is both strategic and inspiring.

Also known as a business mission, organizational mission, or company mission, a mission statement is an essential component of the brand compass, a strategic messaging system that also includes purpose, vision, and values.

The Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement

A woman speaks during a strategic meeting
An important part of any mission statement definition is the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. While the two ideas are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between them.

So, what’s the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?

Where a vision statement describes the desired end-state your organization hopes to bring about, a mission statement describes how you plan to achieve it. If your vision statement is your ultimate destination, your mission statement is a strategic roadmap for how to get there.

As we’ll see, a mission statement is usually more detailed than a vision statement, including what you do as an organization, how you do it, and whom you’re doing it for.

The Power of a Mission-Driven Business

A team works together in a conference room in on crafting a mission statement
In today’s market, mission is critical. Employees, customers, and investors alike are looking for brands with a clear sense of where they’re headed and how they plan to get there.

Your mission statement is your chance to spell out in detail the strategic direction of your business. It’s the what, how, and whom that drive everything you do.

Where your purpose statement should be profound and your vision statement should be inspirational, it’s important that your mission statement is clear and confident.

Your mission statement should bolster confidence in employees, shareholders, and customers alike. It should boldly declare to the world why your business is qualified to do what you do.

Defining your mission is about clearly outlining the problems your company was created to solve, explaining how you solve them, and identifying who benefits from those solutions.

Let’s take a look at why having a clear, confident mission statement is so important for today’s businesses.

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Establish Clear Strategic Direction

For many organizations like nonprofits, a mission statement is non-negotiable. It’s often built into an organization’s charter by the board of directors, making it a prerequisite for operations.

Now, there must be a reason why mission statements are a must-have for so many organizations. This is because a mission is a clear, comprehensive summary of your organization’s purpose and positioning.

It’s where any member of your key stakeholders—from customers to employees to investors—can go to quickly understand your business’s goals and plan of action.

And today’s customers are looking for brands that are more honest and transparent. A study by Accenture found that no fewer than 74% of consumers crave greater transparency from companies.

Improve Customer Trust

Beyond the clarity that it provides both internally and externally, a well-articulated mission statement is an important cornerstone of customer trust.

Research shows that mission is one of the top reasons customers are more likely to return to a brand. The only reasons that ranked higher than mission were quality, ethics, and brand name—all of which are outlined in a good mission statement.

The customer trust that is engendered by a solid mission statement leads to brand loyalty. And brand loyalty is one of the best says to measurably increase sales and revenue.

Boost Employee Loyalty

Mission is also important when it comes to recruiting and retaining top industry talent.

LinkedIn found that a whopping 71% of professionals say they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that has a mission they believe in.

And when it comes to the employees already on your team, they have been shown to be more productive if they have a clear understanding of your mission

A study by Gallup found that employee productivity is directly linked to clear communication about an organization’s mission.

When it comes to your business, there aren’t many things that are more important than loyal customers and loyal employees. A mission statement that clearly communicates the strategic direction of your business is essential for both.

How to Write a Mission Statement

A woman and her colleague collaborate on writing a mission statement on a whiteboard
At this point, we’re seen why a strong mission statement is so important to the success of your business. The next step is to clearly articulate your own company’s mission.

So how do you write a mission statement that confidently captures the essence of your business’s strategic direction?

As we’ve seen, your mission can be broken down into three essential elements: the what, the how, and the whom. Accordingly, one of the easiest ways to go about crafting a compelling mission statement is to answer each of these questions, one at a time.

Let’s take a look at how to answer the three questions that are central to any good mission statement.

Define What You Do

The first question you need to answer is what you do as a business. Seems straightforward enough, but there are a few important things to keep in mind when addressing your what.

Always frame your mission in terms of the impact you have on the world. Counter to some people’s impressions, a good mission statement is not about business growth or maximizing shareholder value.

Rather, your mission should address the problems your company was created to solve, and what you’re doing to solve them.

In the plainest terms, what does your business do or offer? It might be one thing, like “a revolutionary fintech platform,” or it might be three things, like “audit, accounting, and tax solutions.”

Do some brainstorming on the clearest way to summarize what you do and write the winning idea on a whiteboard.

Articulate How You Do It

Once you think you’ve answered the question of what you do, the next step is to address how you do it.

There are a couple different ways to think about the how. The first is how you’re different. How have you defined your brand’s competitive differentiation? What is the competitive advantage you have over other brands in the space?

The other way to think about your how is to ask how you help those you serve. How do you help your customers solve their most pressing problems? How do your products or services make their lives easier?

Decide which is the “how” that’s most central to what you do and add it to your whiteboard alongside your what.

Identify Whom You Serve

The final variable in the mission statement equation is the whom. This is arguably the most important part of your mission, as the best mission statements are centered on whom the brand helps with its work.

So, who do serve as a business? What types of people and/or businesses comprise your primary target audience? Whether you serve expectant mothers, aspiring athletes, young professionals, or small businesses, honing in on your whom is key to crafting a powerful mission statement.

Sometimes it’s enough to be general with your answer. There are many brands that are relevant to broad swaths of individuals, such that a term like “people” is accurate.

But if you’re able to specific with your whom, you should do so. As is the case with most writing, the more specific and grounded the better.

Add your whom to your whiteboard alongside your what and how and move on to the final step.

Put It All Together

The final step of in crafting your mission statement is to collect your answers to the above questions and put them together in a coherent and compelling statement. Your mission should clearly state what you do as a business, how you do it, and whom you do it for.

Need a bit more structure to work with? Use the following mission statement template as a jumping off point:

To [what you do] to help [who you serve] do/by [how you help them].

Of course, this mission statement template is only meant to serve as inspiration for the process.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a mission statement, as long as you’re clearly communicating the strategic direction of your business in a way that bolsters confidence in both your team and your customers.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Mission Statement

A young professional team collaborates on their mission statement around a low table
In addition to following the steps outlined above, there are a few things to keep in mind when you sit down to write your mission statement.

The following tips will help you get the most out of your mission statement. This goes for both crafting the message itself and bringing it to life across your organization.

Think Inspiring Yet Strategic

As we’ve seen, your mission is a confident assertion of your plan as a business. It’s designed to bolster confidence in employees, shareholders, and customers alike.

For this reason, your mission should be both inspiring yet strategic. It should boldly declare to the world why your business is qualified to do what you do in a way that appeals to both the left and ride sides of the brain.

In addition to clearly outlining the problems your company was created to solve, explaining how you solve them, and identifying who benefits from those solutions, it’s important that your mission statement strikes an emotionally rousing tone.

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Avoid Jargon & Buzzwords

Key to ensuring a confident yet grounded mission statement is avoiding jargon and buzzwords. This is a common pitfall for many mission statements—especially when it comes to large, corporate brands.

As we’ve already mentioned, a good mission statement isn’t about spearheading business growth or maximizing shareholder value. These types of internally facing, jargony phrases only serve to undermine the emotional impact of your mission.

As a rule, the more jargon you use in your mission statement, the less emotionally interesting it becomes. And the practical value of the statement is directly tied to whether or not people are interested in reading it.

End on a High Note

A good way to ensure your mission statement is confident, inspiring, and interesting is to end it on a high note.

Think of the last few words of your statement as an opportunity to paint a picture of the better world you help to create for those you serve.

Just look at mission statement examples from a few Fortune 500 brands to see how ending on a high note can make all the difference:

Forbes: “To convene, curate and cover the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business and making a significant impact on the world.”

Microsoft: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

While it is ultimately a strategic piece of brand messaging, the best mission statements include a bit of creativity and inspirational flourishes.

Ending your mission statement on a high note is a great way to drive home the positive change your brand brings about through its products or services.

Incorporate Your Mission Across Your Business

Of course, the final test of any effective mission statement is whether or not it’s implemented across your organization. This means clearly communicating your mission statement in the appropriate forums and using it to inform strategic decisions.

Most brands include their mission statement in their website copywriting, usually on the About page. It’s also essential for formal documents like your corporate charter and annual reports.

Your mission statement often forms the basis of your company’s boilerplate description, which is a standardized description of your business that usually appears at the bottom of documents like press releases.

At the end of the day, the most important role your mission plays is as a strategic plan. Because it’s a detailed account of your strategic direction, it can be referred to in tactical situations, to ensure you’re staying the course when it comes to the growth of your business.

Because your mission describes your commitment to a strategic course of action that will ultimately lead to the world you’ve described in your vision statement, your mission should be the ultimate metric by which you measure your progress along the way.

43 Mission Statement Examples

3 mountaineers hike across a snowy landscape. Microsoft's mission statement is featured
As always, the best way to understand the true power of a mission-driven business is to see some mission statement examples in the world’s top brands.

Let’s take a look at how some of the world’s most successful brands have articulated their mission to bolster confidence in employees, customers, and investors alike.

Some of the following mission statement examples are more successful than others, but seeing the full spectrum of quality should give you a better sense of what to try to emulate—and what you should aim to avoid.

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.”

Asana: “To help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.”

Nike: “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

JetBlue: “To inspire humanity—both in the air and on the ground.”

Tesla: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

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

PayPal: “To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”

Nordstrom: “To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”

American Express: “We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”

Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Workday: “To put people at the center of enterprise software.”

Warby Parker: “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”

IKEA: “To offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low, that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

Invisible Children: “To end violence and exploitation facing our world’s most isolated and vulnerable communities.”

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

Forbes: “To convene, curate and cover the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business and making a significant impact on the world.”

Microsoft: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Starbucks: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

American Red Cross: “To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

MoMA: “To share great modern and contemporary art with the public.”

Peace Corps: “To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.”

The Walt Disney Company: “To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.”

Twitter: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers.”

Airbnb: “To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere and we are focused on creating an end-to-end travel platform that will handle every part of your trip.”

Casper: “To awaken the potential of a well-rested world.”

Prezi: “To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act.”

Sony: “To fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity.”

Facebook: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

BBC: “To enrich people’s lives with programs and services that inform, educate and entertain.”

Kickstarter: “To help bring creative projects to life.”

Cisco: “Shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners.”

Adobe: “To move the web forward and give web designers and developers the best tools and services in the world.”

Intuit: “To improve its customers’ financial lives so profoundly, they couldn’t imagine going back to the old way.”

Genentech: “To develop drugs to address significant unmet medical needs.”

Caterpillar: “To enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet.”

Home Depot: “To provide the highest level of service, the broadest selection of products and the most competitive prices.”

DuPont: “To create shareholder and societal value while reducing the environmental footprint along the value chains in which we operate.”

Doctors Without Borders: “To help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care.”

Southwest Airlines: “To connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Hyatt: “To deliver distinctive experiences for our guests.”

Toyota: “To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.”

Ford: “To help build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.”

USAA: “To facilitate the financial security of its members, associates, and
their families through provision of a full range of highly competitive financial products and services; in so doing, USAA seeks to be the provider of choice for the military community.”

The Takeaway

A well-crafted mission statement is one of the best ways to bolster customer trust and build brand loyalty. By identifying what you do, how you do it, and whom you do it for, you can chart a strategic course toward achieving your organization’s vision.

So, be confident, be strategic, be inspirational. As we’ve seen with the many mission statement examples listed above, there’s nothing like a grounded yet rousing mission statement to reinforce confidence in your brand’s most important audiences.

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A prolific blogger, speaker, and columnist, Brian has two decades of experience in design and branding. He’s written for publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, HuffPost, and Brand Quarterly.