Writing a Mission Statement

Graphic of a mission statement and the words "writing a mission statement"

Have you ever discovered a business and wondered what it is they do and what motivates them to do it? What is their purpose?

“to empower people to trade with confidence”

The above, for example, is a simple mission of Avatrade Australia, (a Forex trading company in Australia that is becoming quite popular these days).  Simple and to the point.

“To promote understanding for the natural world and our place in it.”

That is the Smithsonian’s mission statement. It tells internal and external consumers what the organization aims to accomplish in a brief, simple way. However, not all mission statements are quite as spot-on as this one; some offer a broader look at the company. 

Aflac’s mission statement, for example, discusses combining aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices. It does this to provide the best insurance value for consumers.

This mission statement tells both employees and potential consumers that Aflac truly values services at competitive rates, as well as high-quality products. 

In short, a mission statement articulates a business’s purpose. It’s an essential part of any brand-building plan. Think about how the right mission statement could positively affect your business!

Why Are Mission Statements Important?

So why is it that businesses need a mission statement? Well, mission statements focus the business, both for its employees and for its target audience. A business’s mission statement acts as a framework by providing a launching point to build off of as the brand is established. From a consumer’s perspective, a mission statement sets a company apart from its competition. It also avoids limiting the purpose of the business. 

Think about Google’s mission statement: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” There’s no explicit mention of running a search engine, even though that is indisputably Google’s claim to fame. Google’s mission statement is left intentionally broad so that the business can continue to grow. 

What Should A Business’s Mission Statement Accomplish?

A business’s mission statement tells others two things: why the business exists and what differentiates it from the competition.

Take a look at this example mission statement.

Why the company exists: To alleviate human suffering in emergency situations

What makes the company different: It mobilizes volunteers and effectively handles donations.

So how is this example different from Goodwill Industries, which seems to be quite similar?

Goodwill’s Mission Statement: “Goodwill Industries International is committed to advancing employment, education, and skill-building opportunities for individuals across the globe.”

Why Goodwill exists: To advance skill-building, education, and employment.

What makes Goodwill different: It employs and educates individuals.

It’s clear that these two companies, although similar on the surface, actually have very different core business models. 

Finding a Balance

When constructing a mission statement, it’s important to strike a balance between realism and optimism. Overt realism reads like this: “We offer good service and quality products.” Meanwhile, an example of excessive optimism is, “Our goal is to be the number-one industry leader.” In reality, neither of these mission statements makes the company stand out. But if they are combined, they form a much stronger statement. However, what is it about this particular business that makes it better than the rest? This is where the key elements of a mission statement really come into play. 

The Four Key Elements of a Mission Statement

When brainstorming your mission statement, discuss these four key elements.

1. Value

From both a customer and an employee perspective, what is the value of the business?

2. Inspiration

Why should prospective and current employees want to work for this company?

3. Plausibility

Make sure your mission statement sounds reasonable. 

4. Specificity

Your mission statement needs to be so specific that it could not describe any other business. 

Consider Honest Tea’s mission statement: “Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, healthier, organic beverages.”

What is the value? To create and promote organic beverages that are healthy and taste great.

Honest Tea strives to grow its business with the same honesty and integrity that they use to craft their products. 

What is the inspiration? To grow the business and craft its products with honesty and integrity.

As you can see, Honest Tea’s mission statement isn’t overly optimistic; it doesn’t promise to cure any diseases. It just aims to create healthy products. Honest Tea also points out that their organic beverages are great-tasting, therefore tying the mission statement back to their business brand. 

Creating an Effective Mission Statement: Tips and Tricks

There are multiple schools of thought regarding the creation of the perfect mission statement, but overall, there are some dos and don’ts to incorporate.

Do keep it concise.

Try to sum up your company’s mission within a few sentences rather than multiple paragraphs.

Don’t write a book.

A mission statement is intended to be a brief, memorable brand-building tool. Long chunks of text are not very memorable.

Do think about the future.

Remember, your mission statement is an investment in your company’s future. It needs to reflect your long-term goals. 

Don’t limit yourself.

Imagine saying, “We want to provide the best products in the state.” Do you only see your company selling to consumers in one state, or do you want to expand the business later on?

Do ask for employee feedback.

Talk to your employees and see what they think about the mission statement. Ask them if there is anything they dislike or would like to change. 

Don’t be afraid to make a change.

In the business world, change is inevitable. So if your mission statement no longer reflects the business, don’t be afraid to rewrite it. 

The Bottom Line

In general, a mission statement is a declaration of the parts of the business that make it important. It’s designed to draw in customers and guide employees’ actions by explaining exactly what the business plans to accomplish.


Posted by Avatar photo
By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *