In our last Content Kitchen video we unravelled what makes a great ’one liner’ for your business. This week branding expert Jän Ostendorf of Purpose Branding is back with a great guest post that lifts the lid on why you need both a vision and a mission statement.
If you’ve taken the time to discover and define your purpose as my last blog post How to build your brand with purpose explained, then now you’re ready to develop a vision and mission statement. But why would a small company need a vision and a mission statement?
Both the vision and mission statements should communicate your purpose. They build on the foundation of purpose and continue to clarify why your business exists and why people should care.
It will attract the type of employees you want on your team. If they identify with the vision and mission, everyone will support the business for all the right reasons. That’s important when you’re building a team and you don’t want to waste time and energy always trying to find “good people.”
Defining what it means to be a “good” team member is important so expectations aren’t missed by either party. Furthermore, defining what it means to be a great team member can be expounded upon in your core values or belief statements.
Many large and successful companies are now using the core values as a measuring stick to hire and fire employees regardless of performance. I believe this is good practice in order to build a long and stable work atmosphere.
How to write a great vision statement
Your vision statement should be an extension of your purpose. What would you like to bring to the world? What do you want to exist that doesn’t already exist? It needs to be audacious. Something that makes you think, “I might not be able to pull this off” or “It may take a lifetime to achieve.” It needs to make others think, “I want to be a part of this.” You want a vision statement that inspires others to believe what you believe. Just as Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech or John F Kennedy’s promise of putting a man on the moon within a decade.
What’s your dream? People will be attracted to your hopes and dreams. When you choose to stand for a vision that seems unsurmountable, you make yourself the underdog. People love to help the underdog achieve their goal. There’s something inside every one of us that wants the underdog to win. I believe your vision statement should make you feel a little nervous. It may seem a bit over the top and unreachable. Don’t let fear dictate your actions. There are too many safe and predictable vision statements out there that inspire no one.
The vision statement will be a tangible way people can measure your purpose. It should take years or decades to achieve. It shouldn’t be affected by industry trends or disruption from technology. If it is, then it’s too specific and probably has “the how” written in. It should sound universal and could include almost any culture or any person.
Once you write the vision, I recommend that you don’t post your exact statement on any of your marketing materials. That is to say, make a list, like you did your homework. Having it listed is much too utilitarian and cold. Think about it: when you meet someone for the first time, they never shake your hand and quote their personal vision or mission statement to you. Over time, you hear what they say and watch what they do and this leads you to understand what’s important to that person. The sentiment of the vision statement should set the voice and tone for all your copy on your website, blog posts, social media posts, etc. It should reflect your brand personality and be seen, heard and felt everywhere and conveyed in everything the company does.
What makes a great mission statement?
The mission statement is “the how” of your vision. How do you plan to implement your vision and make it a reality? How do you do things differently than your competitors? Some people call it a mini business plan. It should encapsulate “the what” and “the how” while being written in the spirit of “the why.” Keep it simple so everyone on your team can remember it – and maybe even paraphrase it in their own words. Make it compelling, so people want to be a part of it both as an employee and as a customer.
When trying to write the vision and mission statements, people will often write in core value – words like “with integrity” or “fun.” Those descriptive words are essentially core values. It’s okay to have a few of those, but words like that are describing “the way” you will carry out “the how” of your mission. Expound on those important thoughts in your core value statements. You shouldn’t beat people over the head with these statements, but use them to guide the copy development and how you talk about your studio.
For both internal employees and external customers, being clear about what you’re trying to accomplish will yield the type of results you’ve been wanting. What seeds are you planting? What type of person are you attracting to your business? Be intentional about the message you are sending.
Do you know what your vision, mission or core value statements are? Would you like help identifying and clarifying these so you can better help your customers? Book a free consultation to find out more.
About the author
Jän Ostendof runs a branding consultancy called Purpose Branding where he helps small privately-held business owners clarify their message, both verbally and visually, bringing the power of branding to small businesses.
He lives just outside Dayton, Ohio with his wife Sonja and two children — just a block away from their yoga studio where he practices Ashtanga daily.