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Why Your Business Needs a Mission Statement (or something like it)

Whether we’re talking about the framing  of your house or the framing of the Mona Lisa – carpenters and artists alike would agree that framing is essential. This is especially true in the age of the internet – where you don’t always control how or when customers “experience” your business.

If you think of your company’s taglines, logos, and other elements as the framework of your brand – it’s easy to see how they support the bigger picture that is your business. They tell your customer what to expect, and when experience matches expectation, you win a repeat customer. If your company’s messaging could use an overhaul, start with the support system. Start with the frame. 

Goal: Create a statement that speaks to both your employees and your customers (bonus: come up with a decent tagline)

To get started, answer the most important question: “Why do you do what you do?”

Now more than ever, your customers care about what you care about. 

In 2019 – as individuals and companies alike face more transparency than ever before, customers care about your values.  Consider two studies:

  • A 2018 Cone/Porter study shows that 77% of consumers “feel a stronger connection to purpose-driven companies over traditional companies”. 
  • A 2018 study by Bright Local shows 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people ages 18-34) 

FACT: in 2019, more people care about your values and more people are comparing you against your competitors online. 

This doesn’t mean you need to suddenly donate half your revenue to charity. It just means your customers care about your purpose beyond profit – and that can mean anything from simply improving your community to innovating your industry.  

Thinking about where you see your brand now and in the future becomes infinitely easier if you start with your “why”. Why do you do what you do? Call it a mission statement, a vision statement, or a manifesto – it doesn’t really matter (and it doesn’t have to be rocket science!) Just think of it as a simple statement of your beliefs, your values, and how they influence the way you operate your business.  


It’s important to understand this isn’t just some vague intellectual exercise. Your goal should be to come up with something you’d be comfortable hanging over every employee’s workspace.

 

So, Where do you begin? Mission Statement, Vision Statement, or ‘brand Manifesto’?

The Mission Statement

Your mission statement is how you tell your customers what you do, who you do it for, and why. It’s the nuts and bolts of your message. This is important – but it’s also more concrete, more straightforward, more grounded in reality than your vision statement. A mission statement is less flexible than a vision statement, but it can certainly change – because as your company grows, so too can its objectives and goals.

Looking for a great mission statement example? TED has a fairly straightforward and traditional approach.

The Vision Statement

vision statement is where you tell your employees (and customers) where you’re going

It’s not a roadmap, but your dream. When Steve Jobs envisioned the future of Apple Computer, he envisioned a future where computers are an essential part of the home. He didn’t lay out a concrete roadmap to make it so. Similarly, whether you’re a pizza shop or a manufacturer – your vision statement should answer, “Where do you want to go?”

The Brand “Manifesto’

Despite the somewhat silly name, a brand manifesto recognizes there’s no one-size fits all solution to convey the who, what, why, and how behind your business.

When classic advice like “keep it to 3-5 lines” just doesn’t cut it, don’t be afraid to come up with something that fits you. Sometimes, working with some constraints can help. Other times, you need the freedom to really tell your own story.


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