Evolving and clarifying these statements are fundamental to businesses staying relevant and their marketing efforts making an impact.
When was the last time you re-examined your company’s vision and mission?
Your company’s vision and mission are crucial right now, especially as marketers. The pandemic caused us to re-evaluate what we think of the working world –are we getting the benefits we need as employees? The wellbeing support? Do we share the same values as the company we work for and with? If we don’t, why?
When the world throws what you do into question, it’s critical to revisit your why. A company’s vision and mission are fundamental decision-making and pathfinding tools. They can shape everything from product or service delivery to hiring, finance, customer communication, and yes, marketing.
As the business landscape continues to change, vision and mission statements likely need to evolve as well. Refreshing and reestablishing your “why” can lend businesses new clarity and energy while aligning the team around a shared, meaningful goal. It can also be a powerful way to stand out from the competition and increase customer loyalty.
What makes a mission or vision statement effective?
First, let’s define our terms. Vision and mission are not the same things.
A company’s vision is what the organisation wants or intends to achieve. It imagines the future state of the company, the community the company serves (i.e. its customers or clients), or both.
A company’s mission is its plan of action, writ large. It outlines in broad terms how the organisation will realise its vision.
Vision statements are aspirational while mission statements are actionable. The two function together to chart a destination for the company as well as the route to the destination. Effective vision and mission statements are crafted with this understanding in mind. Without a clear delineation between the vision and mission, your company’s guiding statements may become ambiguous or unworkable, perhaps too large in scope. For marketers, this breeds confusion in external messaging.
The best vision statements balance long- and short-term thinking. They contain principles that team members can use when planning years ahead and make daily decisions in the meantime.
Great mission statements, meanwhile, are ambitious but achievable. They hold organisations to high standards while offering tangible results.
Both statements need to reflect the values and hopes of the company’s key stakeholders—not only leadership, but also employees and customers, as well as the community or communities the organisation impacts. This means looking beyond what you already do well or merely what you want to do and instead envisioning the positive effects your company should have.
Who does your organisation answer to and what aspects of their lives is it responsible for improving? For example, a company’s responsibility may be to provide the best customer service in the industry. Or maybe it’s to exceed clients’ expectations, serve as a partner for customers’ growth, or protect the environment and the safety of employees. Here’s a library of mission statements for more examples.
Regardless, both statements should be ownable and launchpads for future marketing efforts.
Bringing in stakeholders
The key to crafting vision and mission statements that resonate with stakeholders is to involve them in the process. This isn’t to suggest you should ask your customers or clients what the next vision and mission statements should be, or crowdsource things entirely to employees. Instead, create transparency and trust—while maintaining direction and momentum—by bringing certain people in at certain stages.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. To determine the right move for your organisation, consider the company’s size and customer base, as well as the impact of changing your vision and mission. In general, the more profound the change and the more people it will affect, the more steps and stakeholders the process should have.
First, do some research. Collect materials that represent the company well and communicate its value clearly. You may want to research customers’ preferences, behaviours, and demographics, along with relevant data about your market. But don’t let this information dictate how you express the company’s purpose. Keep in mind this exercise isn’t about what makes your company different, but what makes it valuable.
Involve employees early on. Be open about your intention to revitalise the vision and mission and consider how you can invite them to contribute their thoughts, sentiments, and ideas. After all, you’re determining a set of objectives they’ll share, so they should have some input!
Think about creating a team to lead this process, propose options, and hone the language of vision and mission. Not everyone will want to be involved, nor is it the smartest use of every person’s time. Ideally, this team should be no more than a dozen people (if not half that).It should include representatives from different departments and organisational levels and have a diverse mix of people in terms of identity, job role, and tenure.
When the team has candidates or options ready, it’s time to gather feedback. This can range from having one or more formal or semi-formal focus groups to informal conversations with colleagues, friends, and even a few long-time customers or clients. See how different vision and mission statements land: Are they clear and concise? Do people feel energised when they hear or say them?
The impact of great vision and mission statements
The right vision and mission doesn’t just feel good—they offer real, immediate value to stakeholders and customers.
A set of effective vision and mission statements will shape how employees think and talk about themselves and their accomplishments. They can use the new statements to better prioritise and understand their work, perhaps even setting new objectives and key results (OKRs) and KPIs.
Customers’ or clients’ relationships with the statements, meanwhile, may not be as overt but are no less tangible. Assuming you’ve ingrained their needs into the vision and mission—and employees have adopted the new purpose—your company will necessarily serve them better. In other words, it isn’t so much about telling the people you serve that you have a revitalised vision and mission, but showing them by delivering on your purpose every day.
Do it right and you’ll stand out from the competition while empowering employees to make life even better for the people you serve. That leads to improved customer loyalty and positive sentiment around your brand. I can’t think of a better use of your organisation’s time right now.