Definition of vision and mission: A vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what an organization wants to ultimately become. A mission statement focuses on today and what an organization does to achieve it. Both are vital in directing goals.
Mission, vision, values. We’ve heard this trio rattled off countless times, rapid-fire like they’re one catchy phrase — when, in fact, they are three very distinct concepts for organizations.
The lines especially get blurred with vision and mission statements. But when it comes to the drive and direction of your company today and tomorrow, you don’t want to have trouble seeing when you’re behind the wheel. And, the same rings true for your content marketing.
So, we’re breaking down the difference between a vision and mission statement — and rounding up stellar examples from top brands — to help you better understand and define your company’s essence with confidence.
What is the difference between a vision and a mission?
The vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what the organization wants to become. The mission statement focuses on today and what the organization does. While companies commonly use mission and vision statements interchangeably, it’s important to have both. One doesn’t work without the other, because having purpose and meaning are critical for any business.Your mission statement focuses on today; your vision statement focuses on tomorrow. @BrittSkrabanek Click To Tweet
What is a mission statement?
Your mission statement drives the company. It is what you do/the core of the business, and from it come the objectives and finally, what it takes to reach those objectives. It also shapes your company’s culture.
Mission statement questions look like:
- What do we do?
- Whom do we serve?
- How do we serve them?
This trickle-down effect of a mission statement confirms its value at any company. Just by its definition, you can quickly see how a solid mission motivates a team to advance toward a common goal, because they started at the same place and they are working together to reach the same end-goal.
On the other hand, a weak mission — or no mission at all — can have the opposite effect. Picture this: silos, miscommunications, flailing, feeling unmotivated. And, imagine what that does to a company. Scary, right?
For content marketers
Your content strategy supports the company’s mission statement — think of it as the HOW of what you do. This helps you stay on track, true to your brand and true to your goals. Every piece of content you create should be rooted in your mission statement, from the tone of voice to the call-to-action.
What is a vision statement?
Your vision statement gives the company direction. It is the future of the business, which then provides the purpose.
The vision statement is about what you want to become. It’s aspirational.
Vision statement questions look like:
- What are our hopes and dreams?
- What problem are we solving for the greater good?
- Who and what are we inspiring to change?
The vision statement promotes growth, both internally and externally. A strong vision helps teams focus on what matters the most for their company. It also invites innovation. A purpose-driven company envisions success as a whole, because they know what success means for their company.
On the flip side, a lack of vision is a road to nowhere for a business. Imagine this: stagnation, outdated processes, moving without purpose, feeling uninspired. Can a company even survive without a clear vision? You know the answer to that one.
For content marketers
The content vision supports the company’s vision statement — this is the WHY of what you do. This helps you stay forward-thinking, true to your beliefs and true to your purpose. Every piece of content you dream up should fly high with your vision statement, from the inception of an ebook to the lofty blog traffic milestone.
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Brands that get it: 25 examples of vision and mission statements
So, what do great vision and mission statements look like? Here are 25 companies that get them right. And, they have the customer loyalty to prove it.
Mission: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Vision: To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
Why it works: What better word than “accelerate” in a mission to serve as the driving force behind what Tesla does. While boldly stating “best in the century” reflects loftier dreams in the vision.
Mission: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
Vision: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Why it works: Amazon’s mission is cut-and-dry about what they offer to customers. The vision takes the offerings farther, saying their company will offer “anything” customers want.
Mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Vision: A love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet.
Why it works: Building and implementation in Patagonia’s mission convey what they achieve every day. The tone of the vision changes dramatically, showing a company who will rise up to protect the future.
Mission: Spread ideas.
Vision: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
Why it works: The TED mission to “spread ideas” is a simple demonstration of how they serve. The vision is all about impact, how spreading ideas invokes change in the world.
Mission: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
Vision: To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
Why it works: LinkedIn succinctly captures what they do (connect) and who they serve (the world’s professionals) in their mission. While the vision encompasses every working person in the world.
Mission: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Vision: To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
Why it works: Google may seem complex, but its mission clarifies that organization and accessibility are what they offer. Their vision statement is about improving accessibility in the future “in one click.”
Mission: Uber’s mission is to bring transportation — for everyone, everywhere.
Vision: Smarter transportation with fewer cars and greater access. Transportation that’s safer, cheaper, and more reliable; transportation that creates more job opportunities and higher incomes for drivers.
Why it works: Uber “transports,” so it is the perfect actionable verb for their mission. The vision dives deeper into how their transportation services exist for the greater good of everyone.
Mission: Belong anywhere.
Vision: Tapping into the universal human yearning to belong—the desire to feel welcomed, respected, and appreciated for who you are, no matter where you might be.
Why it works: In just two words, the Airbnb mission says “we help you feel at home.” They explore a deeper sense of belonging in the vision, tapping into the universal human desire their company aims for.
Mission: Utilize the power of Moore’s Law to bring smart, connected devices to every person on earth.
Vision: If it is smart and connected, it is best with Intel.
Why it works: Intel “brings smart, connected devices” to everyone in their mission. Their vision uses more boastful language, illustrating great confidence in the future of their solutions.
Mission: We build cars, symbols of Italian excellence the world over, and we do so to win on both road and track. Unique creations that fuel the Prancing Horse legend and generate a “World of Dreams and Emotions.”
Vision: Ferrari, Italian Excellence that makes the world dream.
Why it works: “We build to win” in Ferrari’s mission focuses on the strength and quality of their product. In this ambitious vision, their cars will reach the pinnacle of “Italian Excellence.”
Mission: We are here to help our customers kick ass. We do that by living our strategy and ruthlessly prioritizing our work to create simple elegant technology that delights our customers – all while delivering service that is second to none. Every single day, we join forces across teams and groups to break down barriers, build new markets and stare down the impossible until the impossible blinks.
Vision: We will radically shift the global economy toward small business by empowering people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures.
Why it works: Though cheeky, “helping customers kick ass” wasn’t enough to explain what GoDaddy does and they ended up creating a lengthy mission. The vision uses “radically shift” to convey a passion for progress.
Mission: To enable economic growth through infrastructure and energy development, and to provide solutions that support communities and protect the planet.
Vision: Our vision is a world in which all people’s basic needs—such as shelter, clean water, sanitation, food and reliable power—are fulfilled in an environmentally sustainable way and a company that improves the quality of the environment and the communities where we live and work.
Why it works: “Enable” is a fancy word for “give,” but Caterpillar spells out their “how” concisely. While the vision digs more into their “why,” that their company will never stop improving environments and communities.
Company: Toyota USA
Mission: To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America.
Vision: To be the most successful and respected car company in America.
Why it works: Toyota’s mission demonstrates what they are known for: products and service. Even in a highly competitive industry, their vision states that they will become the best car company in the country.
Mission: Inspire the world with our innovative technologies, products and design that enrich people’s lives and contribute to social prosperity by creating a new future.
Vision: Inspire the world. Create the future.
Why it works: Samsung has a mixed bag for its mission and vision statements. Their vision lies within the mission, where they clarify how they “inspire the world” and “create the future.”
Mission: To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.
Vision: Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.
Why it works: Wikimedia’s mission motivates their team to move toward a common goal of empowerment and engagement. Their vision paints a future world where their company’s commitment makes a lasting impact.
Mission: To be the world’s favorite destination for discovering great value and unique selection.
Vision: Our vision for commerce is one that is enabled by people, powered by technology, and open to everyone.
Why it works: Ebay’s mission uses “destination” to show their virtual company as a real place people come to. An ongoing focus on people and technology get into the “why” of their vision.
Mission: 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.
Vision: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
Why it Works: The mission here focuses on the functionality of IKEA’s products and the affordability for their customers. In the vision, the IKEA team has a true sense of purpose in “creating a better everyday life.”
Mission: Shape the future of the Internet by creating unprecedented value and opportunity for our customers, employees, investors, and ecosystem partners.
Vision: Changing the way we work, live, play, and learn.
Why it works: Cisco decided on a blended mission and vision statement. Language like “shape the future” is more vision-oriented, but the mission talks about the people they serve.
Mission: A company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity.
Vision: Using our unlimited passion for technology, content and services to deliver groundbreaking new excitement and entertainment, as only Sony can.
Why it works: Sony gives a customer-focused touch to their mission by using “your.” The “unlimited passion” and “groundbreaking entertainment” messaging in their vision demonstrates innovation.
Company: Southwest Airlines
Mission: The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.
Vision: To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.
Why it works: Southwest Airlines tells us right up front that quality customer service is their mission. Their vision is highly aspirational across the board in saying they want to be “the most” of everything.
Mission: Power organizations with insightful solutions that drive business success.
Vision: Be the world’s authority on helping organizations focus on what matters.
Why it works: “Power” is a strong mission-focused verb that speaks to what ADP does. Becoming “the world’s authority” ties a lofty statement into their purpose of helping other organizations.
Company: Kaiser Permanente
Mission: Kaiser Permanente exists to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.
Vision: We are trusted partners in total health, collaborating with people to help them thrive and creating communities that are among the healthiest in the nation.
Why it works: Saying “exist” sounds more like a vision statement, but the rest of the mission says what Kaiser Permanente does. In the vision, “thrive” and “healthiest” are big words that show their impact.
Mission: The mission of Coinbase is to create an open financial system for the world.
Vision: Digital currency will bring about more innovation, efficiency, and equality of opportunity in the world by creating an open financial system.
Why it works: Coinbase didn’t sugarcoat what they do in their mission statement, did they? And, in the vision, their message speaks well to the change their company will bring one day.
Mission: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
Vision: People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
Why it works: Facebook’s mission is focused on the community their platform promises. Their vision talks about why community matters, interweaving how they will “bring the world closer together” from the mission.
Company: Whole Foods
Mission: Whole Foods Market is a dynamic leader in the quality food business. We are a mission-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. We are building a business in which high standards permeate all aspects of our company. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.
Vision: Whole foods, Whole People, Whole Planet.
Why it works: This mission uses repetition throughout to reinforce the quality that Whole Foods is known for. Making everything “whole” in their vision binds their company to a set of beliefs that they complete people’s lives.So, what do great vision and mission statements look like? Here are 25 companies that get them right. And, they have the customer loyalty to prove it. #branding #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
Mission statements for top brands:
- Adidas — To be the best sports company in the world.
- CalArts — CalArts teaches artists to develop the skills and personal drive to reach their creative potential, question received ideas and expand forms of knowledge and experience in the world. CalArts challenges artists to create work that matters globally to the state of culture today and in the future.
- Coca-Cola — To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit; to inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions; to create value and make a difference.
- Dunkin’ Donuts — Everything we do is about you. From chefs who create exciting new flavors, to crew members who know exactly how you want your drink—we prioritize what you need to get you on your way. We strive to keep you at your best, and we remain loyal to you, your tastes and your time. That’s what America runs on.
- Goodwill — Goodwill works to enhance people’s dignity and quality of life by strengthening their communities, eliminating their barriers to opportunity, and helping them reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.
- L’Oréal — L’Oréal has set itself the mission of offering all women and men worldwide the best of cosmetics innovation in terms of quality, efficacy and safety. By meeting the infinite diversity of beauty needs and desires all over the world.
- McDonald’s — Our aim is to provide a fun and safe environment where our customers can enjoy good food made with quality ingredients at affordable prices.
- The Met — The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.
- Microsoft — Our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
- MIT — The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.
- NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) — It is NASA’s mission to: explore, use, and enable the development of space for human enterprise; advance scientific knowledge and understanding of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe and use the environment of space for research; and research, develop, verify, and transfer advanced aeronautics, space, and related technologies.
- Nike — Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.
- Northwestern University — Northwestern is committed to excellent teaching, innovative research, and the personal and intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community.
- Oprah Winfrey Network — OWN’s mission to create multiple platforms for women, men and their families with a purpose and a passion: to celebrate life, to inspire and entertain, empowering viewers around the world to live their best lives, and by doing so, lift the lives of those around them in ever-widening circles.
- Pepsi — Create more smiles with every sip and every bite.
- Shopify — Making commerce better for everyone.
- Southwest Airlines — The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.
- Starbucks — To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
- Target — To help all families discover the joy of everyday life.
- Walt Disney Company — The mission of The Walt Disney Company is 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.
Mission vs. vision: Know who you are and where you’re going
The mission statement focuses on today and what we do, and the vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what we want to become. Both are important to a company’s survival.
Call it the essence, beating heart, or the defining characteristic — whatever you call it, make sure your mission and vision are clearly defined and understood for the sake of your content and your company.
Get a content mission and a content vision statement down on paper. Share it with your team members. Then you can measure your future content efforts against the two. And although they are not slogans or taglines themselves, they should definitely help inform them and all your content.
Knowing who you are and where you’re going is the foundation of an organization’s success. So, who are you? And, where are you going? Get tips on how the nature of planning itself can help your envisioned goals materialize: Mastering Time Management: The Five Primal Flows of Time.
This article was originally published in August 2017. It has been refreshed for 2019.