Writing a purposeful mission statement is a valuable skill - check the missions statements of the top brands to get inspired writing yours.
You should define your mission statement before you even start searching for your business name or sketching your logo concepts.
A mission statement is a written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus.
Your mission statement comes even before your positioning statement or any other branding initiatives - it's basically at the very core of your brand.
So if you're working on a branding or rebranding project, you're in the right place - start by drafting your mission statement first.
Mission statement, together with vision statement, core values and brand personality are the core components of a brand strategy.
It is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.
Or as Simon Sinek defines it - your WHY.
A brand's mission is to serve as a filter to make decisions that are "on brand" and it normally remains unchanged over time.
The statement should be able to inspire your team and your customers alike to contribute to something larger than themselves.
Why is that some companies seems to have a clear purpose and others don't?To answer these questions, let's look at some of the best brands and their mission statements:
Leaders and brands who know their mission:
Every leader and team has a deep-seated purpose, cause or belief that is the source of their passion and inspiration.
You may not know yet what's yours, or how to express it in words.
In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek uses the Golden Circle model to explain how legendary leaders such as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk were able to inspire and create iconic brands.
And it all comes down to asking the right questions:
You must do this in the right order - from the inside out.
When we meet new customers or clients, the first thing we do is we tell them WHAT we do - our products and services.
Then we explain HOW we do it or how we are different from our competitors - things that make us stand out form the crowd.
But very few of us can clearly articulate why we do what we do - what's our brand purpose, cause or belief.
Why does your company exist?
When we align emotionally with our customers and clients, we create meaningful brands.
Brands that people love and want to be a part of.
Brands that people believe in and trust in their superiority.
So let's look at some of the best brands and their missions statements to learn what makes them so powerful.
Apple, unlike its competitors, has defined itself by WHY it does things, not WHAT it does.
Apple's Mission Statement:
To challenge the status quo, to think differently.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs saw the personal computer as a way for the little man to take on a corporation.
Apple may not always sell the very best products e.g. battery life, high price.
But if you're someone who wants to "think different", you probably swear they have the best products.
If people made only rational decisions, no one would ever buy a Mac.
But of course, people do buy Macs and some even love them to the point that they have built a cult-like following.
The design and user interface of Apple products, though important, are not enough in themselves to generate such astounding loyalty among their customers.
People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
Notice that Apple rarely uses features or benefits in their marketing campaigns (WHAT), but instead they rely on communicating the core brand mission (WHY).
Apple's mission statement was formed as its founding in the late 1970's and hasn't change to this date.
There are people who walk around with Harley-Davidson tattoos on their bodies - that's insane.Harley-Davidson's Mission Statement:
To fulfill dreams of personal, All-American freedom.
People proudly wear Harley logo because it's no longer about Harley - it's about them.
It's simple: Harley riders are bonded to each other.
But how can you justify their overpriced motorcycles?
Why other brands like Triumph or Indian are nowhere near in sales?
People who are drawn to Harley - you don’t need to talk to anyone about which brand to choose.
They feel the utmost confidence in their decision and the only question they ask is which Harley.
The rational features and benefits, facts and figures absolutely matter (WHAT), but not to drive the decision to give money or loyalty to the company or brand.
That decision is already made - those decisions started with WHY—the emotional component of the decision.
After years of Harley being crystal clear about their mission and being consistent about everything they say and do, their logo has become a symbol.
It no longer simply identifies a company and its products; it identifies a belief.
The logo caries so much meaning in people's lives because it helps them express the meaning of their own.
Disney brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world.
Disney's Mission Statement:
To create happiness for people of all ages, everywhere.
The reason we trust Disney is simple; we know what they believe.
Consider this: you have to babysit a kid and you opt for cartoons.
You have two brand-new DVDs to choose from, one of the DVDs is from some company you never heard of and the other is from Disney.
Which one would you choose? - the truth is we trust the one from Disney.
Disney operates with a clear sense of WHY.
They have been so consistent over time in everything they say and do that parents trust them enough to expose their children to Disney content without vetting it first.
That has nothing to do with quality products (WHAT), this is not rational (WHY).
We make decisions based on out "gut feeling" that is directly connected to a company's mission, cause or belief.
Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind.
We trust those with whom we are able to perceive common values.
We want to be around brands who are like us and share our beliefs.Also check the Disney's vision statement here.
Facebook allows people to discover what’s going on in the world and of course to share and express what matters to them.
Facebook's Mission Statement:
To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
The mission statement clearly communicates that Facebook has the goal of connecting the world.
There are plenty of social media platforms, yet Facebook dominates for a reason.
A company is a culture, a group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs.
It is not size and might that make a company strong, it's the culture.
The strong sense of a mission that everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist, all share.
The goals is not to hire people who have a skill set you need, the goals is to hire people who believe what you believe.
Microsoft has a clear mission since the small company was founded in the garage with dreams to make it big.Microsoft's Mission Statement:
To empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
Bill Gates’s passion for computers inspires us, but it’s his undying optimism that even the most complicated problems can be solved that draws us to the brand.
He believes we can find ways to remove obstacles to ensure that everyone can live and work to their greatest potential.
It's Bill Gates's optimism to which we are drawn.
The best engineer at Apple, would likely be miserable if he worked at Microsoft.
Likewise, the best engineer at Microsoft would probably not thrive at Apple.
Both are highly experienced and work hard, both may come highly recommended.
However, each engineer does not fit the culture of the other’s company.
The goal is to hire those who are passionate for your WHY, your mission, cause or belief.
And who have the attitude that fits your culture.
Once that is established, only then should their skill set and experience be evaluated.
Google, founded in 1998, follows its corporate mission leading to its current position as one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Google's Mission Statement:
To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
The success of Google is directly connected to business efforts to fulfill its mission—learn more on its about page.
Such fulfillment supports the company’s growth in the computer technology (software and hardware), cloud computing, consumer electronics, and digital content distribution industries.
The mission statement is used as bases for the company’s strategic choices, especially in dealing with the external factors in the industry environment.
Ever since its beginnings, the company has focused on developing its proprietary algorithms to maximize effectiveness in organizing online information.
The company’s mission statement adheres to a utilitarian benefit that the business provides to its users.
As you probably know, Google wasn't the first search engine, but now it dominates the category.
Who even uses Yahoo, Bing or other search engines anymore? - they didn't manage to have a clear purpose.
They were not able to define their WHY and communicate it in everything they do.
But Google continues to focus on ensuring people’s access to the information they need.
Tesla was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric .
Tesla's Mission Statement:
To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
That electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars.
Today, Tesla builds not only all-electric vehicles but also infinitely scalable clean energy generation and storage products.
Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better.
A great example of a company, a group of people working together for a common cause.
Elon Musk, is also a perfect example of an inspiring leader who has a dream to change the world.
The most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.
They are constantly reminded WHY the company was founded and told to always look for ways to bring that cause to life.
They have a mission to fulfill, so that while performing their job, they do more than their job.
Also check the Tesla's vision statement here.
Starbucks thrive not because of its coffee but because of the experience it offers to customers.
Starbucks Mission Statement:
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person and one cup at a time.
The Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, loved of the espresso bars of Italy, and it was his vision of building a comfortable environment between work and home.
The “third space”, as he called it, allowed Starbucks to create a coffee-shop culture in the United States that had until then only existed on college campuses.
That was the time when Starbucks stood for something.
It reflected an underlying belief about the world
.It was that idea that people bought, not the coffee.
A clear sense of mission (WHY) sets expectations.
When we don't know an organization's mission, we don't know what to expect, so we expect the minimum: price, quality, service, features.
But when we have a sense for the WHY, we expect more.
Otherwise how would you justify paying over $3 for coffee that costs $1 or less?Also check the Starbucks' vision statement here.
Coca-Cola seems to have a clear sense of mission.
Coca-Cola Mission Statement:
To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of happiness.
The company is very consistent in communicating their mission through everything they do and say.
Most companies have logos, but very few have been able to convert these logos into meaningful symbols.
One of them is Coca-Cola - when we look at the logo we have this inherent sense of optimism and we see smiles and happy people.
A symbol cannot have any deep meaning until we know WHY it exists in terms bigger than simply to identify the company.
Without clarity of WHY, a logo is just a logo.
But when you are clear about your mission, then you can show how your products advance that mission.
Have you noticed that Coca-Cola always concludes their ads with smiling people, sharing joyful moments and only then they show their products?
This is because they want you to associate that logo with feeling of happiness.
Most companies make such a big deal about investing in their brand is because branding is a perception, not a calculation.
Therefore, it's difficult to measure the results of branding unlike, for example, marketing.
But like all other intangible factors that contribute to the perception of value:
A strong brand start with a clear mission statement.
Use this mission statement template to write yours:
In this template, contribution is what you give to others - it's an action verb.
And impact is how this contribution will impact their lives.
This is a bulletproof template that you can use to create a draft of your own mission statement.
If you want to learn more, check the book "Start With WHY" by Simon Sinek.
Why some people choose one brand over another?Even though they don't have any rationale do so?A great idea or a great product isn’t worth much if no one buys it.
In conclusion: inspiring brands act and communicate exactly in the same way - they start with their mission.
Remember that WHY is your mission, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that mission and WHATs are the results of those actions.
That feeling of a being on a mission, or having a purpose larger than ourselves is what makes these brands successful.
They all have a clearly defined mission statement that inspires customers and employees alike.
One that makes people want to interact with and be a part of the brand.
Hungry for more knowledge? – check the original book:
This article was written based on the book "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek.
Learn how to write a purpose (mission) statement — check out the Brand Purpose exercise in my Brand Strategy Guide.