How to Craft a Powerful and Persuasive Mission Statement
By Loretta Soffe
Crafting a powerful and persuasive mission statement involves four steps: defining your purpose, being specific and accurate, being relevant and inspirational, and keeping it succinct. A well-crafted mission statement provides focus, guides decision making, shapes company culture, and serves as a powerful message to customers. To develop a mission statement, ask why your company exists, for whom you deliver your product or service, and what makes you unique. Choose your words wisely, avoid jargon, be relevant and inspiring, and keep it short and memorable. Finally, communicate and gain alignment.
“To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price.”
“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Can you guess these outstanding companies based on the openings of their mission statements? I am going to take the liberty to assume most of you answered “yes”. It is simply because mission statements like these (Warby Parker, Tesla, Starbucks) clearly summarize the company’s objectives, strategy, and values. In doing so, they create focus, both internally and externally, and leave little room for interpretation regarding what they do, how they do, and why.
Having a well-crafted mission statement is invaluable to the success of your business for many reasons.
- It guides your organization as the foundation for the business.
- It provides a filter for decision making leading to sound strategies.
- It helps shape company culture and facilitates consistency and alignment.
- It serves as a powerful message to your customers — conveying your brand’s passion and vision in a way that intrigues, reassures, and communicates authenticity.
So how do you Develop Your Mission Statement? Follow these 4 Steps….
#1 DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE
Ask yourself why does your company exist? For whom, and how do you deliver your product or service? What differentiates you? If you’re an E-Designer who offers virtual design services, be specific on WHO your services are for, what problem(s) they are trying to solve, and what makes you unique in your service offering. Together, these elements combine to distinguish your value proposition.
An excellent example of this is Linkedin whose purpose is “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”. It is crystal clear what they do, who they do it for, and why.
#2 BE SPECIFIC AND ACCURATE
Avoid using industry buzzwords and jargon, and use the old elevator speech guideline as if you were describing your business to a person in an average elevator ride.
Choose your words wisely, and make it easy to remember and a reflection of what you ACTUALLY do (or intend to do). It is critical that your employees and customers can understand and repeat your mission statement.
Consider Google’s mission statement which could not be more specific and accurate “To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The lesson here is don’t overthink it, just clearly articulate exactly what you do and why you do it.
#3 BE RELEVANT AND INSPIRATIONAL
While it’s important to make your mission plausible and attainable, it can also be powerful to include an inspirational element. This element can encourage your team members to not only work towards the mission, but take tremendous pride in both their role and the company.
Chipotle, for example, aspires to “Cultivate a better world”. While its mission might begin without directly referencing the food it makes, it quickly becomes aspirational. The company links its core service (making food) with its broader values (connecting how food is raised, prepared and tastes).
#4 KEEP IN SUCCINCT
My best advice is to go back to the elevator speech and keep your mission statement short and sweet. If it’s am accurate description of what you do, and you are 100% focused, by nature it will be succinct.
I can’t find a better example than TED whose mission is to “Spread ideas”. Less is always more.
Once you’ve written a mission statement illustrative of your business, your job is only half-finished. You must communicate with your team and strive to gain alignment across every activity within your organization.
As a leader, you need to “carry the flag” and remember everything you do can ultimately reflect the values, purpose and passion behind your company's mission statement.
A well crafted, relevant and specific mission statement can serve as a daily reminder of your business, what you’re striving to do, and why you're doing it. It can guide you for years to come. And like a finely tuned machine, don’t underestimate the small changes will improve it and make it exactly right.