What makes a good mission statement? Is it a succinct sentence that captures your company purpose, a catchy slogan, or something more? The best mission statements leave a lasting impression of your brand in the minds of your consumers, encouraging them to choose you over another vendor. A quality mission statement incorporates your company core values and reflects your organization’s personality. So, how do you get started with crafting your own? And which companies are doing it right?
Let’s first explore what a mission statement is, how to craft one, and then review 12 examples of amazing mission statements crafted by leading enterprises.
What exactly is a mission statement?
A mission statement is defined as an action-based statement that declares the purpose of an organization and how they serve their customers. This sometimes includes a description of the company, what it does, and its objectives.
A mission statement provides perfect clarity behind the “what,” the “who,” and the “why,” of your company. The best mission statements are guidelines by which a company operates. Everything you do as a company should work toward your mission statement.
Most mission statements are between one and three sentences, never exceeding 100 words. The best mission statements are typically a single succinct sentence, so keep this in mind when crafting yours.
Your company’s mission statement should be communicated to employees before their first day on the job. It should be highlighted on all your recruiting and onboarding materials, and employees should know it by heart. After all, this is the mission your employees should be aligned with every day. Otherwise, they’ll come into work feeling aimless and struggling to understand their purpose.
How do I craft a mission statement?
To craft a compelling mission statement, you’ll need to follow a few steps. First, be careful: you don’t want to fall into the trap of accidentally creating a vision statement, which is different than a mission statement. A vision statement describes what a company aspires to be, as opposed to what it is now.
When creating a mission statement, avoid the common pratfall of trying to summarize your company’s services in a generic sentence.
Step 1: Interview Leadership
First, interview leadership about what they believe your company’s purpose is. Ask questions like:
- What prominent challenges does our company solve? Why are we in business?
- When you first applied, why did you want to work for us?
- Who are our customers, and what do they value most?
- What kind of image do we want to convey to the outside world as a company?
- How do we use our products and services to reach our goals?
- What do you think our organization’s purpose is?
- What do you like about working for our company?
- What differentiates us from our competitors?
- What underlying philosophies and principles shaped your responses to the previous questions?
Ensure every member of leadership is involved in this process. Take notes during your interviews and observe similarities and differences between the answers. Do you see certain themes or topics emerging? If so, you can use these to shape your mission statement.
Step 2: Identify Common Themes from Your Interviews
Next, review the common themes that emerged during your conversations, distilling them into paragraphs. You’ll want to set aside several hours to do this, or even an entire day. It’s important that you carve out the necessary time to spend on this process since crafting a mission statement is critical to identifying the motivations behind your business. When developing ideas, keep the following in mind:
- Your mission statement should be attainable. Your company should be working toward it already and it should be possible to achieve.
- Ensure your mission statement is clear so everyone can understand it.
- The best mission statements are inspiring for management and staff.
- It should set your company apart from others and be unique to you.
- Your mission statement needs to be credible and inspire buy-in from all your major stakeholders.
Once you have these paragraphs written, rewrite each to be more succinct. Eliminate as many unnecessary sentences as you can. Once you have each paragraph distilled down to three sentences, challenge yourself to combine these sentences into a single thought that encapsulates your theme. Do this with every theme you’ve discovered during your interviews and you’ll end up with several options for a mission statement to present to leadership.
3 Common Mission Statement Mistakes to Avoid
While you’re developing ideas for your mission statement, be sure to avoid the following common mistakes:
1. Leaving Little Space for Inspiration
A mission that reads more like a fact sheet than something that explains a company’s reason for existing won’t be effective. Avoid simply listing what your company does and shift your focus to the bigger picture: what guides your company strategy and inspires your workforce.
2. Lacking Personality and Fun
The best mission statements incorporate your company’s unique personality. Your mission statement should not be devoid of humanity — while it’s tempting to create a mission statement that presents your company as a professional and serious organization, it’s more important (and ultimately more beneficial) to reflect the culture that makes your company unique.
3. Using Buzzwords and Jargon
Bogging down your mission statement with buzzwords and jargon is a common misstep companies make when crafting mission statements. The best mission statements are comprised of simple, clear language that directly communicates a company’s purpose.
Step 3: Present to Leadership
Once you have identified a few options for your mission statement, present them to leadership and get feedback. Be prepared to hear a lot of conflicting opinions — this is all part of the process! Mission statements don’t evolve in a vacuum, and it will take time to iterate on your ideas.
Once leadership has bought into your mission statement, you’re ready to start communicating about it to your employees.
12 Examples of the Best Mission Statements
Now that we’ve examined what a mission statement is and how to create one, we can address the key question of this article: what does a good mission statement look like, and who’s doing it right? Here are 12 of the best mission statements for you to review and use as inspiration for your own.
“To inspire humanity — both in the air and on the ground.”
JetBlue aimed wide with their mission statement, proving that not all mission statements have to be tailored specifically to what a company does. This inspirational statement focuses on their audience, creating an immediate connection with readers, which isn’t surprising considering their history of creative and personal marketing. JetBlue promotes themselves as a group of service-oriented people dedicated to “bringing humanity back to air travel,” so this mission statement works well to reflect their branding and company personality.
“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla focuses on enhancing the use of sustainable energy throughout the globe, so it’s no surprise that their mission statement reflects this. Plus, we love their use of “accelerate” right in the mission statement: it’s a great play on words that reflects their industry. This mission statement narrows the focus down to Tesla’s core purpose: to provide clean energy electric vehicles to the public, while still acknowledging the ongoing transition between fossil fuels and sustainable energy. This self-awareness that their market is still relatively young sets Tesla apart as having one of the best mission statements.
TED’s mission statement is simple, which makes it stand out on this list. While you might find it ironic that a media organization that hosts hours of content would stick to a two word mission statement, it actually fits with their branding. TED exists to share ideas online for free, and talks are usually limited to only 18 minutes. This kind of rapid-fire idea sharing is what makes TED such a lasting presence in American and global culture.
“To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
LinkedIn’s mission statement is succinct and descriptive, encapsulating exactly what the social media powerhouse does: connect professionals from all around the world. Their mission statement stands out as one of the best because it quickly and effectively captures the fundamental function of LinkedIn while placing an important emphasis on the users of the platform, who are always the focus of LinkedIn’s design strategies.
“To build the web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”
PayPal’s values center around being a leader in FinTech to democratize financial services for all. This message is apparent in their mission statement, especially because of the emphasis on being a “cost-effective solution.” Merging security with cost effectiveness accurately sums up PayPal’s central mission of providing affordable services that advance the global economy while protecting people.
“To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
Amazon is one of the largest global companies in existence and has grown to include millions of consumers and sellers. This mission statement’s emphasis on customer service and low prices truly encapsulates exactly what Amazon provides to its customers, all while highlighting just how large Amazon is and how far it reaches.
“To help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.”
Asana’s warm and friendly marketing aligns well with their mission statement. They have adapted the common tech-friendly sentiment of “making the world a better place,” but they have incorporated their own unique spin on this value by turning its focus toward their product. While this mission statement might be vague, they narrow their focus just enough to make their mission statement feel personalized to their company.
“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.*
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Nike stands out among the best mission statements for a lot of reasons, but our favorite is the style and tone of this mission statement. The use of the asterisk is unique and gives the audience something to think about. Furthermore, their message is inclusive, which follows notable trends in marketing when reaching millennial and Gen Z audiences.
“To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.”
In an ever-changing world, Nordstrom has maintained one constant: their commitment to customer service. Nordstrom has been in business for over 100 years, and their mission statement has evolved with the industry. However, each iteration of their mission statement focuses on the customer experience due to their emphasis on quality and style, not just buying clothes.
10. American Express
“We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”
American Express has differentiated itself from other credit card vendors by constantly emphasizing their commitment to customer service. This mission statement is a great example of reflecting this value: not only does American Express value customers’ opinions, but they also value the opinions of their own employees. By putting employees and customers first, American Express has established itself as a respected brand throughout the globe.
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
This mission statement is great because it combines all the elements that make Patagonia successful: their high-quality products and their core value of putting the environment first. Patagonia is a company focused on selling products and giving back, which is why their core value is a perfectly balanced hybrid of what makes their business stand out from the rest. Plus, their emphasis on their product keeps their mission statement grounded and actionable.
“To put people at the center of enterprise software.”
This mission statement is unique for several reasons: it encapsulates Workday’s stance that they are an enterprise software, dedicated to standing out among competitors. Simultaneously, it takes a look at the HR software industry as a whole, making a pointed statement that, ironically, even in the HR space, people are often at the wayside. This is a confident mission statement that not only observes the state of the industry but also supports Workday’s values in tandem.
You’ve crafted your mission statement. Now what?
After you have created your mission statement, be sure to communicate it to your workforce. After all, you don’t want to invest this time and effort only to have your mission statement lose impact.
Meet with your CEO and leadership team to present your mission statement, take questions, and address any feedback. Once leadership has approved your mission statement, begin introducing it into your workplace. Send out a company-wide message to employees informing them of your new mission statement. Include your mission statement on collateral, make posters to hang throughout your offices, and regularly recognize employees who can recite your mission statement from memory.
This is also a good opportunity to reinforce your company’s core values by identifying and rewarding behaviors that align with them. Your mission statement should align with your core values, so use this chance to reward your team for embodying your company’s purpose and values. This positive reinforcement helps spread awareness about your new mission statement as well as boost morale. As a result, your company culture becomes even more appealing. With time, effort, and a strong mission statement, your company will be on the right track to focus on purpose and meaning.
Erin Nelson is a Digital Marketing Manager at Fond with over six years of B2B SaaS marketing experience. Erin has authored dozens of articles on employee rewards and recognition and frequently researches new trends in R&R. In their spare time, you can find them playing music, reading about socioeconomic and gender-based politics, and listening to true crime podcasts.