A good mission statement can communicate the essence of a company in less than 100 words, as you’ll see in the 10 great mission statement examples we share in this post. Marketing experts say good mission statements can do big things, like helping unify a company behind common goals; guide its strategic planning; set it apart from the competition, and chart its path into the future.
Not a bad day’s work for a few sentences, right?
In this post, we’ll define mission statements, list the 7 key elements every good one should include, and look at how those 10 mission statement examples achieve so much in so few words.
We hope this helps guide and inspire you along the way as you write mission statements for your clients or your own business.
What is a mission statement, anyway?
A mission statement is a short, concise, powerful definition of the essence of a business: its purpose, goals, values, and future direction.
It describes the “what we do” and “how we do it” of a business. Many times, it includes the “why we do it” as well, sharing the aspirations and long-range direction of the business. That’s sometimes covered in a separate “vision statement,” but many of the best mission statements cover vision, too.
A company vision should include their “why,” “how” and “what”
· Why the company does it
· How the company does it
· What the company does
All good mission statements cover these same key topics, but great mission statements are so unique and well thought out that they can only fit one specific company. They are pure distillations of that company’s culture.
To demonstrate that, let’s look at Southwest Airlines’ statement:
“Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. We are committed to provide our employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”
In just 42 words, Southwest’s mission statement dedicates the company to providing the industry’s best customer service and describes how it will deliver that service. It doesn’t forget employees, either, promising to provide them with a stable workplace and equal opportunities for progress.
The company also created a 12-word vision statement that charts the airline’s future, speaks to customers, employees, and shareholders, and is completely aligned with its mission statement. It reads:
“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”
Southwest’s statement demonstrates another powerful aspect of mission statements. They are a powerful public commitment to its customers, employees, and the world at large---a commitment the company promises to live up to.
7 elements that make the best mission statements
In this section, we’ll dig more deeply into the key qualities of effective mission statements.
Be brief and concise
Clearly state your company’s purpose
Set your company apart
Show your company’s value in the marketplace
Be believable and accurate
Be unique and distinctive
Look to the future
Let’s briefly expand on those points:
1. Be brief and concise
Boil down the answers to the what, how, and why questions about the business into two or three sentences that total fewer than 100 words in length. Your statement should be clear, crisp, and compact. Make every word count. Here are writing tips to help you say a lot in a few words.
2. Clearly state the company’s purpose
Describe why the company exists. What problem are they solving? Make it plain and simple.
3. Set the company apart
Seize the chance to clearly describe how the company provides a product or service in ways that are different or better than your competition.
4. Show the company’s value in the marketplace.
Here’s where you clearly state why customers should buy from you. Do you offer the lowest prices? Biggest selection? Exceptional customer service?
5. Be plausible and accurate
Don’t overstate your advantages and ambitions, or your commitment may be unachievable and damage your credibility inside and outside the company. Make promises and commitments only if you’re sure they can be kept.
6. Be unique and distinctive
Your mission statement should be so attuned to your company’s goals, direction and culture that anyone reading it would instantly know it’s about your company.
7. Look to the company’s future
This can be the most inspiring, unifying, and challenging part of the mission statement. It should be specific enough to apply to the company’s current status, but open enough to let it pursue an expanded, even visionary, future.
10 motivational mission statement examples
Let’s get inspired by reading the mission statements of some of the world’s leading companies. We’ll break down how they answer the “how,” “what,” and “why” about their companies, and look closely at the language they use. Note that every company covers the key topics, but often in creative and unique ways.
“To bring to the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
What does it do? Brings the best user experience to its customers.
How does it do it? Through innovation in all of its products and services.
Why does it do it? Apple answers that question with a bold, inspiring vision statement: “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.”
Apple’s language is clear, specific, bold, and aspirational, which shows a desire to achieve a high level of success.
“To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”
What does it do? Creates the most compelling car of this century.
How does it do it? By driving the world’s transition to electric cars and trucks.
Why does it do it? Like Apple, Tesla answers with a powerful vision statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla’s language is clear, specific, bold, aspirational and clever, using appropriate automotive puns like driving and accelerate to make its point.
“We’re in business to save our home planet.”
Patagonia is actively involved in environmental issues, so it makes sense to use its mission statement to answer why it’s in business. It goes on to answer "what" and "how" via the corporate values shared on its mission statement page:
Build the best product
Cause no unnecessary harm
Use business to protect nature
Not bound by convention
Patagonia’s language is clear, specific, bold, aspirational, and full of commitment.
“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.”
What does it do? Offers a range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products.
How does it do it? They’re products are well designed and priced low.
Why does it do it? To enable as many people as possible to afford them.
It supports its mission statement with a short vision statement: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
Ikea’s language is clear, specific, concise and inclusive—“as many people as possible.”
TED, which is taken from “technology, education, and design,” is a nonprofit organization that offers a variety of educational content. They’re best known for offering short (18 minutes or less) presentations by experts, so it’s fitting that their mission statement is two powerful words and that nails down what they do.
How they do it can be found on TED’s website in the form of the many activities with which they spread ideas on the web and around the world, along with a sentence that describes the why:
“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.”
TED’s language is simple, idealistic, inspirational, and inclusive.
“We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.”
This answers the “what” and “how” of this groundbreaking global organization in just 18 words. Its vision statement is longer and sets its course for the future while staying in sync with its mission statement:
“To be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Amazon’s language is stunning in its brevity, clarity and power. Inclusive and aspirational, it’s plausible given Amazon’s unique impact on the marketplace.
“Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
That certainly answers the “what we do” question.
And its vision statement answers the how: by providing “an important service to the world—instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.”
And last year, Google’s leader amended the mission statement by answering the “why”: “to allow people “to get things done!”
This indicates that Google’s leadership is always analyzing and soul-searching to ensure the company’s mission and vision is up to date and accurate.
Google’s language is bold, aspirational, inclusive, clear and as specific as it can be given the magnitude of its ambitions.
8. Warby Parker
“Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”
What does it do? Offer designer eyewear.
How does it do it? At a substantially lower price, while blazing a path for socially conscious businesses.
On Warby Parker’s website, it backs up the socially conscious point by committing to give a pair of its glasses to someone in need for every pair that it sells.
It answers the “why we do it” with this vision statement: “We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket. We also believe that everyone has the right to see.”
Warby Parker’s language is clear, specific, inclusive, aspirational and inspirational.
“To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.”
Spotify takes a different approach in its mission statement, leading off by answering why it does what it does with a lofty goal: “To unlock the potential of human creativity …”
It skips over stating exactly that it provides an online service for digitally streaming music and podcasts. Instead, it goes right to how it does that by defining its two intertwined customer audiences—musicians and fans:
How Spotify gives artists a new way to live off their art
How Spotify gives fans the chance to enjoy and be inspired by their art.
Spotify’s language is clear, specific, energetic and inspiring.
“Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.”
What does it do: Provide transportation for everyone.
How does it do it: By being available and reliable globally.
Okay, it’s not as specific as many mission statements, but Uber enjoys that rare degree of popularity (like Kleenex and Band-Aid) that makes its name synonymous with what it does.
Uber’s vision statement adds a little more focus to what the company does: “We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.” According to Uber’s website, those opportunities range from jobs for drivers to rides leading to new experiences for passengers around the world.
We hope these guidelines and great mission statement examples provide guidance and inspiration to you when you’re asked to help a client create mission statements for their businesses.
Too often, companies, especially smaller ones, regard mission statements as something nice to have, but not a solid contribution to the bottom line. Just remember, a good mission statement lays the foundation for a business and maps its course into the future. And that’s definitely worth the time and effort.