Kampala, Uganda – As we enter a new year, we can embrace opportunities for new beginnings. We can release our old habits and struggles, transforming them into new hopes, dreams, and opportunities for growth, in both our personal and professional lives.
This is true for our companies as well. The start of a new year provides a wonderful opportunity to revisit our company’s vision and mission statements—or to create them for the first time.
Establishing a vision and mission for your company is vital to its success. As Theodore Hesburgh, a former president of the University of Notre Dame said, “The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
But how do you accomplish this? How grand should your vision be? Is it even a good investment of your employees’ efforts? And how does this help your promotional efforts? Today, I’ll explore aspects of developing vision and mission statements.
Vision vs. Mission Statements
To begin, let’s explore the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement.
A vision statement communicates the improved future that we hope to create within our global community. Vision statements bring value to our employee’s work, helping them to recognize their efforts as being a valuable part of humankind.
One example of a strong vision statement is from PepsiCo:
“PepsiCo’s responsibility is to continually improve all aspects of the world in which we operate—environment, social, economic—creating a better tomorrow than today.”
Imagine that you are a Pepsi employee. Wouldn’t it feel good to go to work every day with the goal of contributing to the world in this way? Vision statements are inspirational, adding purpose to our work and motivating us to do our part to make the world a better place.
A mission statement applies the vision to the company’s present action and situation. It communicates the reason that the company exists in society, identifying the organization’s essence and the difference it makes in the world. Mission statements should identify the purpose of the organization in a way that inspires employees and other stakeholders.
Again, let’s look to PepsiCo for an example of a strong mission statement:
“Our mission is to be the world’s premier consumer products company focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce financial rewards to investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employees, our business partners and the communities in which we operate. And in everything we do, we strive for honesty, fairness and integrity.”
You see, in the mission statement, PepsiCo explains how they, today, improve the environment, economy, and societies in which they operate—by using the sales of their foods and beverages to generate profits for investors and enrichment opportunities for employees, partners, and communities. This motivates employees by helping them to understand how they help to create the company’s vision of the future.
A word of caution: Though PepsiCo provides some strong examples of vision and mission statements, many companies—including global leaders—confuse these elements. The key is to remember that vision statements are about the future you want to create, and the mission statement is how you operate now to make that vision become reality.
How Big Should You Dream?
Some people believe that your vision and mission statements should be realistic—that you shouldn’t make your dreams too large. After all, they say, isn’t it better to focus on something small and succeed, than to focus on something large and fail?
Throughout history, companies have proven that it’s okay to dream big. Consider, for example, the Ford Motor Company. In the early 1900s—when the automobile was just emerging—Henry Ford declared that “Ford will democratize the automobile.” At this time, only the very wealthy could afford cars; how could he possibly make this claim?
Well, following this vision of automobiles for the general population, Ford introduced large-scale auto manufacturing and workforce efficiencies like assembly lines. This decreased the cost of manufacturing automobiles, reducing the cost to the public. It also changed the way that manufacturers have done business ever since. Ford’s vision inspired innovation that established best practices for manufacturing and improved accessibility and affordability of products to people worldwide.
So go ahead. Dream big. Find the vision of the world you want to create, and the role that your company will play in creating this new world. The people and organizations who boldly dream—and follow those dreams—are the ones who make the world a better place.
The Promotional Value of Vision and Mission Statements
Vision and mission statements are important pieces of your promotional program. Here are a few of the benefits of defining your vision and mission:
Clarifying Your Purpose. To be successful in your business, your stakeholders—clients, partners, investors, employees, and others—need to understand why you exist and what you want to accomplish. When you share your vision of a better world, and the role that your company will take in creating it, your stakeholders can quickly understand your company’s purpose.
Inspiring Your Stakeholders. A psychological theory called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs teaches us that humans have a deep desire to self-actualize—to step beyond the need to maintain our physical and emotional security and discover a greater purpose for life. When companies help people to accomplish this—both by helping them to fulfill their basic needs and to contribute towards a greater good—we help to advance society.
Humanizing Our Brand. This process also helps to create brand loyalty by humanizing our brand—adding a personal element to the company. A couple of issues ago, I shared the results of a recent study that showed that 94% of global consumers believe that companies should be giving back to the communities they serve. Establishing a vision and mission statement helps to identify the role that the company will play in accomplishing this.
Anchor Our Promotional Efforts. We can use mission and vision statements to focus our marketing messages, our community outreach program, and other initiatives, which helps us to create a stronger brand identity.
This week, work with your teams to create—or reevaluate—your vision and mission statements. Next week, we’ll explore some ways you can help to accomplish them.
Hope Wilson, CPSM, is president of Wilson Business Growth Consultants, a firm that provides international business strategy and communications services. Specializing in infrastructure development, Hope has received 12 international awards for her work. Have a question about marketing? Email: [email protected]