We visit a lot of websites, including those of our clients, their competitors, their clients – the list goes on. On those websites we see a lot of what most would call mission statements, and that’s good.
Marketing and business experts are almost unanimous in agreeing that mission statements are vital for progress and growth as a company. Thoughtful, effective mission statements communicate what you are, what you do and what your company values. Ideally, it should tell customers how you are different than your competitors.
But the mission statement isn’t just for your customers. Business and executive coach Glenn Smith says it should serve as a north star, guiding you and your team and helping you focus. When that mission becomes part of the company’s culture, it can promote employee engagement– and that equates to higher productivity, according to WebFX founder and Forbes contributor William Craig.
But to accomplish all that, a mission statement has to be effective.
And in our exploration of websites, we see a lot of great mission statements. And a lot that aren’t so great.
So, what distinguishes an effective, mission statement that a company can live by from a not-so-effective one?
Marketing experts largely agree on the following guidelines for great mission statements:
- Keep it short
- Be specific
- Avoid jargon
- State clearly what you do for customers
- State clearly why you do what you do
Entrepreneur and investor Tim Barry says a good mission statement serves as a useful reminder of core strategy and long-term goals, and he adds that one test of a good mission statement is: Could anyone tell, just by reading it, what kind of business you’re in?
By contrast, Barry says the biggest reason a mission statement fails is that it’s “just a collection of buzzwords and clichés that say nothing.” He refers readers to a mission-statement parody that exaggerates what he means, but only slightly:
“Our company’s mission is to reliably and efficiently engineer access to value-added and multimedia-based opportunities in parallel with our clients’ needs to interactively and synergistically revolutionize advantages for innovative and interdependent intellectual capital in order to continually facilitate diverse and inexpensive content.”
Compare that to these examples HubSpot provides of mission statements that work:
- sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
- Honest Tea: To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
- Nordstrom: To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible.
Those are words customers can understand and employees can live by.