November 03, 2023

How To Write a Great Mission Statement
(+ 50 examples)

Animated GIF featuring the title of the article: How to Write a Mission Statement That Doesn't Suck

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How would you grade your mission statement?

Be honest.

The reality is that most employees can’t remember their company’s mission statement. This doesn’t mean that the idea behind a mission statement is flawed – far from it, but it does mean that most people get them wrong… dead wrong. ☠️

In this post, we’re going to dive into what makes a great mission statement and why it’s imperative to get it right. We’ve also included 50 examples of awesome mission statements as a source of inspiration while you work on perfecting yours.

Ready? Here we go…

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is an organization’s reason for being – its purpose. It answers the question, “Why do we exist?”. If you fast-forward the clock 100 years, your mission statement should be unchanged and still relevant.

Your mission statement should be able to finish this sentence:

We exist to [your mission statement].

Here’s an example from Airbnb:

We exist to [help create a world where you can belong anywhere].

Think of this statement as Airbnb’s “north star.” It’s the ‘why’ behind what they do as a team and company. All activities across the entire organization should align with their mission.

If your mission statement doesn’t align across the org, then something’s off (either the mission or the activities of the organization). Alignment between mission and daily activities is absolutely essential for forward progress and long-term success.

What’s the Difference Between a Mission Statement and a Vision?

These two are often confused, so it’s worth spending a second on it.

If your mission statement answers the question, “Why do we exist?” then your vision answers the question, “Where are we going?”

Mission statements are directional, but they’re never fully achieved.

The company’s vision, on the other hand, provides clear direction toward a desired outcome. It describes where you want to be in 3, 5, 10, or even 20 years into the future.

And it’s always in full alignment with the mission statement. The mission is the north star, and the vision is the points along the way.

If you want to learn more about creating a company vision, I wrote about it here.

How to Write a Mission Statement

Now that you have a better understanding of what a mission statement is and why it’s crucial for your business, I’m going to show you how to write a great one in two simple steps.

Step 1. Nail the Formula

When you’re creating a mission statement, think of it like a formula:

Mission statement = Benefit + Delivery

  1. Benefit: What’s the benefit your business is providing to the world?
  2. Deliver: How will you deliver that benefit?

When you combine both benefit and delivery, it results in a single sentence that explains why you exist as an organization.

Take Google, for example…

Graphic that illustrates Google's mission statement fitting the mission= delivery + benefit formula. "To organize the world's information (delivery) and make it universally accessible and useful. (benefit)

Google has a ton of products and services, yet they only need 12 words to drive home their mission. One impactful sentence that explains why they exist as an organization.

Step 2. Nail the Format

Your mission statement should be memorable, repeatable, and inspirational. So, we want to eliminate anything that comes off as vague, wordy, or too corporate.

Think: T-shirt worthy.

It’s badass enough to put on the front of a t-shirt.

To bring this point home, here are three examples of what NOT to do:

Flawed Mission Statement Example 1:

To make a positive impact in the world.

This mission statement example is an admirable goal, but it’s way too vague and tells us nothing about how they plan to deliver this benefit.

Flawed Mission Statement Example 2:

To be the #1 company in our market.

This example is flawed because it’s more of a vision than a mission statement. It’s missing the benefit piece of the equation, resulting in an uninspired phrase (that’s definitely not t-shirt-worthy). Second, it’s missing the delivery piece (the “how”), leaving consumers confused about what your mission actually is.

Flawed Mission Statement Example 3:

“To create a shopping experience that pleases our customers; a workplace that creates opportunities and a great working environment for our associates; and a business that achieves financial success.”

Man, where to even start with this one? First off, it’s way too long. No one will ever remember this rambling sentence, making it not t-shirt-worthy.

Now, to check in with our formula: The benefit is pretty weak and limiting (“pleases our customers” and “great working environment”). And this mission mixes a customer-facing delivery (“creating a shopping experience”) with an employee-facing delivery (“a great working environment”). Overall, it’s way too complex for anyone to remember or care about.

P.S. This one is the food store chain, Albertson’s mission statement 🤯

_______________

Hopefully by now you can see that creating a rock solid mission statement is absolutely doable if you follow these two steps:

  1. Nail the formula: Mission = Benefit + Delivery
  2. Nail the format: Make it t-shirt worthy

If you already have a mission statement, that’s ok. Take this information to stress test what you already have. It’s never a bad idea to refine and allow your mission statement to mature with your company.

Do you still need a little inspiration to get started?

I’ve collected a ton of kickass mission statements from top brands across many industries to help get you started!

50 Great Mission Statement Examples:

1. Adobe: To change the world through digital experiences.
2. Airbnb: To help create a world where you can belong anywhere.
3. Amazon: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company.
4. American Cancer Society: To save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.
5. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: To help all people lead healthy, productive lives.
6. BMW: To provide premium products and premium services for individual mobility.
7. Boeing: To connect, protect, explore and inspire the world through aerospace innovation.
8. BP: To provide the energy that powers economic growth and improves lives around the world.
9. Coca-Cola: To inspire moments of optimism and happiness.
10. Coursera: We envision a world where anyone, anywhere can transform their lives through learning
11. Dove: To make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety.
12. Dropbox: To simplify the way people work together.
13. Duolingo: To develop the best education in the world and make it universally available.
14. Etsy: To keep commerce human.
15. Facebook: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
16. Ford: To drive human progress through freedom of movement.
17. Gofundme: To help people help others.
18. Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.
19. ING: Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.
20. Instagram: To capture and share the world’s moments.
21. Khan Academy: To provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.
22. Kickstarter: To help bring creative projects to life.
23. LEGO: To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.
24. LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
25. Microsoft: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
26. NASA: To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
27. National Geographic: To inspire people to care about the planet.
28. Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
29. Oracle: To help people see data in new ways, discover insights, unlock endless possibilities.
30. Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
31. PepsiCo: To create more smiles with every sip and every bite.
32. Pinterest: To bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love.
33. Red Bull: To give wings to people and ideas.
34. Reddit: To create the most open and interesting platform for all forms of human expression.
35. Salesforce: To build bridges between companies and customers.
36. Slack: to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant and more productive.
37. SpaceX: To revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
38. Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
39. TED Talks: To make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.
40. Tesla: Accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
41. The Nature Conservancy: To conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.
42. The Red Cross: prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
43. The Walt Disney Company: To entertain, inform, and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling.
44. TOMS: To make like more comfortable.
45. TripAdvisor: To help people around the world plan and have the perfect trip.
46. Twitter: To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.
47. UNICEF: Ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children
48. Vimeo: To empower creators with the tools they need to share their stories.
49. Whole Foods: To nourish people and the planet.
50. Zoom: Make communications frictionless.

How I can help you… 

Are you a founder, executive, manager? I’d love to support your professional growth. 

Here’s three ways: 

  1. Connect on LinkedIn and Instagram – where I post practical tips about leadership and startups every day.
  1. Subscribe to my free newsletter – where I go deep on a variety of management and operations topics that will make you a better leader & operator. 
  2. Join Highland – my executive coaching program for founders, where we help you become a top-tier CEO that can scale into the tens of millions & beyond.

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