mission statements

What 5 Global Businesses Get Right About Mission Statements

The most successful mission statements often have several key elements in common. Such statements are crafted to share, in brief, the short- and long-term plans of an organization. Mission statements have quickly turned into declarations that are inclusive, intentional and inspirational in nature. Customers respond positively to companies with mission statements that include these elements, so more and more businesses have made an effort to craft a clear, concise and inspirational vision and mission statement.

I’ve previously written about the dos and don’ts for crafting mission statements, so I’m familiar with the kinds of tones and language advisable for startups when it comes to creating their own. Many entrepreneurs take their cues from worldwide businesses, like these five major corporations:

  • Airbnb
  • IKEA
  • Southwest Airlines
  • TED
  • Whole Foods

These businesses have nailed the art of the mission statement. Let’s see what they get right about writing it, and how your startup can implement some of the tactics they’ve used.

Airbnb

Mission statement: We exist to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.

What makes this mission statement work?

The global hospitality marketplace Airbnb ensures that travelers all around the world may access unique homes and places to stay throughout their adventures. This mission statement thrives on the use of meaningful words to convey its purpose.

One such word, “belong,” does more heavy lifting than customers may realize. This simple word speaks to a consumer’s emotional needs, many of which are outlined in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. Feeling as though we belong fulfills our physiological, safety, esteem, self-actualization, and oh yes, belongness needs. Reading this mission statement would likely make you feel good about the business, even if you have never used Airbnb before. You’re going, and coming, home.

Bottom line: Make an emotional connection with your customer through your mission statement



IKEA

Mission statement: Create a better everyday life for the many people — for customers, but also for our co-workers and the people who work at our suppliers.

What makes this mission statement work?

I cheated a little with this one. This is actually IKEA’s vision statement, not mission statement.

What’s the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement? Vision statements seek what a business hopes to become, which is clearly evident with IKEA. Creating a better life is ongoing. It doesn’t stop today. Humans aspire to a better life at all stages of life. They learn, grow, change, and so does their accompanying lifestyle — directly for the better. A mission statement, on the other hand, states what a business is and what they have to offer today.

Bottom line: It’s just as important to tell your customers where you’re headed.

Southwest Airlines

Mission statement: Dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

What makes this mission statement work?

Southwest Airlines makes it a point to capitalize two phrases in its mission statement: Customer Service and Company Spirit. This is done purposefully, to highlight the company’s core purpose.

You’re not flying with an airline simply to fly. You’re choosing the brand because the company works to put the customer first in every possible way. This is a mission statement driven on motivation and a common end goal. Fly once with Southwest and their outstanding Customer Service, and become a frequent flyer for life.

Bottom line: If you’re known for something in particular (i.e. excellent customer service, outstanding communications), let your customers know it in your mission statement.

TED

Mission statement: Spread ideas.

What makes this mission statement work?

It’s short. So short! TED’s mission statement gets directly to the point. The conference organization famously thrives on sharing TED Talks, in which influential speakers share innovative, fresh ideas with eager audiences.

Some of the most successful mission statements tend to be the ones that are easy to remember and understand. This one does so in only two words.

Bottom line: There’s no need to be wordy when your actions speak for themselves.


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Whole Foods

Mission statement: Our purpose is to nourish people and the planet. We’re a purpose-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.

What makes this mission statement work?

Focus on one word in this mission statement with me: nourish. There could not be a better adjective to describe Whole Foods. The grocery chain could have chosen “feed,” or a number of other adjectives instead, but that would have muddled the message.

Instead, they chose “nourish.” It means reaching a specific kind of goal, in that the act of nourishing fills more than your stomach. It enriches your body, mind, and soul, making for a meaningful shopping experience.

Bottom line: Choose words that pack a punch and make a major impact.

The above businesses are great examples of companies with killer examples of mission statements. As you move forward with your own startup’s mission or vision statement, use the above tactics for inspiration.

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