Initially, we titled this article “Vision vs. Mission” to clarify the difference between an organization’s mission to accomplish something and its vision to make an impact. The final title, as you may have already noticed, lost the word “versus.” Strategically, we want to demonstrate that while mission and vision are two different thoughts, they are by no means competing. One has a more in-depth focus than the other, but the two work in tandem.
It’s common for organizations to have different definitions for terms like Mission and Vision. Mission is confused with vision and vice versa. At HMG Creative, our Brand Strategy process brings clarity to the descriptions in a way that helps organizations identify their mission and vision.
Your Mission & Vision may not be written down, but they are alive and active somewhere within your organization.
Do you know your organization’s mission and vision? Perhaps it’s featured on a conference room wall or printed in a booklet. For many organizations, though, the idea isn’t yet concrete or solidified. The information about your brand’s purpose can found through a conversation with the founder, insight from an HR recruiter, or even the perspective of a top-performing customer service rep. Even still, whether the mission or vision are defined or not, every organization has them. These ideas are alive and active somewhere within your organization.
First, let’s talk mission. Mission Statements need to be focused on the organization’s relationship to customers, products/services, timelines, and logistics. Mission is defined by who you provide your “what” to (your core services/products), including how you do it and even when. It explains the ‘tasks at hand’ for your organization. Mission Statements are often defined before vision because they are the easiest to conceptualize. Unfortunately, many organizations only ever set a mission and leave out the vision – a critical mistake. Vision is equally as crucial in shaping an organization’s direction.
The Mission Statement is a well-defined course of action that focuses the team and brand loyalists on the tasks at hand to move closer to the vision. It’s the plan for how to reach your goals as you live out your core values. This statement tells your organization where to focus on for the short term. It’s important to remember that mission is not permanent; it can pivot. As an organization grows and evolves, so can its mission. Slight changes to mission statements are acceptable – and even expected – in today’s marketplace.
If mission describes the who, what, when, where and how of an organization, vision covers the missing piece: why. Thought Leader Simon Sinek famously identified the importance of a brand’s “why” in an industry-shaping Ted Talk a few years back. Sinek explained that “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.” A brand’s “why” is where the followers and fans are found. It’s where the employees’ happiness and motivation lies. The Vision can be the reason the market accepts your product or services.
A Vision Statement inspires the team, the fans, the followers. A vision statement is your inspiration. Maybe it’s a perception of something you would like to see changed or enhanced in the world. Regardless of method, leadership, ownership, or services, a brand’s vision never changes or pivots. Grand Vision Statements are written to survive even if the company who adopts it fails. A great Vision Statement will live on in your fans and followers forever.
The organization holds the Mission, fans, followers, and the world hold the Vision.
Let’s run through some examples to give you a better understanding of the differences between mission and vision, and how they work together.
Vision Statement: Adrenaline is like jet fuel for the human bloodstream; everyone should step out and experience it.
Mission Statement: Create fearless, adrenaline releasing experiences for all ages and blood types.
Vision Statement: Finding a pet should be like finding your soulmate because when you know, you know.
Mission Statement: Build an experience where people can quickly and efficiently meet potential pets of all different types and personalities.
(Speed Date Pet Adoptions)
Vision Statement: Mastering new useable skills should not take 20% of your life.
Mission Statement: Design a diverse set of programs that allows students to master real-world skills in 12-18 months.
(ICON Vocational School)
Mission and Vision, both integral parts of a brand’s identity, are just two pieces to the puzzle. At HMG Creative, our brand strategy process uncovers powerful insight about your brand, your goals, your plan of execution, and your vision to change the world. Through an in-depth brand discovery workshop and extensive market research, we synthesize the most important characteristics that define your brand and present it in a Brand Toolkit. These guidelines serve as the foundation for all external and internal communications. No brand should be without it.
Is your organization looking for a comprehensive Brand Strategy? We’d love to chat and help you identify your mission and vision.