What's your opinion of mission statements? Do you use them or ignore them completely? Would you think differently if you saw what great brands do with mission statements?
I've updated this article and expanded the original eight examples to 27. Let me know what you think.
Mission Statements: Boring or Inspiring?
Generally, I find them boring beyond belief - so full of gobbledygook and hot air to be almost useless, and definitely boring, uninspiring, unintelligible...
(Check out The 9 Worst Mission Statements of All Time if you aren't convinced.)
And, yet, some mission statements surprise, delight, inspire and transform. They provide purpose. They guide and help unify organizations. They go hand-in-hand with the corporate culture. They also help guide a company's inbound marketing content strategy and business blogging.
I hadn't really thought much about mission statements until I read the first chapter of Denise Lee Yohn's book What Great Brands Do (see What Great Brands Do By Denise Lee Yohn).
There, she shares the example of IBM's Palmisano who inextricably links values with mission. This results in a close blending of the IBM mission with culture and values as well as into the fiber of the business and the essence of the IBM brand. No surprise that, at IBM, the mission is "used to inform business decisions and employee actions."
Since then, I've become curious about mission statements.
Just as I discovered in SEO Tips: Having Fun with Title Tags and Meta Descriptions, I'm finding that great brands waste no opportunity to share what they believe in. They consistently communicate what they are about. These aren't bland organizations. Rather these are businesses which practice what they preach and generate fierce loyalty internally from associates who believe fiercely in the mission and help define the culture.
These businesses consistently focus on customers and delivering remarkable experiences and they reflect that fierce consistency in their business blogs, in their customer interactions and in their mission statements.
27 Mission Statements to Get You Thinking
Discover for yourself with these 27 examples and let me know what you think. Eight* come from when I originally published this article in 2014; four are special requests and the rest include companies redefinining market segments and the customer experience.
5. Big Ass Fans
23. Trader Joe's*
24. Tuft and Needle
26. Warby Parker
*Included in the original article published in 2014.
For so long, people thought Airbnb was about renting houses. But really, we’re about home. You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere. That is the idea at the core of our company: belonging.
From the Amazon Fact sheet, "To be Earth's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.”
Amazon expands on this as follows:
"This goal continues today, but Amazon’s customers are worldwide now, and have grown to include millions of Consumers, Sellers, Content Creators, and Developers & Enterprises. Each of these groups has different needs, and we always work to meet those needs, innovating new solutions to make things easier, faster, better, and more cost-effective."
And these are the Amazon leadership principles:
- Customer Obsession
- Invent and Simplify
- Are Right, A Lot
- Learn and Be Curious
- Hire and Develop the Best
- Insist on the Highest Standards
- Think Big
- Bias for Action
- Earn Trust
- Dive Deep
- Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
- Deliver Results
Apple's mission statement seems surprisingly dull and uninspiring.
"Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad."
Learn About Apple's Mission Statement? suggests that this statement which Tim Cook shares with new employees does a better job capturing what the company's mission is:
"Apple has always been different. A different kind of company with a different view of the world. It's a special place where we have the opportunity to create the best products on earth - products that change lives and help shape the future. It's a privilege we hold dear."
Betterment describes its mission based on you-the customer-coming first:
We have one mission: To empower you to make the most of your money, so you can live better.
The company's mission page describes how it solves the old broken way of managing money using technology and proven investment strategies.
Well, I couldn't locate a Big Ass Fans mission statement per se, however, the following gives you a good sense of the character and passion behind the company:
Big Ass Solutions designs, engineers, builds and sells industry leading products direct to our customers. We never compromise quality or service.
...And we’ve backed everything with serious research, intensive engineering, and an almost obsessive drive to innovate and improve. No matter what we’re doing, we go Big Ass every single day, and we’re not stopping.
Not to mention the sense of humor...
Perhaps the best way to describe Casper's mission is:
Great sleep, made simple
Even the items Casper products ship with address how to sleep better.
Chipotle's About Us page refers to "The Business of Good Food."
In 2014, that page detailed the following:
"...Our focus has always been on using higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques to make great food accessible to all people at reasonable prices. But our vision has evolved. While using a variety of fresh ingredients remains the foundation of our menu, we believe that "fresh is not enough, anymore." Now we want to know the sources for all of our ingredients, so that we can be sure they are as flavorful as possible while we are mindful of the environmental and societal impact of our business. We call this idea, Food With Integrity, and it guides how we run our business."
It now details the Chipotle mission as follows:
"Over 23 years later, our devotion to seeking out the very best ingredients we can--raised with respect for animals, farmers, and the environment--remains at the core of our commitment to Food With Integrity. And as we've grown, our mission has expanded to ensuring that better food is accessible to everyone."
And "Food With Integrity" remains a critical component.
I couldn't locate a mission statement on Delta's site. However, on Chegg Study, I found the following:
“We—Delta’s employees, customers, and community partners together form a force for positive local and global change, dedicated to bettering standards of living and the environment where we and our customers live and work.”
9. Disney's Mission
Here is how the Disney Company describes its mission:
The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.
No mission statement, however a powerful statement of being described as "The Heart and Soul of Drybar" that a video brings to life to describe the 10 Core Values & Beliefs of the company which consist of:
According to Facebook Investor Relations, the company's mission statement is,
Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
12. Google's Mission Statement
When this article originally published in 2014, you could immediately locate the Google mission and company philosophy on the 'about us' page.
"Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful."
The company philosophy listed the following 10 values that Google holds to be true:
- Focus on the user and all else will follow.
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- You can make money without doing evil.
- There’s always more information out there.
- The need for information crosses all borders.
- You can be serious without a suit.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
The current About Us Google page captures that mission visually.
Meditation app Headspace describes its mission as follows:
Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world.
I personally use Headspace and feel that it has improved my health and happiness.
I'm a big admirer of HubSpot, but had never paid much attention to their mission statement. I'm immersed in their culture - thanks to the many talented and passionate HubSpotters I interact with daily - and am delighted at how closely their mission statement and culture code maps out to what I have experienced:
"To make the world Inbound. We want to transform how organizations attract, engage and delight their customers."
The HubSpot culture code includes the following ten points:
1. We are as maniacal about our metrics as our mission.
2. We obsess over customers, not competitors.
3. We are radically and uncomfortably transparent.
4. We give ourselves the autonomy to be awesome.
5. We are unreasonably selective about our peers.
6. We invest in individual mastery and market value.
7. We defy conventional “wisdom” as it’s often unwise.
8. We speak the truth and face the facts.
9. We believe in work+life, not work vs. life.
10. We are a perpetual work in progress.
IKEA refers to its vision and business idea as follows:
At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
"Our mission is to reconnect people through transportation and bring communities together."
I'm more familiar with Uber than Lyft; given the other company's recent issues, I find the Lyft mission intensely human.
Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
When it comes to Nordstrom, the mission - no surprise given its reputation - is about remarkable customer service.
"In store or online, wherever new opportunities arise—Nordstrom works relentlessly to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible. The one constant? John W. Nordstrom's founding philosophy: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value."
When I updated this page on 8/14/17, the Nordstrom About Us page included this powerful statement:
"Fashion changes. Shopping changes. Our commitment to happy customers doesn't."
That has since been updated with the following:
"An incredible eye for what's next in fashion. A passionate drive to exceed expectations. For more than 100 years, we've worked to deliver the best possible shopping experience, helping our customers express their style—not just buy fashion.
Nordstrom, Inc. is a leading fashion specialty retailer offering compelling clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. Since 1901, we've been committed to providing our customers with the best possible service—and to improving it every day."
19. Southwest Airlines
About Southwest describes that,
The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.
The company follows that immediately with a commitment to its employees:
We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.
Squarespace which enables beautiful, easy-to-manage websites says that,
Squarespace makes beautiful products to help people with creative ideas succeed.
The company's values include:
Being their own customer - their site is built on Squarespace.
Design not being a luxury
Permission to only release products when they meet Squarespace's standards
Optimizing toward ideals. "Our values and ideals are our decision making guide."
And, my favorite, simplifying.
21. Starbucks Mission and Values
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
And its values include,
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.
The mission of Tesla is about sustainable transportation:
Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.
Mattress company Tuft and Needle says,
We believe in quality craftsmanship without the gimmicks. We work with the best to get the best. And then we sell the best, for exactly the price it should cost. It's the very simple system at the heart of everything we make.
We support American manufacturing. All of our mattresses are designed and crafted in the U.S.A.
About.com for the Retail Industry described Trader Joe's mission as,
"The mission of Trader Joe's is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required to make informed buying decisions.
We provide these with a dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, fun, individual pride, and company spirit."
That reference is no longer available. However, you can find it in the Trader Joe's timeline.
For more detail, read Trader Joe's story for what matters:
"...And that’s important, because “Value” is a concept we take very seriously. And by ‘Value,’ we mean great everyday prices on all of our great products — no sales, no gimmicks, no clubs to join, no special cards to swipe... How do we do it?
It’s not complicated. We just focus on what matters — great food + great prices = Value."
"Our mission statement is simple, yet the foundation of everything we do here at Virgin Atlantic Airways... to embrace the human spirit and let it fly."
This hasn't changed, despite its new ownership.
26. Warby Parker's Mission
Warby Parker's history starts with this statement: "Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses."
It then further details that,
We started Warby Parker to create an alternative.
By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, we’re able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.
We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.
We also believe that everyone has the right to see.
The mission statement of Zappos.com, also referred to by Zappos employees as their "WOW Philosophy," is... "To provide the best customer service possible."
This goes hand-in-hand with the Zappos Family Core Values to which everyone in the company contributes on a yearly basis:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
More Great Brand Mission Statement Inspiration
Richard Branson on "Crafting Your Mission Statement" (sadly, the link is no longer available) shared the following brilliance,
"Brevity is certainly key, so try using Twitter's 140-character template when you're drafting your inspirational message. You need to explain your company's purpose and outline expectations for internal and external clients alike. Make it unique to your company, make it memorable, keep it real and, just for fun, imagine it on the bottom of a coat of arms."
If you need advice on creating your own mission statement, check out How to Write a Fluff-Free Mission Statement, as well as The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love.
Mission Statements to Add to this List?
What's your reaction to these mission statements?
Which companies would you add to the list? How's your mission or statement of business purpose? What other content does it affect and how?
Note: This article was originally published on 5/1/2014. It was updated on 8/14/2017 and has now been further expanded to include more examples.