What's the difference between mission, vision & values?

January 16, 2018

Mission and vision can be a little confusing. What's the difference? How do they fit together? Why do you need both? What's the point of one versus the other? Do you have to have a separate mission statement and separate vision statement? They're actually not that complicated. And, thanks to the guys over at Brand Extract I have a very simple example to help you remember what each one is and how they differ from one another.Let's jump right in. A vision statement describes where you are going. In other words, what you're trying to do. So, for example, "I'm going to climb to the top of a mountain." That’s the vision statement. It’s plain and simple, it’s straight in front of you. You can see it. “I’m going to climb to the top of a mountain.”

A mission statement says why you are going to do that thing. Why are you going to climb to the top of a mountain? I'm climbing to the top of the mountain so that I can see a sunset. The mission is the why. It's the motivation behind the thing you're doing. 

Your values portray how you're going to act as you carry out your vision and mission. I'm going to climb to the top of a mountain so I can see a sunset. How are you going to do it? I'm going to do it safely. I'm going to do it with intention and enjoy nature and I'm going to encourage and help other climbers along the way.

  • Vision statement: “Climb to the top of a mountain”
  • Mission statement: “So I can see a sunset”
  • Values: safety, intentionality, kindness and helpfulness

Another thing that is important to point out is that a mission statement and a vision statement don't have to be two separate things. When they are clearly articulated and well-crafted, they actually can fit together into one statement that covers both. Values can be included if possible, but they don’t have to be. It’s more important to communicate values within an organization. The core values of an organization should be actively informing and shaping the decisions and actions of the employees and leadership every single day in everything they do.

Here at Seed Designs we have one statement that covers both our vision and mission. 

Help businesses increase their reach and influence through unique and expressive brand development.

When crafting a mission statement it should communicate just enough about the company to tell what you do but not so much that it overwhelms someone when they read it or hear it. Ideally, it would be written in a way that intrigues a potential client or target audience so that it makes them want to ask questions and learn more about what you do.

When I share our mission statement with people the most common response I get is questions. Usually it’s questions like this:

  • What exactly is brand development?
  • What do you mean “expressive”?
  • We want our brand to be recognizable and desirable, can you help us?

Every time this happens I have an opportunity to engage in a conversation with someone who is genuinely interested in what we do. Every time it gives me a chance to tell them how we can meet their needs and help grow their business. Every time it gives me a chance to highlight our expertise.

Your vision is what you want to do, your mission is why you want to do it and your values depict how you're going to act as you accomplish your vision and mission. 

We have four core values at Seed Designs: playfulness, adventure, curiosity, optimism.

Besides guiding your actions and decisions, core values can also play another important role. At Seed Designs we use our core values as a way to vet potential clients. For example, if we meet a potential client that isn’t playful at all, that is very serious and not adventurous or curious we may choose not to work with them. If they're not willing to think outside the box or look at new ways of doing things; if they’re not willing to try new approaches or let us experiment, then they may not be a good fit for us. And if we really think it’s not a good fit, we’ll choose to not work with someone based on those core values. That can save a lot of frustration and headache. Not only for us, but also for the client because in the end, it’s not going to be a good atmosphere for collaboration.

What about you?

Ask yourself: can you repeat your mission and vision statement off the top of your head right now? Do you know what your core values are? Can you can you say them out loud right now if I ask you? And, just as important, can all of your employees recite your mission statement and core values? Do they know those things? Even if you’ve written them down, you’ve put them on your website or in a manifesto, but no one knows them, that's not helpful. 

And if you haven’t identified your core values and you haven’t taken the time to articulate your vision and mission, then reach out to us. We would love to help you craft those. We’ll lead you through a process that we use. It’s pretty straightforward, just requires a little bit of time and intentionality.

Have a great week!

Chris Fikes

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