At the heart of brand strategy lies the vision, mission and values. These are the core deliverables of the brand strategist, and something that the client CEO will present eagerly to the business during all hands and annual conferences.

But if that’s as far as it goes, the vision, the mission, and certainly the Values, won’t achieve much. Because they are missing a vital ingredient: A belief.

Read on to see why that matters.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement is an objective set of words that describes the company’s goal, which might be short, medium or long term. It can be functional, numeric or emotional, depending on your business and also it’s contrast with the vision.

Here’s a STANCE mission statement created for Runway East, a co-working space with a passion for being helpful:

To provide second-to-none service with a hearty helping of surprise and delight

Here’s an example of a numerical mission statement from a food recycling company:

To half household food waste by 2030

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement describes the way you want to see the world if you successfully deliver your mission, month on month, year on year.

Here’s the STANCE vision statement for Runway East:

We see a world where every day at work is a celebration

In this case, the Runway East vision has the more snazzy wording.

When I explain the difference between these concepts to CEOs, I often use a military analogy.

The mission is to take control of that city over there. The vision is to establish peace in the region.

I like this example as it presents the mission as something that could have a metric— something that is obtainable. The vision, while also possible, would be the outcome of several successfully delivered missions.

To stay on brief, I like to start writing missions using the phrase, “We see a world where…"

We see a world where there is peace in Val Verde*

What about a brand belief?

In my book, the belief shapes both the mission and the vision. Let’s look at Runway East again as a whole stack, with the belief at the top:

We believe business booms when you start with culture

Our mission is to deliver second-to-none service with a hearty helping of surprise and delight

We see a world where every day at work is a celebration

Both the mission and vision are more powerful as a result of the belief.

Your belief is why you do what you do. It’s why Audi places more value on engineering than Ford, it’s why Swiss chocolate has around 30% more cocoa than US chocolate and it’s why some banks have next-to-no waiting time to speak to a representative.

In the case of Runway East, we uncovered their belief in the midst of a STANCE workshop. You can watch a bit of that workshop here. It was David, the COO who said,

“It’s hard for a business of 3 people to create a strong culture, but what we see at Runway East is that once businesses are big enough to have their own space, the thing they take with them is a sense of what a good culture looks like. They get that from us.”

The most important part of this statement is that it’s true!

Runway East is truly helpful. They don’t try to catch businesses out with hidden fees. They let you borrow a dog (if you desire) and play games like ‘find the golden ticket’.

From the truth comes a belief, a mission that you can measure your employees on, and a vision that feels authentic.

How do vision and mission relate to brand positioning?

Some brand strategists might refer to the process of coming up with a belief, mission and vision as “brand positioning”. I prefer to consider the belief, mission and vision as business drivers and the brand positioning as a rational statement of literally ‘where the company positioned is amongst the competition’.

The most exciting brand projects are when the company has not yet arrived at its desired space in the market. The belief, mission and Values can provide the direction of travel to own that space. If you’d like to learn more about brand positioning, try our course, Essential Brand Positioning for Start-Ups.

The missing brand ingredient

Well, the missing ingredient from mission and vision is a belief. But, the missing item from this blog is values!

I don’t see values as a cheap strategic add on to a vision and mission. I see values as a separate work-stream to be delivered with HR. Values don’t belong on a wall as empty words. They should drive activities like hiring, performance awards, socials, charitable donations, sponsored activities, brand partnerships and much more.

At STANCE we scope values projects as separate from the core strategic branding workstream.

*Fun fact: Val Verde is a fictional country used by Hollywood writer and producer Steven E. de Souza when his stories require a South- or Central-American locale that will not cause legal or diplomatic problems. The location first appeared in his 1985 film Commando.

Did you like this blog? If so, share on Twitter above and check out these blogs on brand positioning:

The fundamentals of brand positioning and how it helps business ideation

Should you use brand positioning axes in your VC deck?

Brand storytelling courses