You've probably heard about belief (or purpose), mission and vision, but you might not be that clear on:
a: How to come up with these statements
b: How to put the statements to work in your business
This blog will focus on point b—how to elevate your belief, mission and vision beyond cursory wording on your “about us” page and turn them into rallying cries for your business, inspiring your teams and paving the path to business success.
Hat tip to Tim Ferris and Chip Wilson (founder of lululemon) for one of the best everyday business podcasts I have ever listened to. When we get to ‘vision’ it was Chip’s words that really resonated with me.
For advice on point a—check our brand storytelling course that covers everything you need to know about developing a belief, mission and vision.
The brand belief statement
Your belief is why you do what you do.
In my view, this is the most important statement to get nailed. At STANCE we use exercises such as Wakey Wakey and Judgement Day to tease this information out of founders.
How to use your belief
Use your belief to attract the right people including employees and customers. Your belief should seep through your messaging and sales pitches, igniting passion in your desired audience. I like to suggest that when you’re talking at TED, your belief would be among the first things you say.
Use your belief to uphold your product or service standards! For example, if you’re a recycling company and believe, “The green way is always the better way” you need to ensure that your company delivers sustainability through all its actions, all the time.
Don’t do a Volkswagen and make environmental claims while cheating emissions detectors.
Use your belief (and values) to litmus test partners. Let’s say you’re an athlete looking to partner with an energy drink… You might choose between Red Bull or Monster—these brands, while similar products, are different beasts. Choose the one most closely aligned to your belief and values.
The brand mission statement
Your mission statement is an objective set of words that describes the company’s immediate goal, product experience or service standard. Mission statements are in the here and now, compared with vision statements, which are about the future.
How to use your mission statement
If you have a highly objective or numerical mission statement, it should be straightforward to work that into your business strategy.
If you want to enroll 1000 students into your online course, you’ll be able to do the maths against your CPA and increase your ad spend to deliver on that mission.
In terms of a service-based mission, STANCE has recently completed a statement for a SMS marketing company that goes:
Our mission: To make your customers like you a little more every time they talk to you.
Digging into the ‘like you a little more’ component, you can see that this is the kind of mission that you can measure with a net promoter score.
In order to grow that net promoter score, you need to hire the right people and coach them towards delivering really enjoyable SMSs.
If you’re an exercise company that wants to make exercise ‘addictive’, you’ll need to ensure that your product allows metric tracking, competition, leaderboards and encouragement. If your company has none of these things, they’ll need to be added to the product roadmap.
The brand 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.
How to use your vision statement
If you want your vision statement to have a meaningful impact, it should be something that can actually happen. If you’re Elon Musk and want to live on Mars, you need to work out how to reduce the cost of getting there… Hence you start by developing reusable rockets.
Work backwards from a 10 year vision
You’ll know you have a good vision when it sounds both aspirational and attainable. You should be able to get there in 10 years. If you can’t get there in 10 years, it’s probably not a helpful vision statement.
If that is the 10 year vision, what is the 5 year vision?
If you have a 5 year vision, what is the 3 year vision?
If you have a 3 year vision, what is the 1 year vision?
This is the framework proposed by Chip Wilson in the Tim Ferris podcast, and it makes total sense.
Having 1, 3 or 5 year goals gives your company direction. It also means that you can track performance towards your visionary goals.
Let’s say you have a clothing brand and want to switch towards having a product line made complete from ocean plastics by 2030.
Year 1 might be about redesigning your most suitable products with ‘off the shelf’ ocean plastic fibres.
Year 3 might be about bringing the ocean plastic production capabilities in-house.
Year 5 might be about have 50% of all products produced from ocean plastics
Year 10 and the transition is complete. During this time, the product line may well have changed, based on the economics, limitations and opportunities of working with ocean plastics.
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