Enshrined on corporate walls, and emblazoned on business plans, visions and missions are all about the best of business intentions. The truth is these carefully crafted and painstakingly assembled words serve a purpose far beyond the offices they etch and the documents they grace – a business vision and mission is the very foundation of any branding story you choose to tell.
Importantly the branding story doesn’t stop at vision and mission, it extends beyond the what and the how to encompass the why.
Here’s an insight into vision and mission, the difference between them and how they influence and interact with the brand foundations that shape your marketing plan.
Vision – The What
When we talk about a business vision, we are considering the grandest of plans. These are the dreams a business wishes to espouse, the future they hope to attain.
In many ways the vision is the big picture of any branding entity. It’s not about where an organization is now, but rather what it seeks to become. And the what is critical; it covers what you do and what you stand for.
Critically a vision may speak to credentials beyond just the services on offer. It will reflect the way a business wishes meaning it may incorporate how an entity wishes to position itself environmentally, culturally and socially
Mission – The How
A business mission factors in where an enterprise is right here, right now and the way it offers its products or services as a result.
It is what the customer can expect to receive during a transaction with that business in the present. In many ways this makes it the HOW of the way a business operates.
Some Vision and Mission examples
A businesses’ vision and mission can be as short as simple sentences or as long as a paragraph and some of the world’s most recognised companies offer up great examples of the differences between each.
As the world’s most popular search engine, Google’s vision and mission speaks directly to their global focus on sorting and accessing information.
The Google vision: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click”
The Google mission: “To Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
As a company with a focus on sustainable energy, Tesla creates electric cars, solar panels and batteries that are all designed with an emphasis on renewable energy generation and storage.
The Tesla Vision: To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
The Tesla Mission: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Amazon currently ranks as the number one ecommerce site globally, but as witnessed in recent years, it has far greater ambitions in the retail realm. Its ambitions are reflected in its vision, it’s current capability in its mission
Amazon Vision: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Amazon Mission: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
Why they matter
Visions and Missions offer clarity to all sectors of the business realm. They allow staff to understand where an organisation is headed, they help guide decisions made on a company’s behalf and they indicate to a consumer what they can expect from an entity now and into the future.
That makes the business vision and mission key elements of any brand, and therefore invaluable tools in the ongoing strategy of branding.
So how are vision and mission used in branding?
Beyond vision and mission
Vision and mission do not stand on their own. They are the first two of what’s widely regarded as the five pillars of branding. Their value is then further enhanced through the influence they have on the remaining three elements of.
- Brand values
- Brand purpose
- Brand positioning
Just as vision is the what and mission is the how, the brand purpose is WHY your business does what it does. Also known as the brand story, it’s the guiding ethos that sees all your employees get out of bed each day.
And in a socially minded world that purpose is becoming increasingly important, as Y&R global chief executive David Sable recently reflected in The Drum.
“If your brand story does not authentically and meaningfully contribute to the well-being of society or the environment, your brand will not be viewed as important. In fact, the Meaningful Brand Index report found that 73% of all brands could disappear and consumers wouldn’t care.”
The brand purpose is cognisant of a business vision and mission, but also stands on its own, and in recent years many have argued it’s equally important for a company to document their purpose as it is to devise their vision and mission.
“Core purpose is the organization’s fundamental reason for being,” author and marketer Carla Johnson reflects.
“And effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work – it taps their idealistic motivations—and gets at the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond just making money.”
And she cites Unilever as an examples of the three elements at play:
- Purpose: To make sustainable living commonplace
- Vision: Double the size of the business, while reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact.
- Mission: We will work to create a better future every day. We will help people look good, feel good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and for others. We will inspire people to take small, everyday actions that can add up to a big difference for the world.
Brand values are about the standards your business sets and the things that you believe in. Often these will be reflected in what a business does more than what a business or its leader says.
These values are the principles that define how employees will conduct business as they pursue the vision and execute the mission.
For example, Amazon’s values are listed as follows:
- Customer Obsession. Leaders start with the customer and work backwards…
- Leaders are owners. …
- 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
Naturally these values speak to the business vision and mission. They clearly support them as a brief recipe for how Amazon meets its mission of offering consumers “the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience”.
They also offer a guide as to how Amazon will achieve its vision in the future of being “Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online”.
When we talk about brand positioning, we are getting to the nuts and bolts of how your offering meets your purpose and honours your vision and mission.
The key aim is to use that combined information to differentiate yourself from your competition.
In short, the brand position is its competitive edge – its distinction in the marketplace.
Let’s reverse back to Tesla for an insight into how the five pillars now fit together.
Case study: Tesla
Tesla vision: To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
Tesla mission: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Tesla purpose: “The overarching purpose of Tesla Motors is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.” Source: The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan
Tesla values: “Move fast. Do the impossible. Constantly innovate. We are ALL IN.” These are just four of the six Tesla core values.
Brand Position: “An electric car without compromises.”
Where to from here
These five pillars then go on to inform the look, feel and tone of every element of a company’s branding and marketing strategy.
They will be reflected in their logo, their tone and voice, and the messages they consistently convey about what a company is doing now, what it stands for and what it seeks to do in the future.
They form the basis of the brand story, the advertising, its PR and social media. And the better the foundations, the stronger the brand.
At Openseed we work with business to formulate the five pillars of branding. From the mission and vision to purpose, and position we get to the heart of the ethos that drives the businesses we work with.
We then harness its power through intuitive branding, websites and quality content strategies that reflect these pillars throughout all marketing strategies.
We get to the heart of your business message to help your business rank foremost on Google and at the front of your consumer’s mind. You can learn more about our services here or contact us directly to learn more about how we can help.