Dave Foster is CEO of AvreaFoster, a brand and marketing agency that helps B2B companies use the power of their brand to grow business.

In the beginning—before your business became a business—it was an idea. You saw a need, had a vision for the change you wanted to see in the industry and made plans for how to drive that change. To some extent, a company’s origin story is captured in its vision, mission and values. These components combine to form the brand DNA, informing nearly every aspect of how the company goes to market—its tone of voice, brand experience, business strategy and even who it hires.

That’s not to say these elements don’t change. They do—evolving as the business evolves, just as the visual brand elements might to ensure the company maintains a relevant and credible position. So, whether your business is just beginning or is in its 50th year, it’s important to understand the role that vision, mission and values play—both what they are and why they matter.

Vision: What The Brand Hopes To Achieve Long-Term

I often see mission statements preceding vision statements. However, the mission should support the vision—not the other way around. The vision looks forward to what your organization hopes to achieve in the distant future. Some refer to it as the ultimate dream state, prompting leaders to answer questions like these: If your business had a magic wand, what would the industry or even the world look like? How would the lives of your customers change? It speaks to a destination that does not entirely exist yet, but that the business is actively working toward.

Because the vision is less about the journey and more about the final destination, these statements are more aspirational and often use compelling language and a confident tone of voice.

Vision statement examples include:

• LinkedIn: “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.”

• Southwest Airlines: “To be the world’s most loved, most efficient and most profitable airline.”

In addition to inspiring employees and shaping culture, the vision acts as a compass for the company’s long-term business strategy. You should use the vision as a litmus test for decision making related to expanding products and services or entertaining mergers or acquisitions. If the strategy under consideration doesn’t serve the vision, it’s likely not going to deliver business value.

Mission: How The Brand Will Achieve Its Vision

While the vision statement focuses on tomorrow, the mission statement focuses on today—what the company is doing right now to make the vision a reality. Said more poetically, the vision is your North Star and the mission is your compass.

The mission is grounded more in the company’s offering and value proposition, identifying the organization’s core audiences and the benefits it hopes to deliver. Some use a simple formula that breaks down what the organization does, for whom and how it does it. Because mission statements are more pragmatic, make sure the language is clear and concise—though your statement should also inspire readers and motivate employees.

Mission statement examples include:

• American Express: “Our mission is to become essential to our customers by providing differentiated products and services to help them achieve their aspirations.”

• Oracle: “Our mission is to help people see data in new ways, discover insights, unlock endless possibilities.”

The purpose of the mission statement is to help the organization focus on day-to-day activities that further the vision of tomorrow. While it can be an externally facing statement seen by customers on a website or other branded materials, its core job is to remind employees what the organization is doing—and subsequently what they should be doing—every day. Your mission statement should be frequently referenced by leadership in everything from new employee onboarding to town halls.

Values: The Behavioral Attributes Required To Deliver

If you hold in your mind what the organization wants to achieve long-term (vision) and how it will deliver it (mission), you are left to consider the human behaviors required to achieve those objectives. What attributes would you assign to your ideal employee? How do your values differ from your competitors’?

It’s important to note that values are closely tied to the organization’s brand experience. They should be brief to ensure internal adoption, but your values don’t have to adhere to the often-used formula of a one-word attribute with a brief rationale. After all, your organization and your people are unique. Let your values reflect that.

Values examples include:


• Authentic: “Our heritage is one of honesty, integrity, and courageously doing the right thing.”

• Accountable: “We take ownership for our business and our future.”

• Innovative: “We are committed to new ideas that add value for our customers, our business, and our world.”

• Caring: “We respect each other and care for the communities where we live and work.”


• “Customer obsession rather than competitor focus.”

• “Passion for invention.”

• “Commitment to operational excellence.”

• “Long-term thinking.”

Values drive internal alignment, guide hiring decisions and create consistency in the brand experience. Make sure you display values prominently and use them in internal communications. This might mean installing environmental graphics at various facility locations and your corporate headquarters, launching internal campaigns designed to keep the values top-of-mind, or maintaining an employee acknowledgment program that enables team members to nominate others based on behaviors that showcase the values.

The Big Picture

Your vision, mission and values act as guides to fulfill your organization’s potential. Created with care, they are the key to ensuring that you meet your financial objectives, that your customers have an exceptional and differentiated brand experience, and that your employees lead a more fulfilling work life.

While their creation and implementation don’t have to be a burden on brand and marketing team members, make sure they are crafted in alignment with executive leaders across the enterprise. That requires time for discovery—holding small group sessions and one-on-one conversations to glean insights that will deliver an authentic vision, mission and set of values to inspire and motivate your organization.

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