Mission statement vs. vision statement

Mission statements define an organization’s core values, purpose, function, and objectives. They tend to focus on how the organization should act on a daily basis.

Vision statements detail where or what the organization aspires to be in the context of its community, industry, or society in general.

Understanding mission statements

Mission statements are action-orientated and clarify the purpose of an organization with respect to its audience. They may include a brief description of the organization or details of its functions, objectives, core values, and purpose.

Mission statements define the “what” and the “how” of a company and often serve as the basis for the strategy that will enable the organization to realize its vision.

In general, they are public-facing statements designed for the consumer – but they may also be used to drive employee policies and streamline internal decision-making. 

Robust mission statements advance those within the organization toward a common goal. They will also need to be revised periodically with new objectives as the objectives in the current statement are ticked off.

Conversely, weak mission statements – or indeed no mission statement whatsoever – has the opposite effect.

Employees are unmotivated and directionless which leads to a loss of productivity.

By extension, the organization itself may jump from one idea to the next according to whatever is trendy but its disjointed and misaligned efforts will invariably fail.

Disney mission statement example

The Walt Disney Company’s mission is “to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.

Understanding vision statements

Where mission statements are the “what” and the “how” of a company, vision statements are the “why”.

In other words, what is the meaning behind the company’s actions? What is the “why” that motivates it to act in a certain way?

Unlike mission statements which clarify what the organization is currently doing to reach its goals, vision statements describe where the company wants to be in the future.

The aspirational nature of a vision means there is a focus on employees and other relevant stakeholders as opposed to consumers.

Vision statements encourage the organization to answer the following questions:

  • What are our future hopes and dreams?
  • Who are we inspiring to change?
  • What is a problem we are solving with societal benefits?

These statements encourage internal and external growth and provide clarity on what matters in a business and what success looks like.

Like mission statements, however, a poor or non-existent vision statement means the organization is going nowhere fast. These businesses tend to be stagnant, unmotivated, and uninspired.

Vision statement examples

  1. IKEA – “To create a better everyday life for the many people.
  2. Samsung – “Inspire the world, create the future.”
  3. Oxfam – “A just and sustainable world without the inequalities that keep people in poverty.

Key takeaways:

  • Mission statements define an organization’s core values, purpose, function, and objectives and focus on how the organization should act daily. Vision statements detail where or what the organization aspires to be in the context of its community, industry, or society in general.
  • Mission statements define the “what” and the “how” of a company and often serve as the basis for the strategy that will enable the organization to realize its vision.
  • Vision statements are more focused on the “why”. In other words, what is the meaning behind the company’s actions? What is the important problem it is solving that has positive implications for society?

Read Next: Mission Statement, Personal Mission Statement.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

Mission Statement Case Studies

Adidas Mission Statement

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Adidas’ mission is “To be the best sports brand in the world.” Adidas AG is a German multinational initially founded in 1924 by Adolf Dassler who developed spiked running shoes out of his mother’s house. Today, the company is the largest sportswear producer in Europe and the second largest globally behind rival Nike.

Uber Mission Statement

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Uber’s mission statement is to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.

Tesla Mission Statement

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Tesla’s vision is to “create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles,” while its mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” Tesla used a transitional business model as its ecosystem grows.

Amazon Mission Statement

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Amazon’s mission statement is to “serve consumers through online and physical stores and focus on selection, price, and convenience.” Amazon’s vision statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” 

Apple Mission Statement

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Apple’s mission is “to bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” And in a manifesto dated 2019 Tim Cook set the vision specified as “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.”

Netflix Mission Statement

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Netflix’s core mission, strategy, and vision are that of “improving its members’ experience by expanding the streaming content with a focus on a programming mix of content that delights members and attracts new members.”

Coca-Cola Mission Statement

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Coca-Cola’s Purpose is to “refresh the world. make a difference.” Its vision and mission are to “craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better-shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities, and our planet.”

Starbucks Mission Statement

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Starbucks highlights its mission as “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” And its vision is to “treat people like family, and they will be loyal and give their all.”

Microsoft Mission Statement

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Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. With over $110 billion in revenues in 2018, Office Products and Windows are still the main products. Yet the company also operates in Gaming (Xbox), Search Advertising (Bing), Hardware, LinkedIn, Cloud, and more.

Walmart Mission Statement

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Walmart’smission can be summarized as “helping people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores and through eCommerce.” While its vision is to “make every day easier for busy families.” Walmart defines “busy families” as the bull’s eye of its business strategy.

Nike Mission Statement

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Nike vision is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” While its mission statement is to “do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainably, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.”

Google Mission Statement

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Google mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Its vision statement is to “provide an important service to the world-instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.” In 2019, Sundar Pichai emphasized a renewed mission to allow people “to get things done!”

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