If you were going on a hike, you would probably look at a map, right?
You’d know your destination, have a map to follow for getting there and back, follow the signs to get you there safely, and know what’s important about the experience for you, whether that’s speed, fun, exercise, being in nature, or something else.
Because if you don’t have a purpose, plan, and priorities, you’ll likely end up lost, wasting a lot of time, and not enjoying yourself along the way!
The same goes for business.
You need your destination, map, and guide ready so that you can get people on board with the adventure, create an amazing experience that everyone enjoys, and reach your destination without getting lost along the way.
In other words, when it comes to building a brand, you need your vision, mission, and values clear before you do anything else because these are the things that will ensure you build a successful brand from the beginning.
What is a brand’s vision, mission, or values?
Your vision, mission, and values are the three most important parts of branding because they guide every other decision you will make about your brand going forward. They are the north stars that will guide you as you grow your business and help you attract an audience who support your goals and share your values.
What is a brand vision?
A brand’s vision explains where the company aims to be when they achieve their mission. It’s all about imagining the future of your company, your audience, or the world when you do what you set out to do.
For example, IKEA’s vision is “to create a better everyday life for many people,” and Nike’s is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)”
Both of these examples are imagining the ultimate results that their customers will experience when they achieve their mission: a better everyday life, or inspiration and innovation. They’re aspirational, future-focused, and big-picture.
What is a brand mission?
A mission statement is an explanation of what you aim to do, how you do it and who you do it for.
While your vision explains where your business is going, your brand’s mission explains what exactly you aim to do in order to achieve that vision.
For example, Spotify’s vision is “We envision a cultural platform where professional creators can break free of their medium’s constraints and where everyone can enjoy an immersive artistic experience that enables us to empathize with each other and to feel part of a greater whole.” Their vision is a big-picture idea of what the world will look like if they succeed.
Whereas, their mission is: “To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.” Spotify’s mission shows how they’ll achieve their vision, by giving artists the opportunity to live off their art.
What are brand values?
Your brand’s values are actionable principles that are important to you as a business, and describe what you stand for or believe in.
While your vision explains where your business is going, and your mission talks about what you’re doing to get there, your values are all about how you’re going to operate and act along the way.
For example, Patagonia’s brand values are:
- Build the best product
- Cause no unnecessary harm
- Use business to protect nature
- Not bound by convention
These four principles help Patagonia make decisions, prioritise projects, hire employees, and attract customers who value these things in a brand.
6 reasons why you need a vision, mission, and values for your brand
1. To help you make decisions
Knowing where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and the values you’re living by, will help you decide things like whether to offer free shipping, what packaging supplier to choose, and how you approach pricing in your business. You’ll make those decisions based on what’s important to you as a business, and how they’ll help you on your mission.
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Walt Disney
2. To bring your team together
As a leader, it’s your job to lead your team with clarity and direction. Having your vision, mission, and values clearly communicated to all of your employees, contractors, and collaborators will make sure that everyone is on the same page, working towards the same goals, and doing it in a way that’s aligned with your brand’s culture. They’ll be united, inspired, and empowered to work together towards a common vision.
3. To add meaning and purpose to what you do
Knowing your vision, mission, and values adds so much power to what you do. It gives you an empowering reason to create and sell your products that inspires and motivates you to keep going no matter what. Your brand’s purpose becomes higher than everything else that gets in the way, and makes work exciting when you can see the potential of achieving your vision and mission.
“Core values serve as a lighthouse when the fog of life has you wandering in circles.” – J Loren Norris
4. To stand out from the crowd
Not every brand will have a clear vision, mission, or set of values, so by having yours clarified and communicated consistently, you’ll stand out from the crowd like nothing else. Instead of blending into the shelves of products with no clear direction, you’ll jump off the shelf with a bold, confident, and loud proclamation of the things that matter to you.
“A brand’s strength is built upon its determination to promote its own distinctive values and mission.” — Jean-Noel Kapferer, branding expert
5. To attract the right customers
One of the best ways to engage with your ideal customers is by telling your story, which includes your vision, mission, and values. Sharing why your vision is what it is, explaining your mission, and confidently owning your values and their importance are powerful stories that will capture the emotions of your audience. Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks said, “if people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand,” and he’s right. In fact, 89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands that share their values, so sharing your vision, mission, and values is key to attracting and engaging those customers.
6. To guide your visual branding
Your brand’s vision, mission, and values are integral to the brand identity creation process. They help you make decisions about what colours, fonts, and other visual stylings to choose that will represent your goals and beliefs and appeal to customers who value the same things. Creating your visual identity and keeping it consistent will be so much easier with guiding principles and a clear vision to focus on.
How to write your brand’s vision
Writing your vision is all about picturing the state of your business, customers, industry, or the world in the future.
Here is the process you can follow to do this:
- Write down your company goals for 5 to 10 years into the future
E.g. Replace 100,000 shampoo bottles with packaging-free shampoo bars.
- Brainstorm what emotions and transformations your audience will experience when you’ve achieved those goals E.g. empowered, helpful, part of the revolution, making a difference.
- Ask yourself what impact you ultimately want your brand to have on your audience, your industry, or the world. E.g. Plastic-free hair care industry that helps reverse climate change.
- Write a sentence that encapsulates your vision as best as you can.
You can always expand on your vision to explain it further on your website and in other documents, but you need a one-sentence vision that can clearly communicate it to your audience. E.g. to enable a plastic-free planet.
How to write your brand’s mission
The key to a powerful mission statement is to cover the what, how, who, and value of your business. Spotify do this well with their mission statement:
“To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.”
What they do is unlock the potential of human creativity, how they do it is giving an opportunity, who they do it for is creative artists and their fans, and the value that they provide is those artists being able to make a living off of their art, and the fans enjoying and being inspired by it.
Now you can write your mission statement using the same process.
1. To create your mission statement, start by answering these four questions:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Who do you do it for?
- What value do you provide?
2. Then put your answers together into a sentence or two using this formula:
[What you do] by [How you do it] for [Who you do it for] to [What value you provide]
How to write your brand values
To write your brand values, follow this process:
1. Brainstorm your brand values.
You can get started finding your values by answering these questions:
- What is important to me?
- What’s important to my business?
- What rules do I live by?
- What values do I admire in others?
- What will I always do?
- What will I never do?
- What values are important to my ideal audience?
2. Narrow them down to 5 to 7 values
5 to 7 values are the ideal amount so that you can cover all the things that are important to you, while making sure you’re still able to focus on and implement each one. Too many values will spread your focus too thin and weaken your message.
3. Turn those values into action statements
From your brainstorm, you’ll likely have a list of words like creativity, sustainability, integrity, or reliability. These words on their own are not helpful because they're not unique, actionable, or measurable. Instead, now you want to turn them into action statements.
Patagonia’s values which we mentioned before could have been quality, care, and sustainability, but those are generic values that could belong to anyone, are hard to understand in action, and aren’t measurable. Instead they made them unique, actionable, and measurable. For example, quality turned into “Build the best product.” You can do this too!
4. Write a description for each value
Lastly, write an explanation of what each value means and what it looks like in action. Again, Patagonia does this well. One of their values is Cause No Unnecessary Harm, but they don't leave it there. They explain exactly what it means and what it looks like, and you can do the same. Here’s their explanation:
“We know that our business activity — from lighting stores to dyeing shirts — is part of the problem. We work steadily to change our business practices and share what we’ve learned. But we recognise that this is not enough. We seek not only to do less harm, but more good.”
5 ways to implement your vision, mission and values in your business
1. Use them to make decisions and guide your business
Firstly, the most important way to implement your vision, mission, and values is internally. Clarifying these things is incredibly powerful for you and your team as it gives you confidence, direction, and motivation about all things business.
As you now have these three brand elements, use them to make decisions, create a company culture, and guide your business. Keep them on-hand as you choose new collections, create new campaigns, and connect with new customers.
Continually ask yourself:
- Is this getting us closer to our vision?
- Will this help us achieve our mission?
- Is this in line with our values?
If the answer is yes, then you have a green light! But if the answer is no, it might be a good idea to reconsider that option and find a solution that is aligned with your vision, mission, and values.
2. Put them on your website
One of the most obvious places to share your brand is on your website. Your vision, mission, and values can be featured on your homepage, about page, footer, product pages and more. This clearly communicates your purpose to your audience so that they can understand what your brand is all about, feel connected to you, and support you.
Hello Cup have their vision and values front and centre on their website, encouraging visitors to ditch single-use products and consider the environmental impacts of traditional period products. Their mission is to rid the world of single-use period products and give people more eco-friendly choices, which is discussed throughout their website!
When you land on Hello Cup’s website, you know immediately what they’re all about, and customers who are on board with their mission and align with their values are instantly drawn to this product over others.
3. Include them on your packaging
Another powerful place to feature your vision, mission, and values is on your packaging design. This creates a cohesive brand experience, reminds your customers why their purchase matters and the vision it’s working to achieve, and shares your story with others when your packaging is posted online or seen in-person.
Pigeon Eco Store’s vision is all about kindness – they want to be part of a community of people who are kind to each other and to the Planet. And they share this on their packaging by printing values like “sustainable design, luxurious experience,” beliefs like “we love our beautiful planet,” and messages like “thank you for choosing our planet.”
These elements of Pigeon Eco Store’s packaging are all representations of their vision, mission, and values, and when their products arrive, they remind customers of why their purchase matters.
4. Share your vision, mission, and values on social media
Your content on social media doesn’t just have to be about your products. It can be about why those products exist in the first place, and the values that helped shape how they were made. This helps your audience understand what’s behind what you do, and enable them to emotionally engage with your brand on a deeper level.
Thankyou don’t shy away from sharing their vision, mission, and values on social media. In fact, they embrace it, and their audience loves it.
Sharing what their whole business is founded on on social media has garnered Thankyou a brand community of almost 100,000 people who all believe in the same vision. They could choose any products to buy, but they choose Thankyou because they understand and believe in their mission.
5. Share them with your team
If you have employees or contractors, sharing your vision, mission, and values with them will help you all get on the same page, give you something to all work towards together, and create a shared culture that everyone is aligned and onboard with.
You can announce these at first, and then continue to implement and encourage them going forward to make sure you are all always building your brand and creating your business together in the same direction. You can also include them in job advertisements and throughout the hiring process to ensure you’re hiring people who are aligned with your brand.
Now, it’s time to write your vision, mission, and values
Now you know what a brand vision, mission, and values are, why they’re important, how to write them, and where to use them in your business. So it’s time to put pen to paper and start bringing your brand to life with clarity and confidence!
Building a Brand is a new series by noissue that helps entrepreneurs hone their creative side and establish the building blocks of their brand's identity. You might be starting a new business, or you might have an already established brand that needs a little work. Either way, you'll find many great takeaways in this series! A new story will be released monthly, so be sure to check back for more if you enjoyed this piece.