Letter tiles spelling out the words vision and mission

Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement: How to Write Them and Know the Difference

Keep reading to learn:

  • What the difference is between mission statements and vision statements
  • Why mission and vision statements are important for your business
  • How to write mission and vision statements
  • Good examples of mission and vision statements

Here’s The Difference Between Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement

If you’ve taken on the monumental task of starting and running a business, you’re likely driven by a dream or vision of the future that you want to work towards. To crystallize that vision into something clear and real, most organizations develop a mission statement. However, there’s also something equally important called a vision statement. They sound similar, but what is the difference between mission statement vs. vision statement?

Let’s dive deeper into what both mission statements and vision statements are and why they’re important for your business. We’ll also go over what to include when writing each one and some examples of companies with well-written mission and vision statements.

Vision Statement vs. Mission Statement: What are They? 

The difference between the two lies in what they focus on.

  • A vision statement focuses on tomorrow and what the organization wants to become. 
  • A mission statement focuses on today and what the organization is doing to get there. 

Taken together, these two statements form a roadmap for your business, with the vision statement serving as the destination marker and the mission statement as the route you’ve plotted to reach it. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these statements should include.

What is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement outlines what your business wants to achieve in the long run and provides a concrete way for stakeholders, especially employees, to understand the meaning and purpose of your business

A vision statement should encapsulate your company’s core ideals and provide an idea of where you want to go. It should also be forward-looking and motivational. You can be looking ahead five to ten years, or even longer, depending on what you want to achieve.

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement answers the who, what, why and how of your business. It defines who you are as a company, what purpose you serve, why you serve it and how you achieve your vision statement. Your mission statement should focus on the present state of your company and what you’re doing today.

Graphic that goes over the differences between mission statement vs. vision statement

Why are Vision and Mission Statements Important?

Creating a mission and vision statement isn’t just something for you to do to pass the time. Instead, these statements help your business in the long run and tell the story of your company values. They guide you and your team in developing strategies and ideas that build up your business’s identity and foundation.

Additionally, writing these statements will help you:

  • Motivate employees
  • Plan strategically
  • Set values
  • Inspire customers
  • Understand why your business exists

What are the Benefits of a Vision Statement?

Developing a solid vision statement gives your company direction and purpose. It helps your team focus on what matters and promotes growth in those areas. The vision statement also defines what success means for your company. As a result, the vision statement keeps your work true to your purpose and beliefs.

What are the Benefits of a Mission Statement?

A well-defined mission statement should be the driving force for your company. It gives your team a common goal to constantly be advancing toward. It keeps you rooted in what’s important and helps you make sure your daily operations are moving you toward your vision.

Altogether, the mission statement defines what you need to do to fulfill your vision. It is the “how” of your company, your plan of attack. It is the route you’ve drawn to your destination on your business’s roadmap.

How Do I Write a Vision Statement?

You might be wondering what should come first: creating your vision or mission statement? When you begin writing your statements, you should craft your vision statement first because it will inform what you should include in your mission statement. 

To write a vision statement, start by revisiting the various components of your business or marketing plan. This may include your elevator pitch, your business goals, your SWOT analysis, your values, and your business’s story and brand identity.

Once you have this melting pot all together, you can distill it into a vision statement by asking yourself these questions:

  • What is the ultimate purpose of our business?
  • What problems do we want to solve?
  • How does our business aim to make the world a better place?
  • What are our hopes and dreams?
  • Who and what do we want to inspire to change?

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve answered these questions fully, it’s time to distill it down to the essentials. 

How Many Words Should a Vision Statement Be?

A vision statement should be relatively short, around 35 words or less. On average, companies’ vision statements are 15 words long. You want them to be short so that people can remember them. At most, it should be two sentences long. 

A vision statement can sometimes be several paragraphs long, but it’ll usually work best for you if you can get it down to a single clear sentence. Use short sentences and concrete wording, focusing on what you do for others the way you would with an elevator pitch.

How Often Should Vision Statements be Updated?

Your vision statement shouldn’t change much while your business grows. If written correctly, your vision statement will stay consistent as your company progresses toward the goal.  

However, you should still check your vision statement regularly, at least once a year. This is to make sure you still feel like your vision fits your business. If you’ve made significant changes or moved your business in a different direction, it’s probably time to revise your vision statement.

How do I Write a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is the core of your operations. It lays out what you’ll need to accomplish to reach the vision you established in your vision statement. It works best to write it after you’ve refined your vision statement.

Before writing a mission statement, you should make sure you have a refined vision statement that accurately and clearly expresses your vision. With that in hand, ask yourself these questions:

  • What conditions must we fulfill to make this vision a reality?
  • What do we do in our day-to-day life to fulfill those conditions?
  • Who do we serve?
  • How do we serve them?
  • How does what we do help make our vision real for our customers?

If you have trouble, consult other pieces of your business or marketing plan, such as your buyer personas and target audiences, your buying cycle, etc. When you’ve answered those questions, it’s time to condense this down into a single strong statement. Again, it’s best to cut out jargon in favor of simple, meaningful language, keep it short and stay customer-focused.

How Many Words Should a Mission Statement Be?

Usually, a mission statement is longer than a vision statement. And it depends on how much information you want to include. On average, your mission statement should have around 50-100 words, but you shouldn’t exceed 200 words. This will look like 2-4 sentences. The best mission statements succinctly deliver their message in only one sentence.

How Often Should Mission Statements be Updated?

Your mission statement is never set in stone. It’s time for a change when your mission no longer describes your business or reflects your goals. It would be beneficial to sit down and review your mission statement at least once a year to make sure it aligns with what you’re doing. It’s likely that your business won’t change that fast, so you’ll want to consider changing your mission statement anywhere from 3-5 years.

Map with one green and one red destination marker
A mission statement and vision statement can lay out a map to success for your business!

How Do I Use Vision and Mission Statements?

Now that you know how to write mission and vision statements, you may be wondering how to apply them to your own business. After all, there’s more to vision and mission statements than just writing them. Here are some examples of how you can use your statements in your company:

How Can You Use Them Internally?

  • Guide thinking on strategic issues, especially during times of change
  • Help define and measure employee performance
  • Provide a path and focus for employees to work productively

How Can You Use Them Externally?

  • Build stronger communication between you, your customers and suppliers
  • Use as a public relations and media resource
  • Attract potential employees that have the same values

What are Some Mission Statement and Vision Statement Examples?

Now that we’ve gone over the concepts behind mission and vision statements and how to write them, let’s see those ideas in action with some real-life examples. You’ll probably recognize all these companies, and seeing the connection between their vision and mission statements will hopefully help you see how the two work together.

Google Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement

  • Vision: To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
  • Mission: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

As you can see, Google’s vision starts with a simple yet ambitious aspiration to provide people with the world’s information as quickly and efficiently as possible, i.e., “in one click.” To work toward accomplishing that, their mission that guides their daily operations is to organize that information to make it as accessible and useful as possible. You can see how their mission directly powers their movement toward their vision.

Amazon Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement

  • Vision: To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • Mission: We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.

This one is valuable because so many business owners get caught up in their “how” and mistake it for their “why.” Of course, Amazon’s daily operations consist of striving to provide convenience, low prices, and a great selection. This is their mission, but is that their ultimate goal? No. Their vision is to become the world’s most customer-centric company where everyone does their online shopping. Those other things are just objectives that serve that vision.

Ikea Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement

  • Vision: To create a better everyday life for many people.
  • Mission: Offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

Ikea’s vision outright says they want to create a better everyday life for people. They work towards their mission by providing people with functional and affordable products for their customers. By doing this, they achieve their vision of “creating a better everyday life.” 

Southwest Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement

  • Vision: To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.
  • Mission: The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer services delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.

Southwest Airlines’ mission tells us directly that quality customer service is the most important to them. By dedicating themselves to quality customer service, they work towards becoming “the most” of everything that their vision includes.

Ready to Take Your Mission and Vision Statements to the Next Level?

Mission statements and vision statements are both important for you and your company. They are two different concepts but work together in providing a road map for your business. In the long run, you can find success by including them both in your marketing plan. 

If you’re still overwhelmed after learning how to write and use mission and vision statements, we’re here to help. The Frontier Marketing team develops this component and more for marketing plans for businesses in Fox Lake, IL, and the Chicagoland region. Contact us today to learn more!

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally written in May 2018 and updated in September 2021.