It’s time to revisit the foundational statements of any organization: Values, Mission, and Vision. These elements of your brand are the most basic—basic, in this case, does not mean simple. They are often labored over and the source of rift-rich conversations about things like whether to use the word “important,” “vital,” “essential,” or “how about we say nifty?” We have worked on a lot of these statements and we want to share some thoughts.
Values are about why you do what you do. These can be a list of descriptors or qualities that speak to what drives the organization, what its culture is, and what informs its decisions and aspirations. Values can speak to broad pieces like ecological or fun; narrower and more easily defined elements like Vermont-based or single-product; and vague concepts like individual or open. For values, think about what you stand for as an organization.
Mission is what you do. This is the reason for your organization’s existence. I love a very clean, one or two sentence mission. In the past, the mission was used as an internal statement that charges the board with the responsibility of keeping the organization on task. Nowadays, we see the mission as a compelling statement that is the foundation of all marketing and messaging. To be effective, we want the mission to be internally true but externally facing with an eye on the organization’s hopes and realities.
Vision is how you know that you’ve succeeded. It’s the end state of what the world will look like if you are successful. This can be aspirational and/or inspirational but it should also be simple and clear. As it’s the end state, don’t use phrases like “to grow,” “to become,” or “to continue.” Think of words like “to be,” “to have,” or “to live in a world in which.” It’s not essential that the vision is realistic but it should be a guide star, a destination.
So, now you have these elements, is there a way to check if they work? Why yes, there is. If you were to visualize these three components, imagine looking at the market position of your values. This is your homebase. Now look toward your vision from the perspective of your values. If you’ve done it right, you should be looking in a line that intersects your mission. These three concepts should line up: This organization cares about and puts value in these things (Values), which leads us to do this (Mission) to make those values tangible, and we’ll know that we did it well if the world ever looks like this (Vision).